Call for papers vol 9, no. 1, 2018 is open until 30 March 2018


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notion of political culture is enjoying a ‘renaissance’ after decades of being academically
discredited from both the so-called right and the left12. The underlying argument behind
this article’s analysis is that political culture determines the prospects for and the timing
of peace. Emphasis on mass political culture has also become an important factor in understanding
mechanisms contributing to change (see Przeworski 1988). This method is typically
used in analyzing the prospects for transition to democracy. Often, the nature and
commitment of public and subgroup attitudes towards democracy becomes the focus of
such an analysis. However, this study is interested in peace readiness. A particular political
culture may, in theory, exert public political pressure upon the existing political system.
This pressure, in turn, creates the space for maneuver in which the political decision makers
may act.
Caution must be observed; the above reasoning is problematic since it avoids some
fundamental questions. Culture, an elusive notion to define, is perhaps easier to work with
when a non-essentialist approach is used. Instead of emphasizing what the typicalities or
codes of conduct of a specific context are, one must ask: How are social attitudes and behaviors
changed or reproduced, and how are they perpetuated? A generalist, or nomotetic,
approach also necessitates the deconstruction of larger contexts and the identification of
particularities present in a specific context (i.e. the importance of subcultures), in order to
discover how attitudes are generated and changed. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand
how these attitudes form and influence top-level political decision-making about
peace and security issues.

Public opinion and leadership relations

A research has shown that leaders may change their position when the time for peace is
‘ripe’ (Zartman 2005), and that occasionally in a conflict situation – for instance, as a result
of public pressure, and/or political and security changes (for instance “the hurting stalemate”)
– new opportunities for top-leaders to negotiate for a peaceful settlement are created.
Studies also reveal that even extreme agencies, such as those that use suicide-killing
tactics, are dependent on public opinion. Hamas, for example, has used such violent strategies,
and its use of these tactics is influenced very much by the reaction of Palestinian


12The schools of thought from ‘rational choice’, ‘public choice’ and ‘positive political theory’ explained that voters,
leaders, diplomats et al. were rational, short-run-interest maximizers. The leftists and radicals maintained
that political culture was only a reflection of the capitalist ideology and, hence, served as ideas related to specific
classes. (cf. Almond, G.A. 1993, p. ix-xii)

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