Corruption Issues in State and Local Politics: Is Political Culture a Deep Determinant?
41 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 10, 2014
To what extent do variations in political culture influence the number and types of corruption issues arising in U.S. states? Drawing upon Daniel Elazar’s enduring typology of American political subcultures — Moralistic, Individualistic, and Traditionalistic — and using a new Corruption Reflections Index (CRI) based upon news reports of corruption within states, we find that political culture remains a “sticky” deep determinant of the distribution of corruption issues. Unlike previous empirical studies we do not treat political culture as a set of consensus values, but rather emphasize tensions that can arise when multiple political cultures coexist in a state. Thus, we show that certain combinations of political cultures tend to produce more numerous news reports of corruption issues. Those effects, in turn, depend in part upon the overall frequency of corrupt events and related controversies within the states: those in the higher quantiles of the CRI exhibit distinctive relationships between mixes of political culture and CRI scores. Our findings are of interest not only with respect to the enduring role of culture itself, but also in terms of how it might help us understand the growing number of actions that are legal, yet still seen by many as corrupt.
Keywords: Institutional Corruption, Political Culture, Corruption Issues, Corruption Reflections Index, American States, Politics
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