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The socio-cultural dynamics of development: part 2 the cultural basis of political evolution

Maurice Yolles (Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 27 June 2019

Issue publication date: 27 June 2019




Agency development is inherently a process of institutional evolution. The purpose of this part 2 (of a 3 part) paper is to explore development in the political context, producing a cultural model of political development as institutional evolution, explaining how political groups may come to power culturally. This requires a detailed examination of culture and cultural change, and a study of strategic political frames that define political groups seeking support for political power from agents in a political sphere. During cultural instabilities or social crises, frames may become cynical and embrace liquid persuasion and hence populism.


A cultural model for political development is created involving three variables (emotional climate, cultural order and compliance). This enables cultural comparison of different political groups. Strategic political frames are examined to understand how those vying for agency power may attract support from agents in the activity system. Liquid frames are also explored to understand the cynical nature of populism and its contribution to institutional devolution.


A political development theory result that identifies the conditions under which formal political groups can promote frames that may attract support from agents from who they require support to gain agency power status. A model is produced for political development. It explains populism as a thin ideology with a collectivist orientation that uses liquid framing, and it introduces its individualist counterpart, political synergism.

Research limitations/implications

The implication of this research is that it will allow empirical methods to be used that potentially enable political outcomes in complex political environments to be anticipated, given additional appropriate measurement criteria.


Linking agency and institutional theory to explain the process of development is new, as is its application to the political development process in a political landscape. As part of this linkage, it has been shown how Bauman’s concept of liquidity relates to Sorokin’s ideas of socio-cultural change.



Yolles, M. (2019), "The socio-cultural dynamics of development: part 2 the cultural basis of political evolution", Kybernetes, Vol. 49 No. 7, pp. 1837-1869.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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