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POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR (POLSC 301)

COURSE OUTLINE

 Meaning and Emergence of Political Behaviour


 Scope of Political Behaviour
 Political Culture
 Political Socialization
 Political Participation
 Micro-Political Analysis
- The Elite Theory
- The Group Theory
- Relative Deprivation Theory
- The Power Theory
- Class and Class Struggle (Class Analysis)
 Public Opinions and Political Communication
 Political Parties and Voting Behaviour
 Political Corruptions and Political Violence
 Identity politics (Religion, Ethnicity and Race)
 Social Movement and Revolution

MEANING AND EMERGENCE OF POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR

Every political system is constituted by static and mobile structure. The static
structures perform the role of maintenance of law and order and translation of policy
decisions into actions. Examples of static structures are the courts, civil service, and
the police as an institution.
The roles performed by these static structures are essentially routinized roles
for the maintenance of law and order. However, under conditions of threats to the
political system, these structures can by themselves originate incidental changes. On
the other hand, the mobile element or structures refer more specifically to the less-
structured and less-framed human processes in the political system, which work by
self-automated dynamism that propels change in the political system. That is to say,
these activities singly or collectively go by the designation of political or better still,
political behaviour.

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In the past, the static categories were accorded primacy by political scientists
but the mobile (human element) were sufficiently studied, however the more modern
tendency is to highlight the identity and importance of the dynamic processes. It is in
fact, the dynamic combination and interaction of these features (human activities in
the political system) that we here designate by the generic name – political behaviour
that is the behaviour that wheels the machinery of governance.

MEANING OF POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR


Political behaviour refers to the behaviour of man in a social system that gives
him shelter, protection configured in terms of power. It is not all human behaviour
that could be termed political. Political behaviour is that pattern of behaviour, which
relates to power in order to increase power, to protect power, to modify power or to
use power in advancing the individual or the collectivity from any already given
power situation. This pattern of behaviour constitutes the universal aims and
objectives of the political man. It is however important to note that political
behaviour extends far beyond governmental behaviour, which connotes the machinery
of lawmaking (policies). The behaviour of individuals such as tribal organization or
anomic, all constitute political behaviours. However, one thing that has persisted in
all political system is the vital role, which human behaviour plays in the development
and operations of political system. In fact, whatever the type of political system that
is adopted by the people or imposed on them, the impact of human behaviour on the
system has made far-reaching and sometimes fundamental changes on the system
generally. A living political system is a change in system, structures, institutions,
principles and manifestoes, etc. on their own cannot lead to change. It is the
behaviour of the citizens that account for so much of the inevitable change. These
citizens are leaders, followers, anarchists, terrorists, the masses, etc. they also include
groups like human right organizations, anomic and institutional organizations, etc. In
fact, when we weigh human and non-human on a scale, man behaviour is heavier than
non-human element in the shaping of political system and it is ultimately the chief
decisive factor in the political system.
These human elements include both individual and group behaviour.
Individuals bring in their character and their aggregate demonstrate their own
characteristic. The two together or in institution, influence the nature of political
system in any given universe. Therefore, in the study of politics we ask: what impact

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can the human individual make on the political system? How can individual and
groups interact in a political system.

SCOPE OF POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR


There are two senses in which scholars understand political behaviour
1. Some regard it as a distinct and specific area of study within the noble
discipline of political science and such scholars are Lipset, Blumer, Harold
Lasswell, Wallas, Robert Lein, etc. They argued that the political
behaviour of man like every other behaviour of man emanated from his
political environment. The origin and mode and dynamics of such
interacting and initiative are vast enough to constitute a distinct area of
study in political science.
2. Some regard it as simply as an approach to the study of political science,
in other words, it is a type of mental orientation or methodology, which
conditions the instinctual advocates to the study of political science. This
method of studying political science started at about 20th century.
At the inception of the 20th century, most political scientist particularly from
America became dissatisfied with the traditional, legalistic, constitutional,
philosophical and historical approaches to the study of politics. Consequently, a new
style of enquiry emerged in the form of behavioural approach. The behavioural
approach to the study of political science may be described as the application of
scientific method to the understanding and analysis of political phenomenon. The
main focus of behavioural movement is the individuals and not the institutions so far
as the analysis of political events are concerned.
Essentially, behaviourism focuses on the behaviour of the individual as a
political actor within an interest group, a political party or a legislative body. It
advocates the observation of political behaviour underlying particular institutional –
legal arrangement and the analysis. In fact, the technique of opinions of
psychological analysis and small group especially has reached significant attention
from behavioralist in political science empirical research.

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ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF
POLITICAL BEHVIOURAL APPROACH
The behavioural approach in the field of political science owes its origin to the
intellectual development in philosophy, sociology and psychology, particularly of
note is the writing of Pavlor in Russia and John B. Watson in USA, who contributed
extensively on behavioural psychology and the works in the field of philosophy by
logical positivists have also exerted considerable influence in the use of behavioural
approach became very prominent and was used to enhance understanding in the
investigation of voting behaviour, political behaviour, party identification and
attitudes, etc. Some of the prominent writers in the field include Graham Wallas of
England and Arthur Bentley of the United States.
Notwithstanding the fact that several European scholars, psychologists,
philosophers and social scientists have significant contributions in the field of
behaviouralism, its revolution received patronage mainly from the American political
scientists. Remarkably, Charles E. Merriam of the Chicago University takes the
credit as the intellectual father of this movement. In collaboration with other political
scientist, he developed methods of research, derived from the methodology of
psychology, sociology and mathematics as a result of this development, a good
number of other European scholars shifted to the United States in the 1920s. More so,
in the years preceding the Second World War, the movement joined memorandum
and began to use the quantitative data and statistical tables as expatiated by Stuart
Rice and Harold Gosnell. In fact, behavioural movement affected virtually every
scholarly work of the time particularly the writings of Harold Lasswell, Gabriel
Almond, Robert Dahl, David Easton and Karl Deustch. All these scholars and many
more contributed immensely to the behavioural revolution.

CONCEPTUALIZATION ISSUE
According to Robert A. Dahl, behaviorism is a protest movement within the
discipline of political science of some scholars who are dissatisfied with the meager
achievement of conventional political science particularly through historical,
philosophical and the descriptive-institutional approach. He also added that either
additional methods and approaches existed or could be developed that would help
political science with empirical propositions and theories of a systematic sort tested
by closer, more direct and more rigorously controlled observations of political events.

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Again, the movement aims at bringing political studies into closer affiliation with
theories, methods, findings and outlook with other social sciences like psychology,
sociology, anthropology and economics. It is an attempt to make the empirical
equipment of political science more scientific. More so, David Easton stated that
behavioral research seeks to elevate the actual human beings to the centre-of-
attention. For him, traditionalists have placed so much emphasis on institutions,
which fail to give a scientific character to the study of political science. Collaborating
Easton, David B. Truman argues that political behaviour refers to those actions and
interactions of men and group, which are involved in the process of governing others.
Meanwhile Robert Dahl observes that the aim of behaviourism is to study all the
phenomenon of government in terms of observed and observable behaviour of men.
For him therefore, it is an attempt to improve the understanding of politics through
modern methods. These modern methods have to do with the methodology of
scientific research.
Again, for David B. Truman, the behavioural approach to the study of politics
must be systematic and also it must place primary emphasis upon empirical methods.
That is, observable or verifiable evidence or indices. By systematic research we mean
a precise problem statement, which are the hypothesis and consequently a rigorous
ordering of evidence. This must be guided and explained with the help of an adequate
theory essentially, the ultimate aim of the student of political process.

CHARACTERISTICS OF BEHAVIOURISM
According to David Easton, the basic assumption of behaviourism would be
located in what he calls the intellectual foundations of political behaviour. These
assumptions are:
 Regularities
 Verification
 Techniques
 Quantification
 Values
 Systematization
 Pure Science; and
 Integration

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A. Regularities
Behaviouralists argue that there are certain discernable uniformities in
political behaviour, which can be expressed in generalization of theories. In order to
explain and predict political phenomenon, this assertion is anchored on the premise
that human behaviour is more or less similar in certain respects under given
conditions. Essentially therefore, the task of the researcher is to engage himself to
finding out the existence of regularities. This process will facilitate to explain and
predict the political phenomena and in the ultimate analysis, will make political
science a truly scientific discipline with explanatory and predictive values

B. Verification
It is the contention of the behaviouralist that for knowledge to be valid, it must
consist of propositions that have been subjected to empirical investigation. To be
sure, the validity of all propositions depends on their capacity to be tested.

C. Techniques
A distinguishing feature of behaviourism is its emphasis on the correct
techniques for acquiring and interpreting data. This is not so with traditionalist that
lay emphasis on mere description of political events. The specific research tools
adopted by behaviouralists ensure valid, reliable and comparative data. This includes
multi-varied samples of a mathematical model and simulation, etc.

D. Quantification
This expresses the importance of not only generating data but also of
measuring and quantifying same. Quantification and measurement is the essential
ingredient that determines the scientific nature of data. This helps to verify the
conclusion or impression of the researcher.

E. Values
In behavioural approach, facts are usually separated from values. They must
be studied separately or even in combination but should not be mixed up with one
another. There should be a clear-cut line of distinction between ethical evaluation and
empirical explanation. One of the major points of disagreement between the

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behaviouralist and the traditionalist is on the question of value-neutrality. Scientific
enquiry in order to be objective must be value-free. Political science is a scientific
study of politics in its functional aspect carried through empirical methods and
therefore has nothing to do with morals or ethical question.

F. Systematization
In bahavioualist approach, research will be systematic. That is to say that
research must be theory-oriented and theory-directed. The theory and research should
form part of a closely interrelated, coherent and orderly body of knowledge. Theory
should consist of analysis, explanation and prediction instead of being speculative.

G. Pure Science
The pure scientific nature of behavioural approach is that theory and its
application are part of the scientific endeavor. Hence, research should be of pure
type. The understanding and explanation of political behaviour, logically precedes
and in the ultimate analysis, provides the basis for efforts to utilize such knowledge in
the solution of urgent political problems of society. Research should be perfectly
verifiable by evidence.

H. Integration
The behaviouralist argues for the use of interdisciplinary approach. As one of
the social sciences, political science should be integrated with other social sciences in
order to enhance understanding.
Meanwhile, E. Kirk-Patrick asserts that there are four (4) characteristics of
behaviouralism that are of utmost importance:
• Behavioural movement is a rejection of political institutions as the basic
conceptual units and a substitution of the individual and group behaviour.
• It is an emphasis on the unity of social sciences, hence an increased
willingness to cross-disciplinary lines
• It lays more emphasis on precisions, measurements and quantitative technique
• It seeks to develop systematic empirical theory.

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WEAKNESS OF BEHAVIOURAL APPROACH
The main objections of behavioural movements are raised by the
traditionalists. For the traditionalists, the craze for a pure science of politics by the
behaviorialists has led to the following:
i. Political phenomena cannot be subjected to any rigorous study because of
its very nature. Essentially, the traditionalists point that it is very difficult
to study human behaviour either as individual or group with objectivity
which is a necessary condition in the acquisition of scientific knowledge.
They also argue that political phenomena are the consequences of interplay
of a number of variables and historical contingencies as a result, efforts for
a rigid generalization for the discovery of the laws of human behaviour are
seriously impaired. This emanates from the fact that human beings behave
differently under similar circumstances and are also motivated by quite
different reasons.
ii. The observability of political phenomenon is quite limited hence, for a
comprehensive understanding of political phenomenon, one has to go
beyond observable behaviour
iii. Also, the traditionalists argue that data in social sciences can never be
objective. The technique should not be exalted at the cost of content. For
them, self-consciousness about methodology carried too far may act as an
impediment in the pursuit of knowledge
iv. More so, the traditionalist contain that quantification of political
phenomenon is an unattainable goal. They argue that only trivial question
can be put into measurement. Most of the phenomena in the field of
politics are by nature unquantifiable and immeasurable
v. The value-mentality position has been considered by traditionalists as
untenable. The researcher undoubtedly has value-preferences that
inevitably creep into research.
vi. Again, so much emphasis on inter-dependence of political phenomena and
other aspects of the individual’s behaviour may prove dangerous in the
sense that it would result in an undesirable loss of identity, integrity and
autonomy of political science.

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As a corollary of the above criticism, Sibley stated that “we are not
questioning the propositions that behaviourism in its several forms has an important
contribution to make in the study of political phenomenon. We do question however,
whether the behavioural approach is adequate in itself for an understanding of
politics.”
In addition, Le Strauss appears to have unleashed an unmitigated criticism and
attack on the behavioural movement. He indeed appears to be the most vehement
critic of the behavioural movement. He observed that behavourism or scientific
positivism has introduced parochialism into political science. He alleged that the
behaviouralist in their attempt to make their analysis value-free, reject all grounds for
evaluation and treat all values as equal.

EVALUATION
Generally speaking, despite all the criticism leveled against the behavioral
movement, it has its own contribution, which is very significant in the field of
research in political science. As a result of the patronage received by the approach
from leading American political scientist, it has led to the willingness among political
scientists to seek new methods and theories of enquiry from other social sciences.
Thus, the achievement of the movement can be seen in the theory building and
techniques of research. There were in fact remarkable achievement in the
development and refinement of the tools and techniques of research as a result of the
behavioural movement. This development manifest broadly in the field of:
• Content Analysis
• Case Study Analysis
• Interviewing/Observation
• Statistics
More so, in the light of the general systems approach, a number of new
approaches in the field of political science have been developed. As a result, major
framework of political enquiry like structural-functionalism and input-output analysis
has been developed. The behaviouralist also made use of new approaches like
decision-making approach, games theory and field models, etc.
Essentially, the behaviouralist differs from the traditional approach in its
nature, goals, methods and conceptual phrase of reference. Its focus was on the use of

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scientific methods or better still, empirical methods of enquiry. The behaviouralist
favours the use of scientific method in making accurate statement about political
phenomenon. The main objective of the behavioural movement was to describe
political phenomena realistically and to predict things (events). It laid emphasis on
the mutual interdependence of theory and research, in fact, the ultimate purpose of the
movement was to formulate an empirical theory of politics that constitute reliable
knowledge.

POLITICAL CULTURE
The study of political culture essentially is the study of political culture of
democracy and of the social structures and processes that sustain it. It attempts to
focus on the diffusion of western technology and democratic norms and values.
Accordingly, Almond and Weber argue that physical goods and their modes of
production seem to present the least difficulty in diffusion. It is apparent that this
aspect of Western Culture is diffusing rapidly along with the technology upon which
they depend. This is because, the non-western world though has not successfully
developed an industrial technology and an efficient bureaucracy, yet it desires these
institutions and has some understanding of them.
However, the diffusion of western democratic norms and values, etc. appears
to encounter serious problems that are aspects of diffusion of political culture that is
discernable is the political culture of participation. In all the imaginations of the
world, the believe that the ordinary man is politically relevant and ought to be an
active participant in the political system is widespread particularly during the
independence struggle era. In fact, a democratic form of political participation system
requires a political culture that is consistent with it. As a result, political culture could
be conceptualized as the basic attitudes, beliefs, values, orientations, etc. of the
members of a political community towards politics. Essentially, it is the political way
of life of a people, which is a product of many years of political interactions,
transferred from one generation to another and is maintained, revised and improved
through political education and political socialization.
As political culture develops, it influences the society and is also influenced
by the society. But very significant is that political culture of every society is
determined by the economic foundation of that society. Meanwhile, the nation’s

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political culture refers to the basic attitudes and orientations of its people towards the
political system. It is the pattern of distribution of orientations, members of a political
community have towards politics. This collective pattern of orientation determines
and influences the structures of the political system and the political lives of the
people. According to Lucian Pye, political culture is a set of attitudes, beliefs and
sentiments which give order and meaning to the political process and which provides
the underlying assumptions and rules that govern behaviour in the political system. It
embraces both the political ideas and operating norms of a polity. For him therefore,
it is the manifestation of an aggregate form of the psychological and subjective
dimensions of politics. Political culture is also rooted in public events and private
experiences. More so, as enunciated by Sydney Weber, political culture consist of the
system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols and values, which define the situation
in which political action take place. Political culture also encompasses shared goals
and commonly accepted rules. Accordingly, Almond argues that every political
system is embedded in a particular pattern of orientations to the political actions.
That is to say, it is the pattern of individual patterns and orientations towards politics
among the members of a political system. By orientation therefore we refer to the
internalized aspects of objects and their relationships. These include: cognitive
orientation, affective orientation and evaluative orientation.

Cognitive Orientation
This is knowledge of and belief about the political system, its roles and the
incumbent of these roles, its inputs and its outputs.

Affective Orientation
This refers to the feeling about the political system, its roles, personnel and
performance.

Evaluative Orientation
This concerns the judgement and opinions about political objects that typically
involves the combination of value-standards and criteria with information and
feelings.
Meanwhile in the classification of political culture the important thing is what
objects individuals are oriented to, how they are oriented to them and whether these

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objects are predominantly involved in the upward flow of policy making or in the
downward flow of policy enforcement. In fact, the distinction that we draw from such
classification, determines whether a nation’s political culture could be described as
parochial, subject or participant. Hence, we arrive at the three major types of political
culture.

3 x 4 Matrix

System as
Self as active
Types Objects general Input object Output
participant
object
Parochial 0 0 0 0
Subject 1 0 1 0
Participant 1 1 1 1

1. Parochial political culture


2. Subject political culture
3. Participant political culture

Parochial Political Culture


A political culture is parochial when the frequency of orientations to specialize
political objects of the four kinds approaches zero. According to Coleman the
political cultures of African tribal societies and autonomous local communities are
parochial. More so, a parochial orientation also implies the comparative absence of
expectations of change initiated by the political system. In fact, the parochial expects
nothing from the political system

Subject Political Culture


This refers to high frequency of orientations towards a differentiated political
system and towards the output aspect of the system, but orientation towards
specifically input objects and toward the self as an active participant approaches zero.
The citizen is aware of specialized governmental authority, he is affectively oriented
to it, and he may take pride in it and accord legitimacy or otherwise to the system as
general object. It is essentially a passive relationship.

Participant Political Culture

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This is one in which the members of the society tends to be explicitly oriented
to the system as a whole and to both the political and administrative structures and
processes, that is, to both the input and output aspects of the political system.
Individual members of the participant polity may be favourably or unfavourably
oriented to the various classes of political object. They are oriented towards active
participation notwithstanding that their feeling and evaluation of political role may
vary from acceptance to rejection.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to state that adding participant orientations to
subject and parochial orientations changes the earlier orientation. Hence, parochial
orientations must adapt when new and more specialized orientations entered into the
system. In the same vein, both parochial and subject orientations change when
participant orientations are acquired. In fact, a significant measure of difference
between political cultures of different political systems could be related to the extent
to which parochial, subject and participant orientations are combined or fused
together within the individuals of the polity. This however, does not imply
homogeneity or uniformity of political cultures. It is the degree of the fusion of
political cultures that determines the level of development of a political culture of any
political system. Thus, this fusion or mix could manifest as:
1. parochial-subject culture
2. subject-participant culture
3. parochial-participant culture

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POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
Political participation is a concept within the discipline of political science that
has various meanings. The term refers to the extent to which citizens get involved in
and are affected by politics. It has also been characterized as a civic duty, as a sign of
political health and the best method of ensuring that one’s private interest are not
neglected. Accordingly, Okolie noted that political participation expresses right to
rule, freedom of expression, association, right to free flow of communication,
influence decision process and right to social justice. As a matter of fact, from the
time of Aristotle, to the present age, popular political participation has been extolled
as a source of vitality and creative energy as a defense against tyranny and as a means
of enacting collective wisdom, through participation in the affairs of the state, stability
and order could be promoted, but more importantly and disordered and unrealistic
government could equally be changed. Participation gives an opportunity to express
one’s own point of view and possibly secure the greatest happiness for the greatest
number.
Political participation has been defined as the overt and covert involvement of
citizens in the politics of any given society. It cuts across the various aspects of a
nation’s political life, ranging from the daily services in government to attendance of
political party rallies, meetings, voting and being voted for during elections, etc. To
be sure, political participation involves any act that has manifest or latent political
undertone. This could be in form of political protest, that is legally permitted, and any
other actions against the state that might not be legally permitted. Accordingly, Agbo
H. N. (2007) defines political participation as all manner of involvement, direct or
indirect, overt or covert, legal and extra legal by individuals or groups, within a
political community that have some consequences on the political system.
However, in its restricted sense, political participation refers to the activities of
the incumbent of different roles and that of the citizenry during elections. Meanwhile,
Huntington and Nelson categorized political participation as either voluntary
(autonomous) or manipulated (mobilized). Accordingly, voluntary participation is the
activity which is designed by the actor himself to influence governmental decision-
making, while manipulated participation refers to activity which is designed by
someone other than the actor to influence governmental decision-making.

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Factors Influencing Political Participation

The form and nature of political participation differs from one political system
to another. Accordingly Milbrath argues that political participation differs in relation
to four (4) major factors:
1. The extent to which the individual receives political stimuli
2. The individual’s personal characteristics
3. The individual’s social characteristics
4. The political setting or environment in which the individual finds himself
More so, it is argued, that the level of education determines one’s level of
participation in politics. That is to say, the more educated citizens tend to participate
more actively than the less-educated ones. But very significant, is the contribution
made by Igwe (2002) that various forms of injustice, inequality and poverty, illiteracy
and ignorance and anti-people political system awkward and archaic cultural
practices, electoral and ballot rigging traditions and long years of military rule or
some of the factors that affect political participation and could in fact, create political
apathy. By political apathy, we mean lack of interest or concern for persons or
institutions of the political system. It denotes a situation of indifference to or lack of
concern or feeling of interest in situations that should normally provoke active
reaction. Okolie argues that political apathy is not only a psychological
predisposition, but also a behavioural trait of the individual.

Factors that Cause Political Apathy


These factors are in the recommended text book!

POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION
The concept of political socialization is quite new in the field of empirical and
behavioural research. It is the process by which an individual is acquainted with the
political system, which determines his perception of politics and his reactions to
political phenomenon. It is usually determined by the social, economic and cultural
environment of the society in which the individual lives and by the interaction of the
experiences and personality of the individual. Political socialization is the process by
which political cultures are maintained and changed. It refers mainly to the learning
process by which norms and behaviour acceptable to the political system are
transmitted. In a general sense, it refers to the way society transmits its political

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culture from generation to generation. Accordingly, Herbert Hyman defines political
socialization as the individual’s learning of social patterns corresponding to his social
positions as mediated through various agencies of the society. More so, Almond and
Powell, defines political socialization as the process whereby political attitudes and
values are inculcated as children become adult and as adult are recruited into roles. It
is also defined as all political learning, formal and informal, deliberate and unplanned,
at every stage of the life cycle, including not only explicitly political learning but also
nominally non-political learning of political relevant personality characteristics. Also
David Easton and Jack Dennis define political socialization as those developmental
processes through which persons acquire political orientations and patterns of
behaviour.
In fact, there are many other conceptions of political socialization as there are
scholars but generally, they regard political socialization as a necessary process of re-
engineering restructuring and learning of the specific and generally acceptable
political culture of a given polity in order to create an acceptable political behaviour
among its citizens towards the political system.

Stages of Political Socialization


Political socialization is conceived as a process which continues throughout
life, affecting the children, adolescents and adults. As already stated, it is a process
whereby political attitudes and values are inculcated as children become adults and as
adults are recruited into roles. The thrust of the study of political socialization has
two (2) aspects. First, it is concerned with the process of transmission of cultural
characteristics from generation to generation. Second, in order to understand the
transmission process, the study of political socialization attempts to identify the
process whereby children gain an awareness of politics and also the ways in which the
attitudes of adults are maintained or changed through later life. Through this, the
persistence in cultural patterns and political style exist because societies are able to
pass their major values and attitudes, intact from one generation to another. Hence,
the stability of a social or political system depends on the political socialization of its
members. Therefore, political socialization aims to achieve the goal of political
stabilization. Accordingly, scholars have identified three (3) major stages of political
socialization viz:

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1. Childhood socialization
2. Socialization of adolescence
3. Socialization of adults

Agents of Political Socialization


As has been stated earlier, political socialization is a process through which
one develops political awareness from early childhood to adulthood. Therefore, it is
necessary to study the relevant agents of political socialization. This in essence refers
to the roles played by groups and organizations as they influence the development of
political orientations. The main categories of socializing agents are:
1. Primary groups
2. Secondary groups
3. Reference groups
More so, other agents of political socialization, as enunciated by Okolie are:
the family, school, peer groups, employment sectors, mass media, political parties and
pressure groups. These can also be located within our three broad categories and the
details are contained in our recommended textbook.

MICRO-POLITICAL ANALYSIS
The Elite Theory
Originally it was developed in the field of sociology to explain the bahaviour
of men in the social setting. In its broad sense, it holds that every society consists two
categories of people:
1. The superior minority known as the elite, which exercises a preponderant
influence within the society; and
2. The inferior majority or the masses.
The term elite refer to those people who have some distinct qualities by which
they are differentiated from the general mass of the people. At the hearth of the elitist
theory is the assumption of the inadequacy of the average citizen. This therefore
implies that every political system particularly democratic systems must rely on the
wisdom, loyalty and skill of their political leader, not on the general mass of the
people. Every political system is divided into two (2) groups: the elite (political
entrepreneurs) possessing ideological commitment and manipulative skills and the
masses (citizens at large). In fact, the masses are the apolitical clay of the system, a
much larger class of passive followers, who have little knowledge of public affairs

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and are less interested in politics. Generally, in every sphere of life, the people who
have the highest indices in their branch of activities are normally referred to as elite.
That means we have elite of doctors, lawyers, lecturers, thieves, kidnappers,
prostitutes and what have you.
The elite are also divided into governing elite and non-governing elite. The
governing elite comprise of individuals, who directly or indirectly play some
considerable part in government and the non-governing elite comprise of people not
connected with governmental affairs.

Definitions of Elite
The first scholar to articulate the idea of division of society from the elitist
prism was Gaetalo Mosca, in his: “The Ruling Class (1896)”. However, it was
Vilfredo Pareto in “The Mind of the Society (1915 – 1919)” that first used the term
elite and masses to indicate superior and inferior groups in the society. Also, Roberto
Michels made a significant contribution in his “Political Parties: A Sociological study
of the Oligarchical Tendency of Modern Democracy (1911).” Meanwhile, Vilfredo
Pareto defines elite as people in a society who possess a marked degree qualities of
intelligence, character, skill and capacity of whatever kind. Parry Geraint defines
elite as small minorities who appear to play an exceptionally influential part in
political and social affairs. According to C. Wright Mills, elite is composed of men
who have the most of what there is to have, money, power, wealth, beauty and
prestige, who are able to realize their will even if others resist it, whose positions
enable them to transcend the ordinary environment of ordinary people and who are in
positions to make decisions having major consequences. It has also been defined as
those minorities, which are set apart from the rest of the society by their preeminence
in one or more spheres of distributions of various privileges and benefits. According
to Mosca’s postulations, the people are divided into two (2) groups – the rulers and
the ruled. The ruling class controls most of the wealth, power and prestige in society
and exercises all power in whatever form of government that might be adopted. The
ruled are not competent to replace it. As propounded by Roberto Michels in his
famous “Iron law of Oligarchy”, which implied that every organization whatever its
original aims are, is eventually reduced to an oligarchy that is the rule of the chosen
few.

18
Majority of human beings, it is argued, are apathetic, indolent and slavish and
they are permanently incapable of self-government. Accordingly, Pareto concluded
that the elite show highest ability in their field of activity whatever its nature may be,
while the masses are characterized by the lack of qualities of leadership and fear from
responsibility. In fact, the masses feel better in following the dictates of the elite.

Characteristics or Basic Assumption of the Elitist Theory


Deriving from our discussion so far, the characteristic or basic assumptions of
the elitist theory could be summarized as follows:
1. That every political system is divided into 2 groups the elites (rulers), the
masses (ruled).
2. The masses are the apolitical passive followers, with little knowledge of
governmental affairs and politics.
3. The elite control the social, material and political resources in every
society.
4. There is the reliance of the political system on the wisdom, loyalty and
scale of the view than on the population at large
5. The elitist theorist assume that politics is the determining force in history
and not economics
6. It also assumes that the men in power, constitutes a coercive group.
These basic assumptions of the elitist theory demonstrate that democracy as
government of the people is incapable of realization. The proponent of democracy
has demonstrated an inability to repudiate the argument advanced by the elitist
theorist. What indeed we call government of the people “democracy” is in fact,
government of the minority “oligarchy”. As a result, the champions of democracy
sort to accommodate the elitist theory in the framework of democratic theory, which
lead to its revision.
Consequently, the elitist democratic theory was developed by several writers
(scholars). Accordingly, Karl Mannheim in his attempt to reconcile the elite theory
and democratic theory argued that society does not cease to be democratic by
entrusting the actual shaping of policy to the elite. He maintained that as the masses
cannot directly participate in government, they can make their aspirations known,
accepting intervals and this is sufficient for democracy. He insists on selection by
merit and bridging of the gap between the elite and the masses in order to ensure

19
compatibility between elite rule and democratic government. In his own contribution
to the Elitist theory, Schumpeter argued that the forms of government should be
distinguished by their institutions and especially by their method of appointing and
dismissing the supreme-makers of law and policy. In words of Schumpeter, “the
democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions,
in which a competitive struggle for the people’s vote”. It could be deduced from their
both conception that in a democratic political organization, decisions are taken by the
leadership, not by the inferior majority. More so, it implies that leaders compete for
peoples’ vote in election. Consequently, one can argue that democracy is not a
government of the people, or a means to give effect to the will of the people, because
rulers comprise a distinct set of people, other than the masses. In fact, the role of
people in every so called democracy is reduced to merely choosing the leaders in a
competitive election between or among the elite; however what gave democracy
credence is that unlike other forms of government, it does not permit tyrannical rule,
because the political leadership that wield absolute power, could be voted out in
subsequent election.
As a result, political leadership must draw up policies with an eye on gaining
more support from the masses than its opponents. Meanwhile Raymond Aaron in his
attempt to combine democratic and elite theories argued that liberal democracy is
characterized by a system of check and balances, and plurality of elites as a result of
government becomes a business of compromise between the government elite and the
masses. Hence, the government must be sensitive to public opinion and conscious to
the opposition element with which they have to change seats in due course. However,
just like Mannheim and later for Schumpeter, Aaron also posit that the imitative still
remains in the hands of the elite, while masses play the relatively passive role of
choosing the rulers from among the elite. More so, there is no significant difference
between Schumpeter and Giovanni Sirtori in his “Democratic Theory 1958”.
Accordingly, Giovanni Sirtori regards democracy as a procedure in which leaders
(elites) compete at elections for authority to govern. For him the role of the elites
does not suggest any imperfection of democracy, but the call of democratic system.
He also advised that any notion of self-governing people is a delusion, except govern
by selecting their leaders. He therefore concluded that the real danger to democracy
emanates not from the existence of leadership, but form the absence of it which would
result in the people being exploited by anti-democratic counter-elite.

20
GROUP THEORY
Group theory of politics emerges as a reaction to the principle of atomistic
liberalism, enunciated by John Locke and Jeremy Bentham. The attempt to establish
the group rather than the individual or the society as the basic unit in political analysis
is the point of departure of the group theorist.
Group theory therefore focuses upon collectivities of individuals who interact
in pursuance of common political good. Group theory was developed for political
analysis by Arthur Bentley in his book “The Process of Government, 1908”. Scholars
did not follow up their theoretical application of group theory to political analysis,
until David B. Truman made an important study using group analysis. The study
known as the master piece is titled “Governmental Process, 1951’.
Bentley conceptualized group in terms of actions of men directed towards one
end.
A group for him is certain of the men of the society taken however not as a
physical mass of activities which does not preclude men who participate in it, from
participating likewise in many other group activities. A group is seen as a mass of
activity that tends to move to some definite cause of conduct.
Interest is seen as what gives direction to this mass of activity, hence, a group
can be perceived as “as a mass of activity directed by interest”. The social system
which consists of a large number of groups marks the arena for the interaction of
group activity. It is interest which links to the formation of groups. David B. Truman
defines a group as a collection of individuals, which on the basis of one or more
shared attitudes makes certain claims upon other groups in the society for the
establishment, maintenance or enhancement of behaviour that are implied in the
shared attitudes. What seems to proceed from the above definitions is that a group is
an aggregate of individuals, who interact in varying degrees in pursuance of a
common interest.
Group theorists focus on the collectivity and not on the individuals in the
attempt to uncover the real or basic forces of political life. They see power, interest
and conflict as the main variables in the systematic study of politics. They argue that
interest is the primary propelling force and that every action is based upon sharing of
interest. Power configuration is seen as basically, the configuration of competing
interest organized into groups. In this connection, ideology, values, the state, the
formal organization of political decision making and the content of decisions are

21
determined by the dynamic interplay of interest and group forces. Group theorists
believe that society comprises of dynamic processes (activities) and not merely
specific institutions (structures) or substantive content (values). The study of politics
and political behaviour for them, concerns the analysis of these groups and their
competing interests. As Bentley puts it, “when the groups are adequately stated,
everything is stated”. Legislation, politics and administration are the product of
groups’ conflict. Lathan puts it succinctly, the legislatures referees the group’s
struggle, ratifies the victory of the successful coalition and records the forms of the
surrenders, compromises and conquests in the form of statutes. S. V. Varma supports
this view and maintains that administration is the process of carrying into effect, the
treaties that the legislators have negotiated and ratified and the bureaucrats can be
compared to armies of occupation, left in the field to police the rule won by the
victorious coalition.
Group theorists like Gabriel Almond, James S Coldman and G. Powel have
developed typology of groups for comparative political analysis across national
boundaries. They identified four (4) types of interest group namely:
1. Associational interest groups
2. Institutional interest groups
3. Non-associational interest groups
4. Anomic interest groups
On a general note, Almond and Powel, define interest group as a group of
individuals who are linked by particular bonds of concern of advantage and who have
some awareness of these bonds.
Associational Interest Group
These are highly organized and specialized aggregates that explicitly represent
the interest of particular collectivity. They are well-staffed and relatively tightly knit.
Examples are trade unions, business, ethnic and religious organizations and civic
groups.
Institutional Interest Groups
These are created and assigned certain political functions by the state. Their
roles as interest groups are primarily to lobby in support of their own existence. Thus,
the defense ministry may draw attention to the dire necessity of increasing military
budge in the face of serious threats from the enemy even if this would lead to slashing
welfare budget. Examples mentioned by Almond include: legislatures, bureaucracies,

22
political parties, armies and churches. Others are subgroups like legislative blocks,
officer cliques and skill groups and ideological groups.
Non-Associational Interest Group
These pursue their interest informally and possess highly fluid, relatively
concealed and highly interactive pattern. Non-associational interest groups are
characterized by intermittent pattern of articulation, absence of organized procedure,
for establishing the nature and means of articulation and lack of continuity in the
internal structure. Examples include, kingship, lineage, ethnic, regional and status
collectivities. There are essentially two (2) forms of non-associational interest group:
1. The formal group of clique
2. Categoric Aggregation such as racial, ethnic, class and religious groups.
These groups are attributed objective interest upon which policy makers act as
if these groups consciously pursue their interest in their own behalf.
Anomic Interest Group
This includes spontaneous and eruptive aggregations such as riots,
demonstrations and other manifestations of mob activities. These groups may no be
in self-conscious pursuit of an interest though a particular interest may be attributed to
the group activity. Examples of anomic interest groups in Nigerian politics include
“The-Ali-must-go riot of 1977, the SAP riot of 1989, the annulment of June 12
presidential election of 1993, the anti-government riot of the death of M. K. O. Abiola
of 1998. Anomic groups are usually disturbing and disorderly to the ongoing social
and political system. The anomic groups are usually disturbing and disorder the
social and political system. The pattern of group formation is the most dramatically
intermittent in the anomic interest group.

THE THEORY OF RELATIVE DEPRIVATION, RISING EXPECTATION


AND FRUSTRATION AGGRESSION MODEL

The theory of relative deprivation is one of the most popular behavioural


explanatory frameworks in the study of violence. The central thesis of this framework
is that aggression is always a consequence of discontent of a kind. Relative
deprivation is defined as a perceived discrepancy between man’s (groups), value
expectation and value capabilities. By value expectation we refer to the goods and
conditions of life to which people believe they are rightfully entitled. Value
capabilities are the goods and conditions, they think they are capable of attaining and

23
maintaining given the social means available to them (Ted Gorr 1970). Therefore,
relative deprivation is the discrepancy between “oughts” and “is” of collective value
satisfaction. It is in fact, the degree to which the individuals (groups) feel deprived as
it relates to anger and frustration. This is related to frustration-aggression model of
analysis. Consequently, Gorr argued that relative deprivation is a necessary condition
for violence.

BASIC PREPOSITIONS OR ASSUMPTIONS OF RELATIVE DEPRIVATION


The following constitutes the basic assumptions of relative deprivation theory:
1. The greater the extent of discrepancy that men (group) see between what
they seek and what seems to be attainable, the greater their anger and
consequent disposition to aggression.
2. Men (group) who feel they have many opportunities (ways) to attain their
goals are less likely to become angry when one is blocked than those who
have few or just one alternative.
3. The intensity of men’s (groups) expectations, the greater their anger when
they meet unexpected or increased resistance.
More so, Gorr provided four (4) intervening variables which may condition
the perception of deprivation. They are:
1. The legitimacy of the political regime in which violence occur
2. Coercive potentials
3. Institutionalization
4. Social Structures
Similarly, James Davis attributed outbreak of violence to the frustration that
results from a short-term decline in achievement following a long-term increase that
generates expectation about continuing increase. Thus, he argues that whenever the
discrepancy between achievement and expectations become intolerable, it could lead
to violence. This also could mean revolution of rising expectations which refers to
the formation of expectations, which outruns the capacity of the political system to
satisfy them.

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WEAKNESS OF THE THEORY OF RELATIVE DEPRIVATION
Following the conceptualization of the theory of relative deprivation and its
various propositions and assumptions, we can observe some theoretical and empirical
difficulties or impurities.
First, the difficulty of conceptualization of “expectations”. According to
Obserschall, there is enormous difficulty in adequately defining the meaning of
expectation and empirically separating it from hopes, desires, wants, needs,
daydreams, wishes, etc. He further stated that even with the use of sophisticated tools
of measurement, like self-anchoring scale, measurement of expectations and relative
deprivation are subject to problems.
Second, implicit in the theory of relative deprivation is that violence occurs
when the want-get gap becomes intolerable. That is, when the gap between
expectation and capabilities become so wide. However, it is observed that the
estimation of intolerability is frequently indexed by the occurrence of violence itself.
Hence, there is the need for an independent evaluation of intolerability instead of its
behavioural consequences.
Finally, the above criticisms not withstanding, it is a valid conclusion to say
frustration arising from deprivation, in most cases motivate people to violent act.
However, it appears rather narrow, to argue that frustration will and often produce
violence. It evident from empirical observation, that even when deprivation is intense
on individual or a large group, it is only a necessary conditions not a sufficient one for
violence. By necessary condition we mean, a variable that must combine with others
to produce an outcome. It would be absolutely essential to identify the other factors
with which it must relate and it what ways to yield a consequence, while on the other
hand, it is equally essential to note that when a condition is sufficient, it may or may
not mean that it is the only one with that potential. By sufficient condition we mean,
a variable that can act alone to produce an outcome (Igwe 2002).

25
THE POWER THEORY
The real meaning of power has been a matter of controversy to many scholars
on account of its social, economic, political, psychological, sociological and spiritual
ramifications. Recently, the idea of power has assumed an importance of its own in
the realm of political theory. The reason for this should be traced to the fact that, the
meaning of politics has changed from one of being a study of state and government to
that of being a study of power. Accordingly, Curtis stated politics is organized
dispute about power and its use involving choice among competing values, ideas,
persons, interests and demands. The study of politics is concerned with the
description and analysis of the manner in which power is obtained, exercised and
controlled, the purpose for which it is used, the manner in which decisions are made,
the factors, which influence the making of those decisions and the context in which
those decisions take place.
Power has been defined in so many ways, by scholars and practitioners,
depending on their vibrancy and circumstances. Accordingly Toney defines power as
the capacity of an individual or a group of individuals to modify the conduct of others
in the manner which one desires. According to Mao Tse-Tung, power comes from the
barrel of a gun, while an apostle of peace, truth and non-violence like Ghandi
substituted the force of gun and bomb with the power of love and truth emanating
from the will of the people. Hans Morgenthau defines power as man’s control over
the minds and actions of others. Power is thus seen as the ability of an actor to direct
other actors to bend towards one’s will; to extract habitual obedience, to bring others
into submission and the ability to dominate. Politics is therefore, the struggle for
domination and control.
Political power on the other hand refers to mutual relations of control among
the holders of public authority and between the latter and the people at large. Also
power may be defined as the ability of an actor to achieve its objectives in spite of
opposition and despite obstacles. It is in this sense, that power is defined as the
capacity to produce an effect. Power is measured at the end of the action. Power is
exercised only when an obstacle has been scaled or overcome, that is, when an
objective has been achieved. Karl Deutsch defined power in this sense as the ability
to prevail in conflicts. Another definition of power tends to contradict the behavioural
perception of power in terms of human relationship. Power is also seen as the
possession and control of resources of influence and compulsion. This includes skill,

26
technology, economic resources, financial resources and instruments of coercion.
This definition of power does not involve relationship. It is in this sense that
individuals or nations that possess such elements of power as stated above as seen to
be powerful.
However, power as a possession, tends to contradict its behavioural
implications in human relations. For instance, the possession of vast strategic
economic resources like petroleum by Nigeria does not imply the control over such
resources. The production of Nigerian petroleum resources is more or less, controlled
by foreign technology. Again, power as a possession, is certainly in conflict
contradicted.
Power is the faculty or capacity to conquer in a contest. Force is an adjunct
and not an essence of power. It is the most brutal manifestation of power. However,
the potency or capacity to manipulate the will and activities of others to make them
conform to the power-seeker’s will is the central point in power. Power may be based
on other elements like fraud, ingenuity or combination and group tactics. It can also
be derived from established constitutional and legal procedures. However, instead of
involving one’s self in the cobwebs of different ramifications of power, one may take
a generalized view and say that power is taken to denote the whole spectrum of those
external influences that by being brought to bear upon an individual (group) can make
him move in a required direction.

CLASSES AND CLASS STRUGGLE


Class Analysis
The social class analysis of the political system has both the liberal and
Marxist political economy variants. Generally however, the social class analytical
framework regards social stratification as a fundamental reality on social and political
life. This stratification system has been and hard-grave noted not only includes all
member of the society but also forms the basic determinants of conflict and change.
The Liberal Perspective of the Social Class Analysis
Scholars of the liberal orientation, divide social classes into various strata such
as upper class, middle class and lower class. There are equally further sub-divisions
of upper-upper class, middle-upper, lower-upper, upper-middle, middle-middle,
lower-middle, etc. The definition of such social stratification is based solely on
wealth and social status. Those who own and control property have a high birth rate

27
good education, etc. belong to the upper class or middle class. Those with high birth
always belong to the upper class, while those individuals with low birth but with
wealth belong to the middle class. Those who are poor have no property and prestige
belong to the lower class. These individuals are mostly low income factory workers
and peasants who eke out their living on daily or monthly basis. The recognition of
the relationship between social class and the political process represents the critical
point of investigation for the social class analytical framework. Social class position
of an individual defined in terms of wealth and social status is assumed to relate to a
nation’s political process.
The liberal perspective of the social class analysis, is concerned with
determining whether a particular socio-economic class (upper class for example),
dominate the ultimate decision making process. Once this relationship is established
or supported by evidence, the liberal class analyst is interested in the capacity of the
society to process and act upon the demands of the masses. The liberal theorists see
the politics of most nations as being dominated by the upper and middle classes.
Political power is perceived to flow from the dominant sector of the society
downwards. The rich and the prestigious exercise exceptional influence on the
decision making processes even as social mobility occupies from the lower to the
higher status position. Liberal theorists hold the view that the widening of the
franchise and the more democratic application of the institutions of representative
government, would expand the middle class towards citizenship, property, manner,
liberty, responsibility and commitment; and according to David Abter, we depend on
the degree to which new political opportunities are opened up as new leaders are
drawn from an ever-widening pole. The more participation there is in a common
political culture, the faster rigid class distinctions disappear.

Criticisms of the Liberal Social Class Analysis


Nnoli (1986) has taken a sweep at the liberal perspective of social class
analysis. His argument is proceeds as follows:
• The liberal perspective tends to equate classes with social groups that share
occupation, education, income, lifestyle, etc. In this way, classes are seen as
socio-economic groups with differentiated access to wealth. It sees classes as
an economic and not a political relationship. This reduces the concept of class
to a static quantitative category. The political implication, nature and
character of class, is wittingly and unwittingly removed. Thus, the implication
of class for state power is obfuscated. Politically, the upper class, middle and

28
lower classes are identified and political attitudinal patterns are arbitrarily
assigned to them. However, there is no logical link between the assumed
existence and their political behaviour. Classes are therefore frozen in static
statistical frame and implication for political action is that emphasis is placed
on distribution and not on production. At the level of distribution, the society
does appear as a collection of individual consumers or income groups. In this
way, the historical role of social classes and their political efficacy in the
development process is rendered redundant.

The Marxist Political Economy Social Class Analysis

Marxist political economist view of the concept of class is predicated on Karl


Marx analysis of classes and his theory of class theory. In the Communist Manifesto
jointly produced by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engel, it is quoted thus “that the history
of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle, freeman and slave,
patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guide master and journey-men, in a world,
oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another, carrying on an
uninterrupted now-hidden, now-open fight, a fight that each time ended either in a
revolutionary reconstruction of society at large or in the common rein of the
contending classes.”
Marxist political economists perceive class struggle as a struggle between
classes. According to V. I. Lenin, classes are large group of people, differing from
each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social
production by their relation to the means of production, by their role in the social
organization of labour, and consequently, by the dimension of the share of social
wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes as Lenin
maintains are groups of people, one of which can appropriate the labour of another,
owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social production.
The existence of classes is therefore associated only with historically determined
modes of production.
Marxists generally perceive class differentiation in terms of:
1. The appropriation of labour
2. The participation in the labour process
Class relations are seen as political power relations; class struggle is seen as
political struggle; class consciousness is seen as political consciousness and class
conflict is seen as political conflict. The focus of analysis is therefore on the mode of
production and the dialectical arguments immanent in the production process and the

29
subsistence of antagonistic classes in society. The social relations of production of a
society is seen to throw up two groups or classes of people – a group of class that
controls the means of production – the haves and the group of class that do not control
the means of production – the have nots. Thus, social class simply refers to the social
relations of production in the society. The haves are the economically dominant class
who reproduce their dominance at the political level as the political dominant class.
The have nots are the economically subjugated class whose subjugation is reproduced
at the level as the political dominated or oppressed class.
For Marxists, class struggle takes the form of social division of labour. Intra-
class struggle involves the different factions or fractions of the dominant class as
typified by the nature and character of social division of labour. The state becomes
the mechanism that gives stability to class struggle by moderating it either peacefully
or violently as occasion demands. Associated with the concept of class and class
struggle are the notion of class in itself and class for itself. Class in itself means that
members of the group play a similar role in production, but are not conscious of their
common interest. Class for itself means that a group not only shares a similar role in
production, but is also aware of their common interest and engages in some form of
conscious collective struggle.
Structurally however, a group’s class position is determined by its place in the
production process and its role in the domination of the state irrespective of whether
its members define their identity in those terms. Therefore, an understanding of the
class position of a group in structural terms may be used to predict pattern of
behaviour, which may not be perceived by actors as class oriented. A political analyst
using the Marxist political economy social class analysis is therefore concerned with
how a society produces its material existence. The analysts focuses on the mode of
production and on the contending groups of classes, and proceeds by asking the
questions, who decides what is to be produced, when it is to be produced, how it is to
be produced and how the product of production process is to be distributed. By
focusing of the nature of the relations of production, the Marxist political economy
social class analyst captures the complexities of human societies. It sees the
differences among them in terms of an unending struggle among the various classes
for a position of dominance over the production process. Thus, the state becomes
equally the focus of analysis because, the state is not only a product of this struggle,
and it is also an expression of it.

30
The implication of this mode of analysis is that it shows why each state is
different from the others – because of the peculiarities of its dominant class, the
subjugated class, the nature of the struggle between them, the level of sophistication
of the state agencies employed in this struggle and the manner in which the dominant
class appropriates the product of production and ensures its survival. It is on this
basis that states can be differentiated from each in comparative political analysis.
Thus, when we talk of politics, the political process or the political system, the
Marxist political economy social class analysis helps us to focus on those activities,
which has to do with the coming into being of a particular state notably, the
assumption of power by a particular fraction of the dominant class, the struggles
between the various classes, and their fractions to retain or gain political power and
the manner in which society is organized in order to ensure that material and
psychological privileges accrued to the dominant class without threatening their
domination. The society can therefore be understood in its past and present and its
future can be predicted on this basis because at any time, the society represents a
specific manifestation of the endless struggles of contending classes over the means of
sustenance. In this context, a political system is properly perceived as a social
formation which is distinguished by its modality of social class domination and to this
end, comparative political analysis is enhanced.
To conclude, the Marxist economy social class analysis shunned of its
ideological biases has a very illuminatory, explanatory and emancipatory value for the
analysis of political system.

PUBLIC OPINION AND PROPAGANDA


Public opinion are widely held stable views not naturally unanimous or
majority views but a view held simultaneously by a collection of people linked
together by common desires within a political system. Every political system is made
up of several “publics”. It is the aggregate of individual attitude or belief held by the
adult population. It can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many
different people and the sum of all their views. It is to be stated that opinion of the
public is not necessarily the opinion of the people, yet it represents the opinion of a
public capable of functioning politically and this is vital to an understanding to
politics or the dynamics of the political system. In fact, hard-won human and civil
rights guarantee that public opinion can exist and can be expressed. And this includes

31
freedom of thought, opinion and speech, freedom to associate and to demonstrate and
finally freedom of the press.
Public opinion as a concept gained credence with the rise of “public” in the
eighteenth (18th) century. The concept came about through the process of
urbanization and other political and social forces. For the first time, it became
important what people thought as forms of political contentions changed.
Accordingly, Jeremy Bentham opined that public opinion has the power to ensure that
rulers rule for the greatest happiness for the greatest number. In another development,
the American sociologist Herbert Blumer proposed an altogether different conception
of the “public”. According to him, public opinion is discussed as a form of collective
behaviour which is made up of those who are discussing a given public issue at any
given time. Following from this definition therefore, there are many “publics” each
of them comes into being when an issue arises and ceases to exist when the issue is
resolved. For him, people participate in public in different capacities and to different
degrees. As a result, public opinion polling cannot measure the public or the people
adequately. The situation in which people independently make decision about for
example, which brand of phone to buy is a form of collective behaviour different from
the public and therefore is not public opinion.
Public opinion plays an important role in the political sphere. Cutting across
all aspects of relationship between government and public opinion are the studies of
voting behaviour. These have registered the distribution of opinions on a wide variety
of issues, and have explored the impact of special interest groups on election
outcomes and have contributed to our knowledge about the effects of government
propaganda and policy. Three (3) communities of people who form public opinion
are: public leaders and thinkers; common educated class; and common people.
Moreover, it is important to note that whether public opinions are formed by
the elites or non-elites, there are certain agents (like agents of socialization) that
account for the formation of public opinion by any class of people. Accordingly,
Leeds identified these agents to include the following:
• Social groups and institutions
• Mass media
• Pressure groups and political parties
• The role of government

32
PROPAGANDA
Propaganda is the conveying of facts and opinions in such a way as to teach
the people how to make up their minds not how to think and consequently, how to
behave. In fact, for any communicative interaction to have a controlling influence on
public opinion in a determined direction is propaganda. With propaganda, the
audience of the communication process is not allowed much freedom to reject the
content of the communication. Thus, propaganda involves the use of communication
strategies, techniques and tactics that compulsively campaigns and appeals to the
emotions, sentiments and conviction of the audience. In this light, propaganda is
ideological communication. It main objective is the justification of policy or line of
action. It is also use to undermine the position of the opponent. It is to be stated that
as democratic government depend on the favour of public opinion so does the success
of any major governmental programme depend to an extent on the attitude of the
people whose support emanate from their knowledge as express through propaganda.
The people’s knowledge came about as a result of appropriate information and
conviction. In fact, propaganda is the attempt to convince. It is a conscious and
definite intent on the part of persons, governments or pressure groups to influence the
formation of attitudes, the expression of opinion and the behaviour of the persons to
hlakjd;alkdja they address their efforts. It implies the use of suggestion by means of
which opinions expressed by the propagandist became those of his audience through
the transformation, adoption and integration of their attitudes. Therefore, any person,
organization or government that addresses itself (himself) to the problem of
communicating ideas with the intention of influencing his hearers towards a line of
action is a propagandist. The intention must be direct and conscious. On the other
hand, any action, utterance, etc. which meets the end of its goal by simply coming
into being but which nevertheless happens by uncalculated design is not propaganda.
It may achieve a propaganda objective but its at best coincidental pseudo-propaganda
or unintentional propaganda.

TECHNIQUES AND TACTICS


Propaganda strategy is the overall campaign plan and therefore covers the
aims or policies of the government or group carrying out the propaganda. Technique
refers to the content of the communication i.e. what is said and what is done. Tactics

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refer to the method, that is, how it is said and how it is done. As a result, technique
and tactics go hand in hand and includes the following:
• Spreading false rumour
• Misrepresentation through skillful selection or distortion of facts
• Bandwagon. This implies stressing the endorsement of the group’s policy by
the majority and therefore suggesting to the audience to adopt the fashion
since everyone is supporting it.

• Emotional appeals: this is the use of emotional rather than appeals such as
appealing to passion or prejudice in order to cloud the main issue or divert
attention. Here, slogans, symbols, or catch-words are used.

POLITICAL PARTIES AND VOTING BEHAVIOUR


Origin of Political Parties
Originally, the emergence of parties was not designed by a theory or blueprint
nor were they always considered necessary to a democracy. They were viewed as
infamous bodies of rabble-rousers and were dismissed by political thinkers as enemies
of the democratic process and the orderly pursuit of society. The early development
of party theory was hampered by a general fear of factions by both political
philosophers and political leaders. Until the development of parties, most political
systems with rare exceptions have the monarchies. The monarch’s interest in
preserving his own power base, has led him to suspect any opposing force, which
were viewed as divisive and therefore harmful. The party as a newly developing
social institution was often considered to be a faction by government leaders and thus,
was attacked. Long before the coming of electoral democracy, the state had had a
varied structure of public officials – mayors, members of parliament, ministers, etc.
These offices were attained by people in a variety of ways: by being born into them
(hereditary), by buying the offices through bribery and by appointment, etc. In fact,
hostility towards parties was evident in the newly emerging American nation. In his
farewell address, George Washington warned about the division of the electorate into
parties or factions. He emphasized the common ties that bounds citizens together, the
benefit to be found in unity and the inability of the party membership to prevent the
rise of cunning ambitions and of unprincipled men who will subvert the power of the
people and usurp for themselves the reins of government. The implication of
Washington’s fear is that the domination of one faction over another sharpened by the

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spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has
perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. In fact, long
after the parties have been formed and acknowledged, and particular in the late 1800
and early 1900, two (2) European theorists Moisi Ostrogorskr and Roberto Michelles
actively opposed parties as inevitably anti-democratic. Ostrogoskr’s fear that the
party will become an obstacle to voters’ representation was shared by Roberto
Michelles in his famous “Iron Law of Oligarchy”, Michelles argue that party
leadership will inevitably become an oligarchy – the few ruling the many. He
maintained that the party leaders would automatically have a vested interest in
maintaining and increasing their power. Thus, political participation would be
subordinated to party survival. However, not all elite political theorists and leaders
perceive the party as a divisive and hence a destructive force in politics.
For example, Edmund Burke in 1700 defined party as a body of men united
for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest upon some particular
principle in which they are all aggrieved. He saw party as a respectable and at times a
necessary component of a democratic system. And even as Washington warned
against parties, members of his own cabinet were leading separate and hostile groups
of government officials; with the growth of these groups and official
acknowledgement of their leaders, the American party for all intent and purposes was
born.
Consequently, as parties have become an integral part of political system, the
trend to view them as inherently anti-democratic has largely disappeared. Indeed,
some American political scholars have argued that modern democracy would be
impossible except in terms of parties as postulated by Schatt Schneider organization
was necessary to the foundation and maintenance of democracy. The most important
question in politics was power and the mark of a democratic regime was its ability to
give the masses power. However, in order for the masses to receive power some type
of organization was necessary. The organization representing the masses would
exercise power in their name. Accordingly, he concluded that the best organization
to represent the masses and distribute power was the party.

Importance and Functions of Political Parties


Among other things political parties perform the following functions:

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• It provides alternative government
• It serves as the basis for electoral democracy
• It stands for the promotion of the national interest.
• It serves as an institution that distributes power in a state to the people
(masses).
• It serves as an agent of mobilization of the masses
• It serves as an institution for the recruitment and socialization of leaders
• It provides a sources of democratic identity
• It provides political leaders with a channel of control over other leaders
• Political parties play the role of makers of a democratic government
• It articulates and formulates the interest of the masses, etc.
Political parties created democracy but modern democracy is unthinkable
except in terms of political parties, discuss within the context of political parties.

VOTING BEHAVIOUR
One of the major characteristic of a participatory political culture is the
exercise of franchise during election. This manifests as voting power, which the
masses/people have and this also expresses the power of the people. Voting
demonstrates the degree of people’s involvement and participation in politics. In a
democratic state particularly where free and fair elections are conducted, the fear of
people’s vote is the beginning of wisdom of the political class (elites). Whenever free
and fair elections take place, particularly through secret-ballot voting, the direction
and genuine individual feeling about a particular candidate or party, manifests in its
true form.
To be sure, voting has to do with the picking of choice between one or more
alternatives. These alternatives could be in form of policies or candidates. Generally,
what people actually vote for are not limited to the goods and services promised in the
manifesto of the party, but also on who should be given the mandate to provide the
services. In fact, through voting, people put their future in the hands of a chosen few.
As simple as the idea of voting may appear, it embraces the totality of a people
surrendering their rights and power of governing themselves to a body of men
(government) purposely to provide for them those things that they cannot individually
provide for themselves. It connotes the choice to live a better life or to be doomed.

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Therefore, the concept of voting is a very serious matter. However, the critical issue
is what constitutes voting behaviour, that is to say, why and how do people vote, how
can voting behaviour be identified in order to make a generalization, etc.

Factors Affecting Voting Behaviour


Among the factors that affect voting behaviour are”
• Prevailing historical circumstance
• Religion
• Ethnicity
• Gender issue
• Ideological alignment
• Personality in politics
• Policies and programs; and
• Monetary inducement

POLITICAL CORRUPTION AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE


Political violence is a necessary product of political corruption. Do you agree?
Discuss in context of Nigerian politics.
In any organization or state, there are usually a set of rules and norms that
regulate or guide the operations of the system. These rules performs the functions of
controlling the workers in the system or maintaining social order in the state; and a
deviation from these rules is likely to lead to corrupt practices. Accordingly,
corruption is an act which deviates from the formal rules of conduct governing the
actions of someone in a position of authority because of private regarding motives
such as words, power and status. Essentially, political corruption refers to such acts
as misuse of public office of the state for private aggrandizement. This includes
fraud, embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of funds, mismanagement of funds,
extortion, misuse of government vehicles for private purposes, etc. These vices have
been attributed to insecurity and uncertainty of the social security system.
By social security we mean, the act designed to guarantee the possible risk of
the old, the disabled, and the unemployed. It is the protection which society provides
for its members through series of public measures against economic and social
distress that otherwise would be caused by the loss or substantial reduction of

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earnings resulting from sickness, maternity, employment injury, unemployment,
invalidity, old age and death, etc. In fact, the underlined principle is the pulling of
risk and finances together and the packaging of benefits to cushion the effect of
contingencies. Corruption is essentially a social problem to the extent that it affects
many people even if it is committed by one person.
Following from the above therefore, political violence is usually a
consequence of political corruption. Political violence is any act that is targeted to the
political system or the incumbent of political offices in the state. It is any forceful or
violent act that is intended to compel or redirect the stable cause of development of
the political system. It is usually a consequence of the deprivation of any group
within the political system. Political violence may also arise from external sources,
when wars and other belligerent activities induce abnormal procedures in the conduct
of domestic affairs. Certain extreme measures by international actors including the
out-rightly unlawful act of aggression may equally constitute political violence upon
the global system.

IDENTITY POLITICS
By identity politics, we mean any political action that is initiated and or
executed by members of a political community with the aim of protecting their group
interest. Often times, the political action is targeted towards the state or its incumbent
by a group supposedly oppressed on the basis of their identity.
In Africa, as elsewhere in the globe, groups are usually characterized by
multiple identities; it is either southerner or northerner, Arab or Black Africa, Muslim
or Christian and other various ethnic cleavages, each of these may have some leaning
on the group’s political conduct and socio-economic role in the society. It is the
particular identity that has he most significant impact on the political behaviour of the
individual group that is the determinant element of the group’s being. More so,
identity informs and guides political behaviour as they add dynamism to political
conduct in the context of plural society. Deriving from the above, we shall focus on
ethnic and religious identity.
Ethnicity:
Ethnicity is a social phenomenon that is associated with the identity of
members of the larges possible competing communal groups (ethnic groups) seeking
to protect and advance their interest in a political system. The relevant communal

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factors may be culture, race, religion or common history. It is associated with
interactions among communal groups. Meanwhile, the salience of identity politics
defined in the context of ethnicity has continued to intensify its political relevance in
the understanding and interpretation of African politics in spite of the pervasiveness
of global political culture. Since most societies are heterogeneous, it should not be
surprising that ethnicity has remained such a powerful factor in the domestic politics
of many nations particularly Nigeria. To be sure, the whole essence of mobilization
of people on the basis of ethnicity is to eliminate the tendency of marginalization
especially as it concerns the allocation of resources.
In fact, the distribution of the benefits of modernization across different ethnic
groups is usually inevitably allocated, this is easily identified because ethnicity is one
way in which a people can be distinguished from one another especially as criteria for
measuring the level of socio-economic and political distribution. Thus, we witness in
Nigeria, the marginalization of certain ethnic groups as it concerns certain resource
distribution particularly political and economic resources.
Among other things, the following constitute the basic attribute of ethnicity:
• Cultural prejudice
• Socio-economic and political discrimination
• Ethnocentrism
• Common consciousness
• Exclusiveness of members of a group
Cultural Prejudice: Prejudice and discrimination characterize ethnicity, in-group
sentiment and sense of solidarity, predisposed members of ethnic groups to look more
favourably on their own group members than on neighbouring out-group members.
This bias often finds expression in interethnic discrimination in jobs, housing, and
admission into schools, promotion, business deals and welfare services.
Socio-Economic and Political Discrimination: This characterize ethnicity, it
embodies a tendency to exclude out-group members from socio-economic
opportunities and welfare services.
Ethnocentrism: This is attitudinal in form and perceptional in content. It represents
the subjective dimension of ethnicity. The members of a group (communal, national
or international) are ethnocentric when they are proud of it and consequently are

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inward looking. Their attachment to and pride in the group reflects their
ethnocentrism
Common Consciousness: Ethnicity is characterized by a common consciousness of
members of the communal groups I relation to other such groups. More than any
other factor, this factor defines the boundary of the group that is relevant for
understanding ethnicity at any historical point in time. It is this factor that
distinguishes the Hutu and Tutsi of both Rwanda and Burundi; who share the same
culture, language, religion, etc.
Exclusiveness of Members of a Group: This nature of exclusiveness is associated
with in-group/out-group boundaries which the groups guard jealously. Consequently,
acceptance and rejection on communal grounds characterize the social relations
among competing groups. As a result, members of a communal group look towards
their group for support; the consequent inter-group cohesion act to solidify boundaries
of communal groups. It is worthy of note that during the pre-colonial times, there was
a great mixing of African peoples especially at the boundaries of their societies.
However, because of ethnicity such mixing of peoples is no longer very possible
today. In-group/out-group boundaries have emerged and become frozen cultural
barriers.

THE ROLE OF ETHNICITY


Ethnicity does not exist in a pure form it is always closely associated with
political, religious and other social views which constitute its important ingredient as
well. Ti also alters its form, place and role in the life of society. It is not immutable
among other things ethnicity performs the following functions:
• It promotes the appreciation of individual social roots in the community and
the creation of a social network which provides material and emotional
support for members of society.
• It fosters in the relevant population a sense of belonging and also mediates
between the individual and the larger society.
• Within the context of the socio-economic and political insecurity generated by
state violence and destructive competition in the market commodity, ethnicity
holds individuals together, gives them internal cohesion, encourages them to
provide mutual security for each other and promote their sense of identity and

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direction. By implication, ethnicity offers a personal solution to the generic
problems of exploitation, oppression, deprivation, intimidation, alienation, etc.
• Ethnicity also is associated with persistent and fundamental demand for
democratization of the society’s policy formulation and implementation.
Modern democracy at least in principle is opposed to any form of domination,
oppression, exploitation and privileges; and through ethnic struggles, these can
be corrected.
• Again, the mobilization aspect of ethnicity has served a positive function
throughout the globe particularly in Africa. It provided a basis for the
mobilization of indigenous people against colonial rule. This mobilization
often began in the urban centres with the leader wooing and easily obtaining
the support of active participation of the voluntary mutual help organization of
his or her own ethnic groups.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF ETHNICITY
• It hinders the emergence and sustenance of social harmony in a multi-ethnic
society. Because it embodies passionate and symbolic aspects, it makes it
susceptible to hostility, conflict and violence. One of its striking features is its
capacity and tendency to turn every individual into a soldier by the sole virtue
of his her group identity.
• Ethnic hostility arising from reactions to state violence and divisive
competition for resources has a high propensity to culminate in aggressive
behaviour. This usually result sin the intrusion of irrationality into inter-ethnic
antagonism and the emergence of an increasingly inter-spiral of a self-
confirming hostility, suspicions, actions, counter-actions and expectations,
which are virtually unrelated to he initial cause of antagonism and which open
up the possibility of inter-ethnic violence.
• Finally, the effects of ethnic conflicts are usually more dramatic in their
dynamics than the positive elements. This explains why a great deal of effort
is committed in combating ethnicity in spite of its positive effects.

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