The Effect of Political Culture on Collaboration of Citizens with Local Government (A Case Study: Tehran)



Extended Abstract

Local government is considered as a political-bureaucratic structure, which is formed by the central government as a result of spatial distribution of the political power. As of forming the civilizations, a special type of society and culture has been formed in Iran due to a particular geographic position and getting involved in the path of the mankind movements as well. The political culture, which takes into account as presuppositions of the Iranian society, resulted in specific actions in the community especially in the political arena. Political participation of the citizens in the local government and influencing on the processes and mechanisms of the political culture considered as one of the consequents of such phenomenon. The present research aims to study the roots of citizens’ low participation in a local level, as the citizens have not participated in the local government in a meaningful manner since the formation of the local government in Iran. In this research, thus, we are looking for answering this question: “what is the effect of political culture on citizens’ collaboration in the local government is in Tehran?”The hypothesis of research includes: taking part in Tehran local government is affected by the impact of political culture in a national level, which some factors play a significant role in this regard such as: family, beliefs, symbols, values, dominant structure, tribal roots, and historical, geographical, social, and cultural developments. The results confirmed the claim regarding the study of political culture variables in a political participation in Tehran city. The present research investigated the relations between the political culture and citizens’ cooperation in the local government as a mechanism for participation of the citizens in the political-social destiny through descriptive method using documented resources.
The design of the present is descriptive. It aims at investigating the topic’s nature the effect of political culture on collaboration of the citizens in the local government. In one hand, the goal of this research is to investigate the current condition of the research’s topic and its characteristics as well as to study the relations among the variables. On the other hand, this study is certainly considered as a descriptive-analytic research as the researcher attempted to interpret the reasons for the issue’s condition and its aspects.

Results and Discussion
The effect of political culture on the citizens’ engagement in local administration of Tehran
1. Family structure and political culture: locating the individual in a complex world, the family shapes the individual’s future political stance by establishing a tribal, linguistic, and religious nexus and by emphasis on social class, reiteration of values and cultural-educational gains and orientation of professional-economic perspectives.
2. Tribal structure and political culture: history is the rise and fall of tribes. The potential and actual capacity of the Iranian tribes caused the local power to be in their hands. They have even had a major part in the central governments.
3. Authoritative political structure and political culture: authoritative political structures throughout Iranian history have deeply affected the way the citizens politically behave. The outcome of such a structure has been such behaviors as submissiveness, being overawed by political power, low engagement, and many other non-engagement inclinations.
4. Religious class and political engagement: cultural concepts and mechanisms in the Iranian society are fed by religious beliefs, and a major part of bias and clash is based on the citizens’ religious beliefs. On the other hand, the existence of religious rule has cherished a religious political culture that rests upon power.
5. Political developments and political culture: what people have been experiencing and what they feel and the conformity between feeling and experience on the one hand, and the political symbols and institutions on the other, forms and maintains the political culture, and as soon as the bases of this conformity are weakened or people begin to feel that they are diverging, the political culture changes.
6. The political culture rooted in gender difference: women feel more at ease with educational and voluntary social affairs, especially participation in religious groups; they show less enthusiasm for political engagement while they are inclined toward social and local issues.
7. The political culture as to media effect: media in Iran are generally state-owned. Therefore, the government can propagate its desired values, leading to the formation of a media political culture in Iran; this media political culture can play a role in the citizens’ engagement in the political affairs.

8. Socio-economic class and formation of specific political culture: individual differences in such variables as job status, income, and education act as a factor that defines political engagement. Political engagement and different forms of it as political behavior can emanate from different beliefs and values.
9. National political culture vs. local political culture: the reflection of national political culture in Iran on the local level (in Tehran) can be viewed in participation level of the citizens in sub-councils. Sub-councils are local institutions who are responsible to help with some affairs of the local councils of the city.

The most tangible form of the citizens’ engagement in relation to their immediate environment is possible through participation in local administration. As far as engagement and decision-making of the citizens in local affairs is concerned, local institutions in Iran lack a historical record. This mechanism was represented in the constitution as a novel phenomenon after the constitutional revolution; yet it was never actualized. This dormancy continued to the end of 1370s.
Since Tehran, as the capital of Iran, bears a centripetal force for the Iranian groups and citizens, its local political culture is in fact a distillation of national political culture. To verify this claim the sub-council elections of Tehran was represented as the national-level participation. The polls of sub-councils in Tehran indicate a low participation of the citizens in local affairs.