|Theory of Culture|
source ref: ebookcul.htm
|Part II:Culture, Collectiv purpose, And Polity|
Whenever a group of sociologists meets to discuss culture , it becomes quickly apparent that there is (still) no agreement on the meaning of this core term of sociological analysis. At one time or another, myths, values, eating and dressing habits, scientific theories, social norms, novels, and situational definitions have all been treated as elements of culture. Keesing's challenge "to narrow the concept of 'culture' so that it includes less and reveals more" (Keesing 1974) is still being met in different ways by different schools of thinking.
One important step in the direction of terminological specification has been the analytical distinction between social system and cultural system that has become a hallmark of the Parsonian tradition of thinking. When Kroeber and Parsons advocated this distinction, they did so in contrast to a view prevalent among cultural anthropologists that regards societies as sociocultural systems in which social and cultural elements are inextricably intertwined, forming one integrated whole (Kroeber & Parsons 1958). The analytical distinction between culture and social system (or social structure) excludes observable behavior patterns from the concept and characterizes culture as an idea system. Such systems, however, can still be conceptualized and circumscribed in different ways, for instance, with respect to the emphasis placed on the ideas in people's heads or on collective representations such as myths or doctrines or with respect to the (relative or even exclusive) emphasis on symbolic, cognitive/interpretive, or evaluative elements. As Michael Schmid points out in chapter 4, Parsons himself was inconsistent in this and has emphasized different elements on different occasions. Regardless of these unresolved conceptual issues, the Parsonian distinction between cultural and social systems has the advantage of directing attention to the relationship between them. Two sets of questions are thus raised, one referring to the causal linkage between both systems, the other to the delimitation of the social basis (or scope) of a culture.
Both issues are familiar. With respect to the first, Marxist orthodoxy assumes that the ideational superstructure is determined by the socioeconomic basis; Parsons in contrast ascribes a regulative function to the cultural system (Parsons 1951). If one wants to avoid both materialist and idealist determinism by assuming the relationship between culture and social structure to be one of mutual influence rather than of one-sided dependence, it becomes an empirical challenge to trace the shaping influence of situational (structural, institutional) constraints upon cultural elements.
The major issue in debates over the scope of cultural systems is whether and to what extent subsystems of society possess a culture of their own. One answer has been that cultural differentiation is a correlate of social differentiation, and that it is hence meaningful to speak, for instance, of different regional, ethnic, class, and professional cultures within a given society. But where the integrative function of culture is stressed, social subsystems have instead been viewed as societies en miniature and attempts have been made to identify the manifestations of the encompassing cultural system of the society at large in the smaller unit. This has been true for local communities as well as for organizations (for example, Arensberg 1954; Lammers & Hickson 1979). Of course these views are not mutually exclusive. Subcultures may well have specific or even unique traits and manifest a wider societal culture at the same time.
In the sociology of organizations, both of these analytical routes have been pursued. Efforts have been made to identify how different national cultures affect the structure and functioning of organizations (Hofstede 1981) and, likewise, to prove the existence, and explain the genesis, of an endogenous "organizational culture" that is specific to individual organizations (Allaire & Firsirotu 1984; Ouchi & Wilkins 1985). In this literature it is assumed that organizational cultures develop in the course of an organization's history and are heavily influenced by its leaders and particularly by the experience of successful mastery of an important challenge. It is also interesting to note that myths, legends, and shared cognitive maps are emphasized much more than evaluative and especially normative elements-occasionally to the virtual exclusion of social norms from the concept of organizational culture (for example, Smircich 1983). This tendency is probably related to the critical function served by the concept of organizational culture in the context of a research tradition that has long focused on aspects of structure and their normative underpinnings in the form of rules and regulations.
Empirical studies of organizational culture have mostly dealt with industrial firms or business corporations, but the same questions can obviously be asked about any other organized social group, including political institutions such as legislatures. In fact, scientific interest in "political culture" is fairly widespread. True, most studies of political culture are concerned with orientations of the population at large (for example, Almond & Verba 1965); here politicians enter the picture only as objects of popular orientations. But there is growing interest also in the specific values and beliefs of policymakers impinging upon policy formulation (Sturm 1985; Feick & Jann 1988). In much of this particular literature, elements of political culture are inferred from the observed characteristics of specific policy decisions. Where the orientations of policymakers-politicians and higher civil servants-have been investigated directly, it has mostly been done in the form of attitude and opinion surveys of categories of social actors (for example, Aberbach et al. 1981) rather than in studies of institutional subcultures. Exceptions are occasional analyses of informal social norms in legislative bodies (for example, Crowe 1983; Kornberg 1964; Loewenberg & Mans 1988; Matthews 1960).
The research on which the following discussion is based belongs to the small group of studies of parliamentary cultures. Though the German Federal Parliament has never before been studied, the research did not aim at comparison with other legislatures but pursued a set of more theoretically oriented questions about the existence and nature of a parliamentary subculture, which will be examined in the following section.
The most general question to be raised about parliamentary cultures concerns the possibility of their empirical existence. Legisla of the question about the relationship of subcultural norms to observable behavioral practice. Structural functionalism, or more generally theorists following the normative paradigm, tends to emphasize the guiding effect of shared beliefs and social norms on behavior, whereas the influence of situational constraints tends to be played down and even neglected. In contrast, actor-oriented approaches often insist that the opportunity structure of action situations is decisive for the choice of behavioral alternatives (for example, Crozier & Friedberg 1977) and the elements of culture serve mainly a legitimating, rather than a guiding, function.
tures are problem-solving and decision-producing organizations with a high degree of institutionalized, internal conflict and a high turnover rate of their members. According to Wilkins and Ouchi (1983), the growth of an organizational culture is encouraged by a long history and stable membership, frequent interaction among members, and the absence of exposure to contradictory sets of expectations. That none of these conditions are met in the case of the German Bundestag might impede the emergence of an institutional subculture. Also, the extreme competitiveness of the milieu might militate against the development of shared values and meanings. On the other hand it could be argued that the very instability and tension-ridden nature of the setting should increase the need for shared beliefs and social norms that regulate the behavior and mutual relations of deputies. Similarly, the role characteristics of deputies might engender the need for strong in-group ties to balance status insecurity and role stress (Mester-Grun 1979:10). In view of such countervailing tendencies (or at least contrasting hypotheses), the existence-and substantive content-of a parliamentary subculture, beyond the formal rules guiding the behavior of deputies and the cognitive and evaluative orientations they might share by virtue of their social origin and general political socialization, is an interesting empirical question, and one that has not yet found a conclusive answer. Thus Wahlke and others (1962) found a relatively low degree of consensus among state legislators in the United States with respect to the forty-two subjectively held norms they identified. On the other hand, "research on non-American legislatures has frequently discovered that the party loyalty of legislators is structured by clear norms of a sort rarely found in the United States" (Loewenberg & Mans 1988:157).
The empirical investigation that I conducted with a colleague (see Mayntz & Neidhardt 1989) aimed, therefore, first of all to identify informal social norms in the behavior of deputies of the German Bundestag. In doing so, we intended to use any empirical evidence of shared or divergent normative beliefs not only to measure group consensus or dissensus but also to inquire more deeply into the character of the normative system thus emerging: the substantive reference points of norms, their formal characteristics, and so on.
A second major question involved the forces shaping the parliamentary culture we might find. This question has many aspects, for example, the extent to which subcultural norms are an outgrowth of more general cultural standards or are unique to the institution investigated and the extent to which subcultural norms reflect individual needs rather than social (functional) imperatives. While remaining sensitive to these issues, we were mainly interested in yet another aspect of the same general question: the relationship of such informal norms as we might find to the specific institutional setting of the German Federal Parliament. Finally, we hoped that even though our data referred directly only to perceptions and beliefs, it might be possible to interpret them in light
e questions may sound ambitious, the study itself was small and exploratory. The data base consisted of thirty intensive interviews with a stratified sample of deputies and written sources such as biographical material and newspaper articles. Our analytical categories highlighted selected aspects of group structure and culture, while we were less interested in the process of legislative decision making. As for the parliamentary culture, we emphasized norms over shared cognitive maps of deputies and focused on intrainstitutional behavior and relations. In contrast, we did not attempt to delve into substantive policy orientations and political ideologies, questions about legitimating beliefs (for example, representation versus trusteeship), and norms relating to constituents, the party organization, the bureaucracy, and organized interests. Such a selective approach can uncover only a relatively small segment of an institutional subculture. This holds particularly for all taken-for-granted elements of shared interpretive frames, such as those that ethnographers and ethnomethodologists might find through observation. The strong, though not exclusive, emphasis on normative beliefs also precluded any attempt to approach the (often neglected) issue of the internal structure of cultural systems.
With 520 members who, when it is in session, are expected to be present and even together in one room during plenary meetings, the German Federal Parliament is a very large face-to-face group. Internally, this group is segmented along political party lines, as the German Bundestag is formally organized into parliamentary party groups (Fraktionen ). These party groups have not only an elected leadership (Fraktionsvorstand ) who controls the parliamentary activities of deputies, assigns tasks, distributes resources, and tries to ensure party discipline, but also an elaborate system of permanent committees that meet regularly to prepare for the work in the corresponding parliamentary committees. The Bundestag is known to be more a "working" than a "debating" parliament. Of course there are debates (nearly 610 hours of debate during the 139 plenary meetings of the eighth legislative period), but relatively few parliamentary decisions depend on them.
A number of formal rules regulate the status of deputies: some paragraphs of the constitution, the election law, a section in the general procedural rules of parliament, and the Abgeordnetengesetz of 1977. In substantive content, these rules refer to the nature of representation (deputies represent the electorate at large and are not bound by imperative mandates), indemnity and immunity, financial matters (salary, pension rights, other benefits), and permitted or prohibited economic activities, additional gainful employment, contractual relations, and so on. The purpose of most of these formal rules is to safeguard the independence of the deputies in their legislative engagement. The "allowances" (Diä´¥n ) of federal deputies are today a-relatively high-salary, their activities being legally considered a full-time profession (or job).
Though extensively, if quite selectively, regulated, the general status of a deputy is much less salient for the individual than is membership in one of the Fraktionen . Deputies hardly perceive a "deputy role" separate from their role as "deputy of party X," and the assembly as a whole is an arena rather than an integrated social group. Plenary meetings and even the equally frequent meetings of parliamentary committees are carefully prepared encounters of groups; only committees may over time achieve a certain amount of social integration across party lines, a process supported by their relatively small size and low membership turnover, and by official travel of the whole committee or of delegations. For most deputies, the parliamentary committee is in fact the most important arena of participation in the legislative process; it is the main locus of meaningful activity and of productive work.
Outside plenary and parliamentary committee meetings, the deputies of different party groups do not interact much. There exist inter-parliamentary associations (German-British, German-American, and so on) to which deputies of different parties belong, the Parliamentary Society, a kind of club where deputies can meet informally, some bars that, though mainly frequented by members of one specific party, also serve as informal meeting places across party lines, and receptions at embassies and similar occasions, but most of these have at best a tenuous group character and do not constitute an arena for serious debate and concerted action.
The parliamentary group is the deputy's most important reference group in Bonn. Its own social integration, however, is impeded by ideological diversity (the different intraparty currents) and, above all, by strong internal rivalry. Such rivalry results from competition for membership in important committees, for elective offices, for speaking time in plenary debates, and for a number of important resources and material rewards that the leadership of the parliamentary party group can distribute; above all, there is competition for publicity, for chances to increase one's visibility to all those on whose support the deputy's political career (or at least reelection) depends. As competition both contributes to and is reinforced by ideological differences (or differences of views on specific policy issues), in-group conflict tends to be self-reinforcing. At the same time, of course, party opposition generates a strong pressure for intraparty solidarity. It is the resulting coincidence of and permanent tension between strong forces making for group solidarity and equally strong competitive impulses that characterize the parliamentary party group. A spirit of conflict pervades the parliamentary arena and makes task-oriented cooperation in the fulfillment of legislative functions, that is, problem solving rather than confrontation, difficult.
The imperative of securing reelection as a necessary prerequisite of any further "success" is probably the most important situational constraint for deputies, though its absolute weight differs among individuals. Deputies with a personally satisfying alternative-such as a profession or job, a family to raise-are obviously less subject to the pressures of this imperative, but these deputies tend to become increasingly a minority given the ascendance of the professional (career) politician who lives not only for, but first and foremost off, politics. The reelection imperative implies dependence relations, which differ according to the primarily local or primarily national orientation of deputies. For deputies who have a "safe" district and/or are genuine district candidates firmly rooted in the local party organization, a different kind of performance spells success than for deputies who owe their reelection to the national (or regional) party organization. The parliamentary arena thus has a different significance for them, which will influence their social identification with the Bundestag and their sensitivity to the rewards and punishments distributed there. For most deputies, incidentally, the parliament in Bonn and their local constituency are both salient reference points, and the weekly travel between these two different worlds seriously strains the chances of social integration in Bonn.
We can now turn to the informal social norms operative in this institutional setting. Informal expectations may relate to different aspects of the deputy role. It seems useful to distinguish three major categories: norms relating to group membership, norms relating to interpersonal relations, and norms relating to task performance.
Beginning with the first kind of informal expectations, we may ask what is expected of the deputy as a member of the Bundestag, irrespective of party group membership, office, sex, and age. Are deputies expected to comply, to preserve the legitimacy of their elevated political status, with normative expectations of exemplary behavior in such areas as sexual relations, alcohol consumption, and financial comportment? It may be surprising to Americans that this is not the case. More precisely, there is no normative expectation among deputies that they should conform to middle-class norms of sexual behavior and alcohol consumption, and there is no readiness to criticize, much less to sanction, infringement of such norms by colleagues. The only norm that does exist, and that is felt strongly and violated rarely, is that the infringement of such middle-class norms should not be made public. This means both that deputies must take care not to be publicly observed in irregular behavior, as it may harm the public image of their party, and that such "private sins" are not to be used as instruments in the political struggle, a norm that covers members of the parliamentary opposition as well as those of one's own party. Remarkably, the norm to keep silent about the private sins of politicians is also shared by journalists, and for them to deviate from this norm means to renounce the claim to privileged professional status.
The situation is somewhat different with respect to irregular financial behavior. While debt is a private sin and is treated as such, using the political office for personal enrichment is not. One purpose of formal rules is to prevent such abuse. But because deputies legally enjoy a number of material privileges and have legal opportunities for economic gain, there exists a "gray zone" where formal rules are not sufficient to distinguish the permissible from the unacceptable. It is in this zone that informal social norms might be looked to for guidance. To get at the corresponding normative expectations, we discussed some well-known cases of financial misdemeanor with our respondents. The degree of consensus in judgment that we found was high-surprisingly high given that our respondents were unable to formulate in positive terms specific injunctions regarding the financial behavior of deputies.
One case concerned a high-ranking member of the Christian Democrats, a former minister and president of the federal parliament (a prestigious formal position without much political power), who had to step down from this office under pressure from his own party when a lucrative contract he had negotiated with a legal firm became publicly known. Since, in terms of existing legal norms, Rainer Barzel, himself a lawyer by training, had done nothing wrong, he must have violated an important informal norm to be sanctioned so severely-unless, of course, the incident was used as an excuse to get rid of an incumbent. In fact, considerations of this kind may have been a reinforcing condition, but the vast majority of our respondents agreed that Barzel's behavior in this particular matter had been decidedly objectionable. To draw financial or generally economic advantage from one's political position-one's prestige, public visibility, acquired expertise, and personal relations-is acceptable up to a certain point, but it constitutes a norm violation when a threshold is passed. The problem is to define this threshold. Apparently, it cannot be formulated generally but must be established case by case by a complex reckoning of several factors. It was felt that Barzel had obtained a high additional income out of proportion to the service actually rendered, that is, an unjust advantage in exchange terms, cashing in on his political prestige alone. Worse, he himself had been inclined to moralize, that is, a discrepancy was felt to exist between his own behavior and the normative standards he publicly espoused; apparently the cutoff point between acceptable and unacceptable behavior varies with the level of moral aspiration of the actor. Yet another circumstance further aggravated his case: he had violated expectations of the proper relationship of a deputy to the party group leaders by not having informed them of this contract when he had asked for their help in a situation of economic insecurity.
While in this particular case legally correct behavior constituted deviance from informal social norms, the reverse is also possible. A second case we discussed with our respondents concerned a widely diffused, but legally dubious, fund-raising practice for political parties that became a scandal when attention was publicly drawn to it while its post-hoc legalization was sought-unsuccessfully. Eventually even some high-ranking politicians had to appear in court. Although this practice was recognized as illegal, most deputies (except for a few reacting with strong moral convictions) agreed that no social norm had been violated. Almost everyone thought that practice acceptable, possibly because it was in the interest of the party organization and not in the economic interest of individual politicians.
Although little evidence exists of informal norms referring to "private" aspects of a deputy's behavior, recognized rules exist with respect to the more political aspects of a deputy's role. There are, of course, many formal rules of procedure instructing deputies how to behave in debates, at question time, when taking votes, and so on. These formal norms are hardly controversial and, apparently, there are no strong forces that make for deviance. However, these norms give only the answers to easy how-to questions. The entry of the Green party into the federal parliament and the general irritation caused by the unorthodox behavior of Green deputies provided a good opportunity to discover the more implicit normative expectations of the parliamentary culture. The perception that the Greens violate implicit norms is widely shared among deputies, including the Greens themselves. The Greens' widely publicized, unorthodox way of dressing (tennis shoes, jeans, and never a tie), bringing of flowers and knitting to parliament, and generally informal behavior were considered to be relatively unimportant deviations per se, but they were sometimes resented because they made the well-behaved majority look like Philistines. They also provoked fierce objections when it was feared that by making the parliament as a whole look ridiculous, the Greens would seriously damage its image-the "dignity of the house" (Wurde des Hauses )-which in fact needs visible demonstration to a skeptical electorate. The most severely judged norm infringements of the Greens, however, refer to the rules on which the parliamentary system as such is based, for example, readiness to abide by majority decisions, acceptance of the state's legitimate monopoly on the use of force, and tolerance for minority views. In addition, we found resentment of the moralizing stance of the Greens, who keep voicing obvious, but unattainable, ideals as if they alone believe in them. This resentment reflects an implicit expectation of realism or pragmatism, a widespread view that politics is the art of the possible, and that dream dancers make poor deputies. A related matter is the criticism that the Greens claim credit for initiatives and popular positions that they were not the first to support, thus stealing the show from other party groups. Understandably, this criticism was felt most strongly by Social Democrats, who are in ideological proximity to certain Green positions.
Norms related to group membership concern the correct behavior of a member as member. The most prominent of these norms, while shared at the level of the parliament, refer not to parliament as a whole-that is, the deputy's role as such-but to the parliamentary party group. Normative expectations with respect to the deputy-party group relationship specify a general norm of group solidarity or, more precisely, the expectation that the deputy should support his or her party in the struggle with the parliamentary opposition. Formulated negatively, this means avoiding behavior harmful to one's party, a norm that is even explicitly stated in party constitutions and serves as a basis for the formal procedure of ousting a member. Of course this general maxim needs to be specified, and in fact there is relatively high consensus on the types of behavior that help or harm a party group. One important expectation is support for the party group's position on legislative issues, both when voting in a plenary meeting and when talking to the press or to constituents. It is also considered harmful-and therefore to be avoided-to make pronouncements about issues on which the party has not yet established its position, because doing so might restrict its room for action.
The motives to deviate from these norms are strong because they restrict the deputy's maneuvering space in the public assertion of his or her individuality-personal judgment, values, engagement for certain causes, and so on-and hence in the pursuit of a career. The strong informal expectation to vote with one's party group (Fraktionsdisziplin ) even stands in contrast to the constitutional norm of independence of the deputy who is formally only bound by conscience (and existing laws). This strong tension between the (uncontested) need for group solidarity and personal career interests apparently can temper normative standards by including in the formulation of norms the conditions under which they definitely ought to be respected or the acceptable forms of deviating from them if such pressure becomes very strong. For instance, not to vote with one's party group is particularly objectionable when the margin of majority is small and/or the issue attracts much publicity and when the deputy has not informed the party group's leadership beforehand of his or her intention to defect. Similarly, taking a personal stand becomes increasingly acceptable as the centrality of the issue to basic party values decreases. On the other hand, defection is particularly objectionable if the party group's official position has been reached with difficulty, and represents a compromise with party ideals. To behave as an ideological purist in such a case means trying to win personal acclaim at the expense of one's party; it is this behavior that constitutes the offense.
Another interesting feature of the norms of party group solidarity is that they often refer specifically to representational aspects, that is, the public, or front stage, part of behavior. If intragroup dissension cannot be avoided, as it obviously cannot, it is important at least to demonstrate unity in the face of the opposition. Thus, deputies should not inform outsiders about dissension within the party group. There is also an informal rule that one should avoid receiving applause from the opposition benches in plenary meetings. Although this contributes to the highly polemical character of parliamentary debates, it demonstratively affirms group integration and group membership.
In the relationship between deputies of the same political party, fair-play norms restricting intragroup rivalry are prominent. One shared and fairly straightforward expectation is respect for the legitimate substantive (or policy) domain of party colleagues. Several deputies reported instances where they themselves had-often unwittingly-invaded another's domain, such as a public statement on some matter, and where this had brought forth not only criticism but also stronger sanctions. A second important expectation is that deputies should not monopolize opportunities for positive self-presentation or seek publicity at the expense of colleagues; however, they should help junior or lower ranking colleagues in their quests for positive public images, for example, in their constituencies, when it can be done at little personal cost. This expectation highlights again the focal importance of the public dimension of political action. In contrast, attempts to obtain a bigger share of the common pool of material rewards (office space, assistance, attractive invitations, and so on) were rarely mentioned as objectionable.
The norm restricting attempts to increase one's public visibility was repeatedly formulated in another version, not as a proscription to monopolize scarce opportunities but as an injunction not to overdo the search for publicity and a positive public image. This variant of the norm is interesting insofar as it is again a "threshold norm" where the cutoff point needs to be defined-and can obviously only be defined with respect to specific cases and situations. Such a norm seems to reflect the strong forces that make conformity difficult, as with the norms of group solidarity, because what is at issue is a basic condition of individual career success.
Though what one might call "solidarity norms" clearly predominate with respect to intragroup behavior, there is also evidence of some other normative expectations, notably with respect to deference. Obviously, the prerogatives of the elected party group leadership and the committee chairs should be respected, but this is a formal, rather than an informal, norm. However, deference from newcomers toward their elders is also expected. While they are still new to the job, deputies should avoid attempts to occupy center stage, to claim superior competence in some area, or to compete for highly valued assignments. "Lie low, learn, and build up a reputation of competence and trustworthiness" is how one might summarize the advice experienced deputies would give a newcomer wanting to "make it" in Bonn. But the fact that deference rules were mentioned in the context of an "advice to newcomers" question, rather than in the informal rules one should observe to avoid censure by colleagues, indicates that they are norms with a relatively low moral intensity. To violate deference rules is a strategic mistake rather than a misdemeanor met with moral indignation.
Although strong expectations restrain intraparty rivalry and conflict, we have found surprisingly little evidence of informal norms restricting conflict between majority and opposition parties and securing their cooperation in the legislative process. Thus no informal norm restricting polemics in plenary debates seems to exist. Parliamentary polemics arise from a combination of individual motives and situational features that make for an intensely antagonistic style of verbal exchange between deputies of the governing and the opposition parties, such as is rarely found in normal professional life. Insults can be sanctioned by formal reprimand, the reprimand even being entered into the official record. But even when the formal rule is applied, it does not carry informal censure with it, although many, perhaps a majority, of deputies find these polemics at times painful and know that the electorate following them on radio or television consider them offensive. Discussions in the parliamentary committees are mostly much less polemical, though here, too, the style of interaction seems to be more often confrontational than cooperative. The lower level of expressed antagonism between deputies of different parties in committee is hardly the result of a strongly felt norm of intergroup solidarity. For one thing, some of the situational factors inducing polemics in plenary debates, such as the presence of the mass media (especially television), are absent in committee meetings. More important, the parliamentary committees are task-oriented groups, which means that in committee meetings the logic of task-related cooperation suffuses the logic of political opposition. Not surprisingly, therefore, we were told repeatedly of instances of tacit cooperation and informal premeeting contacts across party lines. But such cooperation does not seem to follow specific normative expectations to this effect; rather, it is guided by strategic considerations and a very general do ut des norm, that is, the rationality of fair exchange.
This inquiry into the institutional subculture of the German Federal Parliament has, first of all, confirmed the existence of subcultural norms. Behavioral expectations, which the deputies themselves designated as "informal rules of the game," are widely shared. While the formulations often differed, there was a high degree of substantive consensus about such rules, irrespective of the age, sex, rank, length of experience, and political affiliation of deputies. This finding has a high validity: since no checklist of normative statements was used, deputies produced what actually came to mind when we discussed specific instances or asked what might discredit deputies in the eyes of their colleagues.
Second, the informal behavioral norms identified by this study are evidently related to the group structure of the German parliament. The most highly emphasized norms have the parliamentary party group as a reference point or refer to relations among its members. This dominance of solidarity norms referring to the parliamentary party group reflects both the high subjective salience of party group membership for the individual deputy and the much higher interaction density within, rather than between, party groups-two factors that derive from the specific institutional context. In contrast, there is strikingly less emphasis on solidarity among deputies of different parties and in parliament as a whole. The result is a clear differentiation between "in-group" and "out-group" directed behavior: acts proscribed within the party group are permitted against (deputies of) currently opposing party groups.
Of course, that does not imply that parliament as a whole lacks cultural integration. A number of the expectations we found are in fact attached to the role of deputy in general, for example, the expectation to overlook private sins and the normative beliefs articulated in analyzing the irritation caused by the Greens. It is quite likely that, in addition, deputies of all political parties share basic political values, which were not explicitly addressed in the interviews. But ideological and social integration evidently do not go together-at least in the German Bundestag.
What is striking about the most prominent of the behavioral expectations we found is not only their social reference point but also their specific content. The normative expectations of which deputies are particularly conscious are the rules restricting intragroup competition and the uninhibited pursuit of individual career goals. They thus constitute a kind of "social contract" that inhibits the disintegrative forces of personal rivalry and allows the party group to confront opposition from other parties. In contrast, performance-related norms, if they exist at all, seem to possess such a low priority that they did not surface when we discussed with our respondents at length the kinds of behavior that discredit or enhance a deputy in the eyes of other deputies. Even though no attempt was made in this study to discover all subcultural norms referring to different activities, relations, and so on, the substantive selectiveness of the norms we did find is in all likelihood not a methodological artifact. In fact, this finding of a selective emphasis on group-related norms is corroborated by a conclusion that Loewenberg and Mans (1988:157-158) draw from existing research, which has "demonstrated the existence of norms governing the personal relationships of legislators to each other, but showed fewer traces of norms to promote the transaction of legislative business." Of course lack of prominence does not mean nonexistence. There is, for instance, occasional reference to the norm of reciprocity, which is applied not only to career-related favors but also to task-related interactions among deputies, even across party lines. In general, however, it seems that legislative performance, the task fulfillment of deputies, is structured more by shared cognitive orientations, including knowledge about strategies, than by social norms.
There is, for instance, virtual unanimity among deputies in their perception of the strategic prerequisites of success in promoting policy initiatives. Deputies share the view that success is here a matter of collective effort, so that coalition formation and consensus building are generally and explicitly recognized as the preeminent conditions of securing desired policy decisions. Another generally perceived prerequisite of the successful promotion of an issue is the possession of widely acknowledged expertise on the matter. Expertise thus has an instrumental value for the deputy. In fact, to acquire expertise in a field that is both substantively promising and not yet overcrowded is advice that deputies would consensually give to a newcomer wanting to know the secret of success.
An important formal characteristic of the subcultural norms we found is a lack of specificity. Most accepted and easily reproducible "rules of the game" were phrased in general terms rather than in casuistic detail, that is, as specific descriptions of proscribed or desired behavior, in spite of the fact that the formulation of our questions not only permitted but indeed stimulated the mention of specific injunctions. That norm specificity tends to decrease with increasing status is generally accepted in role theory. However, low specificity may also be a characteristic of normative expectations that refer to membership roles rather than to task roles (positions in a functionally differentiated system). Of course, general maxims such as "Do not damage the public image of your party group" or "Do not exaggerate in seeking public visibility" provide no clear instructions for behavior in actual situations-and yet they apparently permit the widely shared evaluation of specific instances. They do so because the general maxim is fleshed out with more specific conditions of its applicability, turning it into conditional prescriptions or proscriptions. The transformation rule that turns a general maxim into specific injunctions takes the form of a statement of relaxing or intensifying conditions (that is, "the norm is applicable unless . . ." or "definitely applicable if . . ."), which means there is a threshold beyond which a tolerated behavior becomes objectionable. Thus normative expectations assume the character of a more or less complex evaluative algorithm, which may even involve difficult causal judgments concerning the fulfillment of a limiting condition (for example, whether a specific action will harm the party). In this way, it also becomes possible to apply the norm to different arenas, different types of interaction partners, and so on because specific situational features can be accommodated among the set of applicability conditions. But because it is difficult to establish exact cutoff points and to balance mitigating and exacerbating conditions objectively, conditional norms of the kind described permit negotiations about the fulfillment of the applicability conditions or the location of the threshold. As a form of social discourse, these negotiations must obviously take place post hoc, that is, when a decision has to be made on whether a given instance violates a norm, but as a form of inner monologue negotiation may also precede action. In any case, when the applicability of an injunction is negotiable, it makes for both flexible behavior and flexible norms.
Most of the behavioral maxims of the parliamentary subculture seem to be avoidance rules (or proscriptions) rather than prescriptions. They serve mainly to curb spontaneous behaviors, rather than to incite action. Behavior in the parliamentary situation is motivated, not by internalized norms, but by individual drives, personal interests, and possibly values on the one hand and by the incentives implied in the institutional context-the opportunity structure-on the other hand. The majority of the deputies we interviewed appeared to be motivated primarily by individual political success, which can mean both the achievement of a position and/or the shaping of policy, where "leaving a trace" is important per se and the specific area in which that occurs may be of secondary importance. This generalized power motivation, which corresponds well with the notion of a specific kind of political rationality that aims at power as an end in itself, is a likely outcome of self-selective tendencies to become a politician, of the lessons learned while climbing the career ladder, and of the institutional setting characteristic of parliamentary democracies with multiparty systems.
If the behavioral norms of which deputies are most conscious serve to control and restrain behavior rather than to motivate it positively, then they present a view that contrasts sharply with the "oversocialized conception of man" implied in much of role theory (Wrong 1961), in which internalized norms are regarded as the driving force of social action. The basically restrictive character of informal behavioral norms in the Bundestag is underscored by the observation that even very strongly felt injunctions are continuously violated in the everyday interactions among deputies, which does not seem to detract from their validity as indicated by the fact that such violations continue to be sanctioned. The permanent tension between strong personal motives and strong restrictive norms, together with the uncertainty about the exact dividing line between the permissible and the impermissible, turn everyday parliamentary behavior into a "tightrope walk," as one respondent expressed the feeling shared by many.
However, a word of caution should again be added. This study has been able to uncover only those elements of a common culture of deputies of which our respondents were fairly conscious. It is plausible that norms that conflict with personal interests and spontaneous inclinations and that are noticeably sanctioned are registered more consciously than, for instance, basic interpretive schemes, worldviews, and values, which become part of one's own motivational structure. The only legitimate conclusion is that the easily reproducible norms that are part of the parliamentary subculture tend to be restrictive in nature; the same cannot be said of this subculture as a whole.
The focus of this study has been the nature, rather than the genesis and functions, of subcultural norms. Nevertheless, we briefly address the two latter issues. At the beginning the general question of the link between a subculture and the encompassing culture of the society at large was raised. The empirical case reviewed here has shown evidence both of a close linkage and of specific subcultural traits. In many cases, subcultural norms appear to be situationally specific variations on a common cultural theme; examples were the expectation of reciprocity (mutual help) and the norms of group solidarity. We also found evidence of more specifically national cultural traits. Thus the rather strict separation between "private sins" that are irrelevant and not to be sanctioned in the parliamentary arena and deviations from standards considered binding for parliamentarians may well reflect a cultural tradition of separation between the private and the public spheres, which has no counterpart in the United States. In contrast, the extremely high sensitivity to the public visibility of behavior is an arena-specific aspect of the parliamentary subculture. In the case of private sins, public visibility itself constitutes the norm violation; in cases of deviance from subcultural norms, it is an aggravating circumstance; and in the case of the expectation of a demonstrative in-group/out-group difference in behavior (in public one must applaud deputies of one's party and criticize or denigrate deputies of the opposition party), visibility even becomes the basis of a behavioral norm. In all these cases, the arena-specific elements of subcultural norms are clearly shaped by the institutional context, for example, the reelection imperative and the related need to present a favorable image to the electorate.
This last observation immediately raises the issue of functionality. In the Parsonian tradition of thinking, the cultural system fulfills essential integrative and adaptive functions by controlling and coordinating social action (Parsons 1951:26-45). As is also evident in other contributions to this volume, the assumption of a general cultural functionality has often been challenged-without therefore denying the directive effects of culture on human behavior. In studies of organizational culture, there is likewise no general assumption of functionality: organizational cultures can also obstruct change and the necessary adaptation to new situations (for example, Bate 1984). In light of the empirical evidence presented here, it does appear that the subcultural norms reflect the needs of political survival and political success in the given institutional context. But these are power-related needs of individuals and social groups, which may conflict with the prerequisites of an optimal fulfillment of legislative functions. In this respect, we have seen that norms that would contribute to such task performance are absent or possess a low priority; this holds both for performance-related norms and for norms ensuring cooperation in legislative work across party lines. Some of the strong norms we found, on the other hand, can be dysfunctional in this regard. This is true, for instance, of the norm of demonstrative antagonism to the out-group which can result in obstruction of legislative procedures for the sake of obstruction alone rather than for substantive reasons. Though the available evidence does not definitely show whether the high level of individual competition and the normatively supported antagonism between party groups negatively affects the inherent quality of legislative performance, such as the timeliness, innovativeness, and problem-solving capacity of policy decisions, this study does raise some doubt on the functionality of the parliamentary subculture for effective legislation. This implies that subcultural norms might generally respond more to the imperatives of system maintenance than to those of system performance.
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