Political system

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In political science, a political system means the type of political organization that can be recognized, observed or otherwise declared by a state.[1]

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.

The major types of political systems are democracies, monarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes with varying hybrid systems.[2]

Definition[edit]

According to David Easton, "A political system can be designated as the interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society".[3]

Social political science[edit]

World's states colored by form of government1

The sociological interest in political systems is figuring out who holds power within the relationship between the government and its people and how the government’s power is used. According to Yale professor Juan José Linz there a three main types of political systems today: democracies, totalitarian regimes and, sitting between these two, authoritarian regimes (with hybrid regimes).[4][5] Another modern classification system includes monarchies as a standalone entity or as a hybrid system of the main three.[6] Scholars generally refer to a dictatorship as either a form of authoritarianism or totalitarianism.[7][8][4][9]

Democracy[edit]

Democracy (From Ancient Greek: δημοκρατία, romanizeddēmokratía, dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule'[10]) is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choose governing officials to do so ("representative democracy"). Who is considered part of "the people" and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different rates in different countries, but over time more and more of a democratic country's inhabitants have generally been included. Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, freedom of religion and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.

Authoritarianism[edit]

Authoritarianism is a political system characterized by the rejection of political plurality, the use of strong central power to preserve the political status quo, and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic voting.[11][12] Political scientists have created many typologies describing variations of authoritarian forms of government.[12] Authoritarian regimes may be either autocratic or oligarchic and may be based upon the rule of a party or the military.[13][14] States that have a blurred boundary between democracy and authoritarianism have some times been characterized as "hybrid democracies", "hybrid regimes" or "competitive authoritarian" states.[15][16][17]

Totalitarian[edit]

Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual and group opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high if not complete degree of control and regulation over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. In totalitarian states, political power is often held by autocrats, such as dictators (totalitarian dictatorship) and absolute monarchs, who employ all-encompassing campaigns in which propaganda is broadcast by state-controlled mass media in order to control the citizenry.[18] By 1950, the term and concept of totalitarianism entered mainstream Western political discourse. Furthermore this era also saw anti-communist and McCarthyist political movements intensify and use the concept of totalitarianism as a tool to convert pre-World War II anti-fascism into Cold War anti-communism.[19][20][21][22][23]

Monarchy[edit]

A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largely symbolic (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy), and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative, and judicial.

The succession of monarchs in many cases has been hereditical, often building dynastic periods. However, elective and self-proclaimed monarchies have also happened. Aristocrats, though not inherent to monarchies, often serve as the pool of persons to draw the monarch from and fill the constituting institutions (e.g. diet and court), giving many monarchies oligarchic elements.

Hybrid[edit]

A hybrid regime[a] is a mixed type of political system often created as a result of an incomplete transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one (or vice versa).[b] Hybrid regimes are categorized as combine autocratic features with democratic ones and can simultaneously hold political repressions and regular elections.[b] Hybrid regimes are commonly found in developing countries with abundant natural resources such as petro-states.[38][29][39] Although these regimes experience civil unrest they maybe relatively stable and tenacious for decades at a time.[b] There has been a rise in hybrid regimes since the end of the Cold War.[40][41]

The term hybrid regime arises from a polymorphic view of political regimes that opposes the dichotomy of autocracy or democracy.[42] Modern scholarly analysis of hybrid regimes focuses attention on the decorative nature of democratic institutions (elections do not lead to a change of power, different media broadcast government point of view and the opposition in parliament votes the same way as the ruling party, among others),[43] from which it is concluded that democratic backsliding, a transition to authoritarianism is the most prevalent basis of hybrid regimes.[b][44][45] Some scholars also contend that hybrid regimes may imitate a full dictatorship.[46][47]

Sociological and socioanthropological classification[edit]

Social anthropologists generally recognize four kinds of political systems, two of which are uncentralized and two of which are centralized.[48]

  • Uncentralized systems
    • Band society
      • Small family group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.
      • A band can cease to exist if only a small group walks out.
    • Tribe
      • Generally larger, consisting of many families. Tribes have more social institutions, such as a chief or elders.
      • More permanent than bands. Many tribes are sub-divided into bands.
  • Centralized governments
    • Chiefdom
      • More complex than a tribe or a band society, and less complex than a state or a civilization
      • Characterized by pervasive inequality and centralization of authority.
      • A single lineage/family of the elite class becomes the ruling elite of the chiefdom
      • Complex chiefdoms have two or even three tiers of political hierarchy.
      • "An autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages or communities under the permanent control of a paramount chief"[49]
    • Sovereign state
      • A sovereign state is a state with a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.
  • Supranational political systems
    • Supranational political systems are created by independent nations to reach a common goal or gain strength from forming an alliance.
  • Empires
    • 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
    • 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.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Scholars uses a variety of terms to encompass the "greyzones” between full autocracies and full democracies such as competitive authoritarianism or hybrid authoritarianism or electoral authoritarianism or delegative democracy or illiberal democracy or guided democracy or liberal autocracy or semi-democracy or deficient democracy or defective democracy or hybrid democracy or Semi-authoritarianism.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30]
  2. ^ a b c d "Some scholars argue that deficient democracies and deficient autocracies can be seen as examples of hybrid regimes, whereas others argue that hybrid regimes combine characteristics of both democratic and autocratic regimes."[24] Scholars also debate if these regimes are in transition or are inherently a stable political system.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Douglas V. Verney (15 April 2013). The Analysis of Political Systems. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-03477-1.
  • Almond, Gabriel A., et al. Comparative Politics Today: A World View (Seventh Edition). 2000. ISBN 0-316-03497-5.
  • 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.

External links[edit]