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What Can “Thin” Political Culture Do? Based on an Analysis of Cognitive Sociology

China Social Science Review

No.1, 2022

 

What Can “Thin” Political Culture Do? Based on an Analysis of Cognitive Sociology

(Abstract)

 

Hu An’ning

 

In the study of political culture, the “thick” paradigm emphasizes the macro-level, holistic, and homogeneous nature of the culture, whereas the “thin” paradigm focuses on empirical cognition, constructivism, environmental endogeneity, interpersonal heterogeneity, and dynamic plasticity. In empirical research, however, the “thick” paradigm often takes explicit discourse as the basis of cultural analysis, thereby potentially giving rise to the risk of information distortion. In addition, its description of the average character of cultural features has led to a situation in which the thin political culture paradigm is prone to regress into the thick political culture paradigm at some meso-level. If, however, we start out from the approach of cognition of the social sciences, the diverse models of cognitive schema can be directly applied to the heterogeneity analysis of individual political cultures. A variety of identifiable cognitive schemas can aid researchers to decompose macrolevel empirical patterns and ultimately form macro-micro connections. Exploring the life experience factors that influence schema structure enables researchers to explain the dynamic plasticity of political culture schemas.