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Texas History and Culture Assignment

Question: Texas History and Culture - Political Culture in Houston

Is Houston more individualistic or traditionalistic? Or is it something else entirely? Does it fit into any of Dr. Elazar''s categories?

Write a 2 - 5 page college-level essay about Houston''s political culture.


Political culture is the philosophy which essentially comprises the set of attitudes, attitudes and sentiments that invariably give an order and meaning to the political process. The culture of the same will reflect the behaviour of the political system. Principally political culture is classified into three categories viz., Moralistic, Traditionalistic and individualistic. Moralistic culture assumes and believes that the government of the state should work for the betterment of the state and it is expected that the government should work for the welfare and wellbeing of the people in general. Traditionalistic government assumes and believes that the government is expected to work for keeping up the status quo or the social order of the society. Individualistic political culture visualizes the politics as a market place where in each person with their individual interests and causes will work for betterment of their causes. An American federal system has an unique flexibility where in different states and local governments can have their own experimentation with their own style and culture of politics. For evaluating the type of the political culture being followed in each of these states, Professor Elazar Framework of political systems can be employed. The following part of the write-up attempts to explain the three different types of political cultures viz., Moralistic, traditionalistic and individualistic and works out to explain what makes up the Houston's sentiment in the political scenario. How is the culture of the Houston? and what shaped it to the current situation and what are the most significant traits of the same in the historical times lines are discussed in the write-up. Finally the type of political culture of Houston is presented herein.

Overview of the states division as per Professor Elazar framework of political systems

Studying the nature of the political culture of the state can have definite advantage like it works for understanding the nature of the states and the response of the citizens in general towards the state governance and the political participation. The principles of Elazar are very much useful in understanding both the behaviour of the state as well as understanding the root causes that molded the behaviour of the states in this particular manner. In most of the cases, the state political behaviour is shaped by the ethnic and religious influences. Apart from these aspects in recent years there is much concern being expressed by the scholars that demographical and the economic factors do have implications in shaping the political behaviour tuned for post material values.


Houston and its political culture:

Individualistic political culture is one that works mostly for maintaining the stable government with very minimum intervention with the individual lives. While traditionalistic approach always work for keeping up the status quo and the maintaining the existing political configurations and equations in the society, individualistic political approach remains with very minimum intervention with the people. By keenly studying these aspects, it can be said that the Houston is mostly an individualistic style of political culture. As per Prof. Elazar evaluation of the Houston(Gunn,2017) political characteristics, evaluating its economic excellence (Forbes) the inferences are closely linking the state politics with the economic and social conservatism, there is evidence towards personal politics and very strong distrust towards political parties. Further in Houston there is evidence regarding the minimization of the political party's significance and the distrust towards the same is magnified as well. One of the significant political observation of the country is the state's minimal political intervention is the minimum zoning in the state. Inspite of being the fourth largest state with more than 2.0 million population there is no zoning still unlike other Sunbelt urban metros (Learning, 2019).

Houston political culture and its uniqueness in individualistic attitude, different from traditionalistic views can be seen from few instances like an open LGBT contestant Ms Parker was elected as the mayor of the city(Stockwell&Sheskin,2015) Houston has earlier record of stringent fights against equal rights to the gays, lesbians and other sexual orientated people (Texastribune). There were agitations recorded against legitimization of the gay marriages in the city(Collins et al.,2017). Keeping these things in the context, the current election of an open gay is a history. It also indicates the how distinct is the political culture of the city from the individual lives. Not only at common citizens, even the leaders of the parties and their personal lives are not interfered and only political interventions do matter in the city (chronicle). The recent election results indicating the sweep over by Republicans in the states of Texas; could not destroy or change the sentiment of the Houston. Houston is still remained in the account of Democrats. This is an indication that Houston is distinct by culture and unique, it will not simply go with the wind type of culture.

As per the surveys conducted by rice university public affairs and other similar organizations, it is revealed that most of the people in the city are against the legislature and its overriding tendency over the local government decisions. Typical examples like reining in pay day lenders to settling rules for Uber and other ride-hailing services, the people are strongly opposing the legislature framing the rules for them. Also using state revenues for funding the private and parochial schools also opposed as per the survey results. These are individualistic political attitudes. At the same time Houston citizens are proactive to build resilience towards the floods damage (Tullos,2018), which disrupting the lives of Houston and the neighbourhood every year. To comprehend Houston is neither conservative as well not liberal too, it is more a pragmatic city (tribune). Fragmented regional governance is also an unique feature in the Houston governance structure. There are numerous fragmented divisions in the Harris county appraisal district itself, which do not have privileges to collect the sales taxes like in other regions also are not equipped to pass ordinances. These concerns are creating special annexations and provisions (Goldstein & Young, 2018).

To summarize diverse observations seen in Houston city and observing the political traits of the country, it can be said that the city political culture is unique and it is different from main stream Texas political culture as well. It is not just traditionalistic and several traits of individualistic political culture can be seen and hence it is justifiable to term Houston's political structure as more an individualistic.


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