The potato famines of the nineteenth century were long attributed to Irish indolence. The Stalinist system was blamed on a Russian proclivity for autocracy. Muslim men have been accused of an inclination to terrorism. Is political behavior really the result of the cultural environment, or does the vast range of human political action stem more from institutional and structural constraints?
This important new book carefully examines the role of institutions and civic culture in the establishment of political norms. Authors Jackman and Miller methodically refute the Weberian cultural theory of politics and build in its place a persuasive case for the ways in which institutions shape the political behavior of ordinary citizens. Their rigorous examination of grassroots electoral participation reveals no evidence for even a residual effect of cultural values on political behavior, but instead provides consistent support for the institutional view. Before Norms speaks to urgent debates among political scientists and sociologists over the origins of individual political behavior, and is recommended for students and scholars of those fields.
"With this volume, Robert Jackman and Ross Miller pursue a twofold ambition. First, they want to demonstrate that most of the research on political culture and the impact of values on political behavior can be questioned, both on theoretical as on methodological grounds. Second, they want to demonstrate that their theoretical model, based on the assumption that actors optimize their behavior within durable institutional restraints, is better able to explain what people do with regard to politics."
—Marc Hooghe, Catholic University of Leuven