politics & government types and theories
Slides presentation for Intro to Sociology subject.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - politics & government types and theories
HUNTING AND GATHERING SOCIETY
Once found all over the planet
This is not a formal government, mostly operated like large families.
Leadership mostly based on unusual strength, hunting skills, or personal
And with few resources, such leaders might control their own people but could
never rule a large area.
Agrarian societies are larger, with specialized jobs and material surpluses.
In these societies, a small elite gains control of most of the wealth and power.
So politics moves from the family to these elite and politics started to become
a social institution.
In this point, leaders start to claim a divine right to rule (quite similar with
weber’s traditional authority).
As societies grew bigger, politics tales the form of a national government.
National government is also known as political state.
The effectiveness of a political state depends on the available technology.
Centuries ago, armies moved slowly on foot, and communication over even short distances was
This is why, small city states was at that time.
The early political empires such as Mesopotamia, in the middle east about 5,000 years ago,
took the form of many small states.
•More complex technology brings about the larger scale system of nation-states.
•Currently the world has 194 independent nation-states, each with a somewhat
distinctive political system.
•Generally, these political system fall into four categories.
•Monarchy, democracy, authoritarianism and totalitarianism.
TYPES OF POLITICS
Monarchy Democracy Authoritarianism
• Monarchy (one ruler) is a political system in which a single family rules from generation to
• It is commonly found in the ancient agrarian societies.
• Example: from bible we know about the Great King Of David and Solomon.
• Even in today’s world, twenty-seven nations have royal families.
• Some trace their ancestry back for centuries.
• In Webers terms, monarchy is legitimized by tradition.
•During the middle age, absolute monarchs in much of the world claimed a
monopoly of power based on divine right.
•But today claims of divine right are rare.
•Example: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia Or Oman.
•With industrialization, however, monarchs gradually pass from the scene in
favor of elected officials.
•All the European nations with royal families today are constitutional
•Meaning that their monarchs are little more than symbolic heads of state;
actual governing is the responsibility of elected officials, led by prime minister
and guided by a constitution.
•DEMOCRACY: A Political system that gives power to the people as a whole.
•More accurately it can be said that, because it would be impossible for all
citizens to act as leaders, a system is devised.
•A system of representative democracy that puts authority in the hands of
leaders chosen by the people in elections.
•Most high income countries including those which still have royal families,
claim to be democratic.
•Industrialization and democratic government go together.
•Because both require literate populace.
•Again, democracy and rational-legal authority go together, just like monarchy
and traditional authority.
•But high income countries like UNITED STATES are not truly democratic for two
•First: there is the problem of bureaucracy.
• The us federal government has 2.7 million regular employees, 1.4 million uniformed military
personnel, and 8 million employees paid by various grants and special funding.
• Another 19 million people work in almost 90,000 local governments across the country.
• Most people who run the government are never elected by anyone and do not have to
answer directly to the people.
• The second problem involves economic inequality, since rich people have far more political
power than poor people.
• Example: John Mccain And Barack Obama.
• Became more rich by using the game of politics, “money talks”.
• This is why, though there are some problems in democracy but as it has few advantages also, it
is expected by most of the people.
•Democracy and freedom: capitalist and socialist approaches
----- Though democracy has some problems but the rich capitalist nations
such as the united states claim to operate as democracies.
----- Similarly, some socialist countries like Cuba and The People’s Republic Of
China make the same claim.
To know their politics, it is necessary to look at their economic system also.
•The political life of the united states, Canada and the nations of Europe
is largely shaped by the economic principles of capitalism.
•The pursuit of profit in a market system requires that “freedom” be
defined in terms of people’s right to act in their own self interest.
•Thus capitalist approach through political freedom translates into personal
•It means, the freedom to act in whatever ways maximize profit or other
•Political democracy thus, means that individuals have the right to select
their leaders from among those running for office.
•Criticism: capitalist societies are marked by a striking inequality
of income and wealth.
•If everyone acts according to self interest, the inevitable result is
that some people has much more power to get their way than
•Socialist system: Socialist system also they are democratic because their
economies meet everyone’s basic needs for housing, schooling, work and
•Despite being a much poorer country than united states, for example, Cuba
provides basic medical care to all its people regardless of their ability to
•Criticism: Critics of socialism counter that the extensive
government regulation of social life in these countries is cruel.
•The socialist governments of China and Cuba for example, do not
allow their people to move freely across or even within their
borders and tolerate no organized political opposition.
•Some nations prevent their people from having a voice in politics.
•Authoritarianism is political system that denies the people participation in
•This government is indifferent to people’s needs.
•Offers the people no voice in selecting leaders.
•This government uses force in response to dissent or opposition.
•Example: the absolute monarchies in Saudi Arabia And Oman.
•Similarly, the Military Junta in Ethiopia is also authoritarian.
•Usually, authoritarianism means a heavy-handed government. But
sometimes the different is also true for some countries.
•Example: a “soft authoritarianism” is available in Singapore.
•Singapore is not a democratic country in the conventional sense.
•Its political system offers a simple bargain.
•Government demand loyalty from its people.
•In return it provides them security and prosperity.
•Critics called this system as a “soft authoritarianism” as it
controls peoples lives and suffocates political dissent.
•The most intensely controlled political form is totalitarianism.
•It means a highly centralized political system that extensively regulates people’s
•This political system emerged in the twentieth century.
•Technological advances gave governments the ability to control their populations
•EXAMPLE: VIETNAM, NORTH KOREA.
•Vietnamese government closely monitored the activities of not only the
visitors but also all its citizens.
•Similarly, North Korea uses surveillance equipment and powerful
computers to control its people by collecting and storing information
•Totalitarianism, as the term itself implies, such governments have a total
concentration of power, allowing no organized opposition.
•It denies people’s right to assemble and controlling access to information and thus
these governments create an atmospheres of personal isolation and fear.
•Example: in the final year of Soviet Union, ordinary citizens had no access to
telephone directories, copying equipment, fax machines, or even accurate city
•This kind of government span the political spectrum from fascist (as in
Nazi Germany) to communist (as in North Korea).
•In all cases, one party claims total control of the society and permits no
•Socialization in totalitarian societies is intensely political, with the goal of
obedience and commitment to the system.
•For example: North Korea, one of the world’s most totalitarian states.
•Pictures of this country’s leaders and political messages are everywhere,
reminding the citizens that they owe total allegiance to the state.
•Government-controlled schools and mass media present only official versions of
THEORIES OF POWER IN SOCIETY
system is biased
The Power Elite
Model: A few
•Power is very difficult to study because decision making is complex and often
takes place behind close doors.
•Implementation of power its vary and its based highly on the state political and
•Despite this difficulty, researcher have developed three competing models of
power in regards; the case of power spread over United States population.
THE PLURALIST MODEL: THE PEOPLE RULE
• The pluralist model, closely related to structural-functional theory.
• It is an analysis of politics that sees power as spread among many competing interest groups.
• Pluralist claim:
-----Politics is an arena of negotiation.
----- It means, with limited resources, no organization can expect to achieve all its goals.
----- Organizations therefore, operate as veto groups, realizing some success but mostly keeping opponents
from achieving all their ends.
----- The political process relies heavily on creating unions and
compromises among numerous interest groups so that policies gain wide
----- In short, pluralists see power as spread throughout society, with all
people having at least some voice in the political system.
THE POWER- ELITE MODEL: A FEW PEOPLE RULE
•The power-elite model, based on social-conflict theory.
•It is an analysis of politics that sees power as concentrated among the
•The term power-elite was coined by c. Wright mills (1956).
•He argued that a small upper class holds most of society’s wealth,
prestige and power.
•Mills claimed that members of the power elite head up the three major
sector of U.S. Society: the economy, the government and the military.
•The power elite is made up of the “super-rich” (corporate executive and
•For example: top officials in Washington, D. C. and state capitals around
the country; and the highest-ranking officers in the U.S. Military.
•Further, mills explained, these elites move from one sector to another,
building power as they go.
•For example: Former Vice President Dick Cheney has moved back and
forth between powerful positions in the corporate world and the federal
•Similarly, Colin Powell moved from a top position in The U. S. Military to
become secretary of state.
•Power elite theorists say that the United States is not a democracy because the
influence of a few people with great wealth and power is so strong that the average
person’s voice can’t be heard.
•They reject the pluralist idea that various centers of power serve as checks and
balances on one another.
•According to the power elite model, those at the top are so powerful that they face no
THE MARXIST MODEL : THE SYSTEM IS BIASED
• Marxist-political economy model : is an analysis that explains politics in terms of the operation
of a society’s economic system.
• Like the power elite model, Marxist model REJECTS the idea that the U.S. operates as a political
• Power-elite model focuses on just the enourmous whealth and power of certain individuals, the
Marxist model goes further and sees BIASED rooted in the nations institutions, especially its
•As Karl Marx claimed that a society’s economic system (capital or capitalist)
SHAPES its political system.
•Therefore the power elite do not simply appear out of nowhere, they are the
CREATIONS of the capitalist economy.
•From this point of view, REFORMING the political system – by limiting the amount
money that rich people can contribute to political candidates
•The problem does not lie in the people who exercise great power or the people
who do not vote, the problem is rooted IN THE SYSTEM ITSELF, or what Marxist all
the “political economy of capitalism”.
•In other words, as long as U.S. has a mostly capitalist economy, the majority of
people wil be shut out of politics, just as they are exploited in the workplace.