Before Norms

Institutions and Civic Culture
Robert W. Jackman and Ross A. Miller
Is political behavior shaped by culture or institutions?


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.

Robert W. Jackman is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis.

Ross A. Miller is Associate Professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University.

Praise / Awards

  • "This is one of the only studies to test arguments about social capital rigorously and to offer a cogent alternative argument. Anyone interested in the effects of social capital should read it."
    —Barbara Geddes, Professor of Political Science, UCLA
  • "Before Norms stands as the must-read book in the great debate over cultural versus institutional explanations of political behavior. Under the bright light of their rigorous analytical lens, the arguments from values, norms, beliefs, social capital, or other cultural constructs simply evaporate."
    —Michael Lewis-Beck, Professor of Political Science, University of Iowa
  • "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

Look Inside

Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 262pp.
  • 8 drawings, 30 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03094-1

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

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