Gabriel Almond

Gabriel Almond

Gabriel A. Almond (12 January 1911 - 25 December 2002) was an American political scientist best known for his pioneering work on comparative politics, political development, and political culture.


Almond was born in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants. He attended the University of Chicago, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, and worked with Harold Lasswell. Almond completed his PhD degree in 1938, but his doctoral dissertation, "Plutocracy and Politics in New York City", was not published until 1998, because it included unflattering references to John D. Rockefeller, a benefactor of Chicago.

Almond taught at Brooklyn College (now the City University of New York) from 1939 to 1942. With U.S. entry into World War II, Almond joined the Office of War Information, analyzing enemy propaganda, and becoming head of its Enemy Information Section. After the war, Almond worked for the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in post-war Germany.

Almond returned to academic life in 1947 and taught at Yale (1947-1950) and (1959-1963), Princeton (1950-1959), and Stanford University (1963-1993). He was chair of the political science department at Stanford from 1964 to 1969 and spent time as a visiting professor at the universities of Toyko, Belo Horizonte in Brazil, and Kiev. Although Almond retired in 1976 and became an emeritus professor at Stanford, he continued to write and teach until his death.

Almond chaired the Social Science Research Council's Committee on Comparative Politics for many years and was president of the American Political Science Association (APSA) for 1965-66. In 1981, he received APSA's James Madison Award, which is given to a political scientist who has made a "distinguished scholarly contribution" during his or her career.


Almond broadened the field of political science in the 1950s by integrating approaches from other social science disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology, into his work. He transformed an interest in foreign policy into systematic studies of comparative political development and culture. Almond's research eventually covered many topics, including the politics of developing countries, Communism, and religious fundamentalism.

Almond was a prolific author, publishing 18 books and numerous journal articles, and co-writing many others. His most famous work was "The Civic Culture" (1963), co-authored with Sidney Verba. It popularized the idea of a political culture - a concept that includes national character and how people choose to govern themselves - as a fundamental aspect of society. Almond and Verba distinguished different political cultures according to their level and type of political participation and the nature of people's attitudes toward politics. "The Civic Culture" was one of the first large-scale cross-national survey studies undertaken in political science and greatly stimulated comparative studies of democracy.

Almond also contributed to theoretical work on political development. In "Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach" (1966), Almond and G. Bingham Powell proposed a variety of cultural and functional ways to measure the development of societies. For a period in the 1960s and 1970s, Almond's approaches came to define comparative politics.

Almond's Three Publics

In his 1950 "The American People and Foreign Policy", Almond proposed that there were three American public opinions, not just one:

1. A "general public" of a majority that does not know or care about much beyond their immediate concerns. For example, they show little interest in foreign policy unless the country is in a war or international crisis.

2. An "attentive public" of a minority who are among the better educated and who follow more abstract political concerns, such as foreign policy. They are the audience the elite plays to; and, in turn, this attentive public passes on views that mobilize the general public.

3. A "policy and opinion elite" of a few highly influential people who are involved in politics, often professionally. These members of Congress, appointed officials, and top journalists devise foreign and domestic policies and articulate them to the attentive and general publics. (Weissberg)

elected Publications

*"Aggressive Behavior by Clients Toward Public Relief Administrators: A Configurative Analysis." 1934. "American Political Science Review" 28(4): 643-655. (with Harold D. Lasswell).
*"The American People and Foreign Policy". 1950. Harcourt, Brace.
*"The Appeals of Communism". 1954. Princeton University Press.
*"The Politics of the Developing Areas". 1960. Princeton University Press. (edited with James S. Coleman).
*"The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations". 1963. Princeton University Press. (with Sidney Verba).
*"Political Theory and Political Science." 1966. "American Political Science Review" 60(4): 869-879.
*"Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach". 1966. Little, Brown. (with G. Bingham Powell, Jr.).
*"Comparative Politics Today: A World View". 1974. Little, Brown. (editor).
*"Crisis, Choice, and Change: Historial Studies of Political Development". 1975. Little, Brown. (edited with Scott Flanagan and Robert Mundt).
*"The Civic Culture Revisited". 1980. Little, Brown. (edited with Sidney Verba.
*"The Return to the State." 1988. "American Political Science Review" 82(3): 853-874.
*"A Discipline Divided: Schools and Sects in Political Science". 1990. Sage.
*"Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms Around the World". 2003. University of Chicago Press. (with R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan).
*"Polling, Policy, and Public Opinion: The Case Against Heeding the "Voice of the People". 2002. Weissberg, Robert. New York, Palgrave.


* Eulau, Heinz, Lucian Pye and Sidney Verba. 2003. "Memorial Resolution: Gabriel Almond." "Stanford Reporter", 21 May.
* Lockhart, Charles. 1993. "Gabriel Almond." In "American Political Scientists: A Dictionary", eds. G. Utter and C. Lockhart. Greenwood Press.
* Martin, Douglas. 2003. "Gabriel A. Almond, 91, Political Scientist." "New York Times", 13 January.
* Trie, Lisa. 2003. "Gabriel A. Almond, Preeminent Political Scientist, Dies." "Stanford Reporter", 8 January.

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