Gabriel A. Almond (January 12, 1911 – December 25, 2002) was a political scientist from the United States best known for his pioneering work on comparative politics, political development, and political culture.
Almond was born in Rock Island, Illinois, U.S., 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 Ph.D. 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 the University 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 University where he was part of their Institute of International Studies until 1951, when he was part of a group that left for Princeton University and founded its Center of International Studies. He subsequently returned to Yale in 1959, then went to Stanford University in 1963, where he remained until his retirement in 1993. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1961. He was chair of the political science department at Stanford from 1964 to 1969 and spent time as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, the University of Belo Horizonte, and the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. 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. He was also the first recipient of the Karl Deutsch Award of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) in 1997. Almond died in Pacific Grove, California aged 91.
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.
The similarities between Almond's view and Lippmann's produced what became known as the Almond–Lippmann consensus, which is based on three assumptions:
- Public opinion is volatile, shifting erratically in response to the most recent developments. Mass beliefs early in the twentieth century were "too pacifist in peace and too bellicose in war, too neutralist or appeasing in negotiations or too intransigent."
- Public opinion is incoherent, lacking an organized or a consistent structure to such an extent that the views of US citizens could best be described as "nonattitudes"
- Public opinion is irrelevant to the policy-making process. Political leaders ignore public opinion because most Americans can neither "understand nor influence the very events upon which their lives and happiness are known to depend."
- Holsti,Ole, R., and James M. Rosenau. 1979. "Vietnam, Consensus, and the Belief Systems of American Leaders." World Politics 32. (October):1-56
- Lippmann, Walter. 1955. Essays in the Public Philosophy. Boston: Little, Brown.
- Converse, Philip. 1964. "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics." In Ideology and Discontent, ed. David Apter, 206-261. New York: Free Press.
- Almond, Gabriel. 1950. The American People and Foreign Policy. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
- Kris, Ernst, and Nathan Leites. 1947. "Trends in Twentieth Century Propaganda." In Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences, ed. Geza Rheim, pp. 393-409. New York: international University Press.