In political science, a political system means the type of political organization that can be recognized, observed or otherwise declared by a state.
It defines the process for making official government decisions. It usually comprizes the governmental legal and economic system, social and cultural system, and other state and government specific systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the questions of who should have authority and what the government influence on its people and economy should be.
According to David Easton, "A political system can be designated as the interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society".
Sociological and socioanthropological classificationEdit
Social anthropologists generally recognize four kinds of political systems, two of which are uncentralized and two of which are centralized.
Empires are widespread states or communities under a single rule. They are characterized by the ruler's desire for unanimous religious affiliation or posing as a threat to other empires in times of war. Empires - such as the Romans, or British - often made considerable progress in ways of democratic structures, creating and building city infrastructures, and maintaining civility within the diverse communities. Because of the intricate organization of the empires, they were often able to hold a large majority of power on a universal level.
Leagues are international organizations composed of states coming together for a single common purpose. In this way leagues are different from empires, as they only seek to fulfill a single goal. Often leagues are formed on the brink of a military or economic downfall. Meetings and hearings are conducted in a neutral location with representatives of all involved nations present.
Social political scienceEdit
The sociological interest in political systems is figuring out who holds power within the relationship of the government and its people and how the government’s power is used. There are three types of political systems that sociologists consider:
In authoritarian governments, the people have no power or representation and it is characterized by absolute or blind obedience to formal authority, as against individual freedom and related to the expectation of unquestioning obedience. The elite leaders handle all economic, military, and foreign relations. A prime example of authoritarianism is a dictatorship.
Totalitarianism is the most extreme form of authoritarianism because it controls all aspects of life including the communication between citizens, media censorship, and threatens by the means of terror.
A monarchy is a government controlled by a king or queen determined by a predisposed line of sovereignty. In other words, it can be seen as an undivided rule or absolute sovereignty by a single person. In the modern world there are two types of monarchies, absolute monarchies and constitutional monarchies. An absolute monarchy works like a dictatorship in that the king has complete rule over his country. A constitutional monarchy gives the royal family limited powers and usually works in accordance with an elected body of officials. Social revolutions of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century overthrew the majority of existing monarchies in favor of more democratic governments and a rising middle class, as well as of authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union.
A democracy is a form of government in which the citizens create and vote for laws directly, or indirectly via representatives (democratic republic). The idea of democracy stems back from ancient Greece and the profound works of ancient academics.
Almond, Gabriel A., et al. Comparative Politics Today: A World View (Seventh Edition). 2000. ISBN 0-316-03497-5.
Carneiro, Robert L. (2011). "The Chiefdom: Precursor of the State". In Jones, Grant D.; Kautz, Robert R. (eds.). The Transition to Statehood in the New World. New Directions in Archaeology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 37–79. ISBN 978-0-521-17269-1.
Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. The Real World An Introduction to Sociology. 3rd ed. New York City: W W Norton & Co, 2012. Print.
"political system". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2012.
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For further resources on political theory and the mechanics of political system design, see the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre's topic guide on political systems