Title: Political Culture: Comparing Germany and United States
Most people and especially stereotypes will be tempted to think of Germany in terms of its history when the Nazi ruled in the era of the Second World War. However, what is notable is that Germany forms an important core for in the economy of the European Union. Not only are the Germans well vast with technical knowledge which has led to their flourishing manufacturing and automotive sectors but also committed to the achievement of their country’s goals. It is typical to hear people from the United States mention that Germans are serious and have little sense of humor because they are too focused in either their education or their jobs.
This is indeed true and Germans are actually very industrious people. Germany is a home to some of the most famous academic centers that Europe has such as University of Marburg, University of Berlin and Heidelberg University. It is well known for its history in philosophy and literature. That aside, Germany’s political culture is an interesting topic of study. It is interesting to note how this differs from the united State’s culture and why the German’s political participation is not as high as that of the United States. Culture Culture can be precisely defined as a people’s way of life.
Culture denotes the behavior, norms, values and rules that are accustomed to a certain group of community, population or class (Jeffery, 2000, 7). Culture acts as an identity through certain predominating characteristics such as language, religion, beliefs and other cultures such as art, literature, oral culture, musical culture and political culture among others (Jeffery, 2000, 12). This is the reason as why different countries and people exhibit different cultures. The German culture can be said to be one that highly embraces planning.
Germans have in many instances been labeled planning masters since they believe that planning personal and business life provides security (Smith, 2000, 33). A structured and ordered life is a characteristic of Germany where personal and professional lives are clearly divided with the principle that there is time for everything (Smith, 2000, 34. Communication is rather formal and the use of titles is very important unless you have been allowed by that person to use his or her first name. In business, more is emphasized on the business experience and academic credentials rather than the personal relationship.
Germans are more likely to spend their free time relaxing at home in pubs or enjoying their favorite hobbies (Smith, 2000: 34). Germany is well known for its literature, music, theatre and participation in sport. Approximately a quarter of Germany population (27 million people) are sports club members while another 12 million participate in sports on their own. Religion is diversified although Christianity is most dominant (Smith, 2000, 39). Just like in the U. S, there is no state church and the church is not in any way influenced by the government.
The United States culture can be said to be highly dynamic. Anderman (2006, 3)at one time declares the U. S as having no definite culture that they would call their own owed to the high number of foreign cultures that have influenced it. The American culture is actually a product of both domestic and foreign culture brought in through immigration and colonization in the early days. As opposed to Germany, communication and business relationships are slightly informal. English remains the most widely used language in the U. S accounting for 2/3 of the population.
America has a distinct culture in literature producing many literary works and so is the development in Music (Anderman, 2006, 16). Americans derive pleasure from holidaying and engaging in other fun activities during their free time. As opposed to Germans, they are not particularly obsessed with joining sport clubs even although sports in one of the most important cultures in the U. S. Base ball, soccer and ice hockey are the most famous sports (Anderman, 2006, 32). Their membership in other clubs is also quite evident. Christianity makes up for the highest religion in the U. S.
America is very patriotic and it is common to find the national anthem being played before the start of many events. The national flag is a symbol of one’s love for the country. This is why many will sport T-shirts, bags and caps with American flags in the U. S as compared to Germany where in most cases declaring love for the country is almost seen as incorrect (Boldt, 1995). In addition, celebration of important national days most of which are politically influenced is highly regarded for example Martin Luther King Day, Inauguration day, Independence day among others (Anderman, 2006, 45).
The political culture differs highly from the U. S culture. Democracy as applied in Germany is different from the U. S in that while the US uses majority system only, Germany uses proportional system in addition to the majority system (Boldt, 1995). This means that even as members of parliament are voted to the government, the number of seats that a particular party gets should be in proportion to the voters supporting the party. There is high party loyalty mostly due to the fact that parties are given more power by the German system and they are the ones that decide which candidates will run for parliamentary seats.
In Germany, parties get their finances from taxpayers depending on the distribution of votes, donations from businesses and member subscriptions. In U. S candidates are quite independent and raise their own campaign money (Boldt, 1995). The parliament gets to elect the Chancellor who is the leader of the government in Germany and could be equated to a Prime Minister in other countries. Since the Chancellor is supported by majority of the members of parliament, the decisions that he or she makes are generally supported by a majority in parliament (Boldt, 1995). This is as opposed to the U.
S where the president’s decisions may be challenged if not voted by 2/3 of the majority. Political Participation Political participation refers to the citizen’s tendency to take part in influencing public affairs and the government. It depicts the various ways in which citizens participate in events and activities that directly influence the political situation in a country. Such activities include voting, becoming a member of a political party, participating in demonstrations, gaining into non-governmental advocacy unions and groups and running as a candidate in an election.
Political participation in both Germany and in the Unites States can be said to be highly influenced by the culture of the two countries. In Germany for example, the citizens are very well informed but their interest in politics is not pronounced. It is common to find that most Germans participate in politics out of duty including voting and contribution of funds to parties through taxes. Most Germans actually participate in elections when they come due but are rarely involved in politics after that.
The reason that could be given to this kind of political attitude is the busy time structure that the Germans have. When they are not working they will prefer to relax and participate in games, music and theater rather than get involved in politics. Most view politics as dirty and from history, not many have really adopted loyalty or pride in their country. Their support for democracy actually relies on how the country does economically. In the U. S, democracy and the desire to influence the activities of the state drives many people to the polling stations to vote for their favorite candidates.
The Americans are more inclined to change and politicians who promise the best are likely to attract a huge crowd. Similarly, particular regulations set up by the government may trigger opposition or support which are normally characterized by demonstrations by lobby groups and human rights groups. This is completely different from Germany and which may be explained by the high level of patriotism that the U. S citizens have for their country. Conclusion Germany and the United States share the cultures of sports, music and literature.
What differs is the intensity with which each values these cultures. While Germany is more formal in its procedures and relationships, the situation in U. S is more informal. Further, German’s participation in politics is less evident as compared to the Americans. The busy schedules and lack of political interest is to blame for the low political participation in Germany. As indicated in the culture comparison, Germans are less patriotic and declare their love for their country in a more reserved way as opposed to Americans who are more obvious in their display of patriotism.
In conclusion, culture highly determines the political participation in a country. Word Count: 1441 References Anderman, Bill. 2006. American Culture and How It Has been Influenced by Multi-cultures. New York: Lulu printers. Boldt, Axel. 1995. A Subjective Comparison of Germany and the United States. Retrieved on May 13, 2009 fromhttp://math-www. uni-paderborn. de/~axel/us-d. html#democracy Jeffery, Smith. 2003. Culture. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Smith, Peterson. 2000. German Culture and Way of Life. London: SAGE.Sample Essay of Paperial.com