The idea that the political orientations, beliefs and values prevailing among a population constitute a crucial determinant of the type of political system by which that population is governed is not new. The view that the social organization of a population may predispose it to one view of government over another, and that en masse these beliefs render some political systems acceptable or legitimate, was first proposed by Aristotle (1984 [c. 350 BC]) in his treatment of Greek city states; later by Montesquieu (1949 ), when he argued that the nation might operate as a tyranny, a monarchy or a republic, depending on the prevalence of servile, honest or egalitarian dispositions; and later still by Tocqueville (1947 [18561), when he argued that democracy flourished in the United States because of the liberal, egalitarian and participatory orientations of the American people. Similarly, the belief that democracy thrives where the majority of the people share values and attitudes that support the operation of democracy has been put forward by a number of more contemporary authors such as Lasswell (1951), Lipset (1959), Almond and Verba (1963) and Eckstein (1966).
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