Political Systems:

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					 Political system: maintain
internal as well as external
order by exercising power
        and authority.

Dysfunction: state coercion,
          Why Government?
• Protect the Citizenry
  – Laws
  – Regulatory agencies – organizations established by
    the government to enforce statutes that apply to a
    particular activity.
• Secure Order
• Distribute Power Equitably
• Provide a Safety Net
  – Government provides a minimum standard of living
    below which it will not allow citizens to fall.
            Political Systems:

 • Major sociologic concerns:
  the source of power,
 the exercise of power,
 the distribution of power,
 and the relationship between
   government and people:

            The source of power:
• Charismatic power: power based on
  individual attributes and personal charm

• Traditional power: power based on long
  established custom.

• Legal Rational Power: laws, legal
• Critical thinking: American government?
             Public Attitudes

  – Americans want strong leaders, but they also fear the
    abuse of power that a strong leader may bring to the
  – Americans have favorable attitudes toward ordinary
    people holding political office, but they also value
    charisma of their leaders.
  – Americans want leaders who will unify the people, but
    they do not want to compromise their own positions in
    order to forge the unity.
  – Americans admire leaders with vision, but they also
    believe that leaders should be responsive to public
• Ideologies: government out of the way of
  individuals vs active government intervention
 The source of power determines the
        type of government
   • Authoritarian government: people are excluded
     from political process, and one or a few in
     control. (monarchy, oligarchy)

   • Totalitarian government: the government not
     only control politics, but all other aspects of
     people’s life.

   • Democratic government: participatory
     democracy, representative democracy
     (universal suffrage)
    Problems Concerning the Political
• The Structure of Government
   – The extent to which a government is a political
     democracy (e.g. two party system).
   – The way the government is organized to fulfill its
• Ideal: decentralized, small, democratic
• Reality: centralized form of government:
           a power elite
Only a little over half of all Americans express a “great deal”
  or “a lot” of trust in the presidency.
Political Alienation – a feeling of political disillusionment,
  powerlessness, and estrangement.
        The Failure of Trust
• Military-industry complex: the
  interdependency and connection between
  military and private military contractors.(
  problems: high cost and low quality products)
                 The political process
•   Lack of Citizen Participation.
•   Voting turn-out: gender, social status, and racial/ethnical differences
•    increasing number PACs and lobbyists
     – Low voter turnout is not a new phenomenon in American politics.
     – About half or less of the voting-age population participates in national elections.
•   Altered Voting Patterns.
Voter apathy: indifference of people in political participation

•   The Economics of Campaigning
     – On the average, a winning Senate seat went from $609,000 in 1976 to $7 million
       in 2004.
     – On the average, a winning House seat cost $87,000 in 1976 and $1 million in
     – People without access to considerable sums of money or money-raising skills
       are unlikely to win an election.
     – Campaign finance reform.
    Growing Federal Bureaucracy:
. Expanded government: the rate of increase in the
    number of government employees has been much
    higher than the rate of increase in the population.

• E.g. federal government: around 40% , state 346% and local
• expenditure grows at an unprecedented rate: after
    200 years, increased to 500 billion in 1980
•   1990: double that amount
•   1995: 1.5 trillion
•   More than 20% of the nations gross domestic product.
    (over 40% from individual tax):
•   Why: social structural factors: population, more
    functions. Media etc.
            Failure of Trust:
• Waste, Corruption and Scandals
• Patronage: giving government jobs to
  people who are members of the winning
• Gridlock: the inability of the government to
  legislate significant new policies because
  of ideological conflict, party differences, or
  a standoff between the executive and
  legislative branches.
            The American system:
• Power elite model: power is concentrated in the
  hands of a few people who are big corporate
  leaders, military and political leaders. (conflict
• Pluralist model: power is dispersed among
  different interest groups that are represented in
  the government, decision is made based on
  negotiation and compromised of the
  representatives. (functionalist perspective

      Measures of Democracy
• Three different methods:
• 1. survey-based data: public perception of
  democracy (e.g. Global Barometer Survey and
  World Value Survey)
• 2. Standards-based Survey: use specific political
  ideals as the basis and measuer the extent to
  which those ideals have been realized.
  (Freedom House’s 7 point scale of political
  social liberties)
• 3. Events-based data count specific events that
  promotes or impede democracy
             Interest Groups

• Most effective way to influence government.
• There are about 30,000 interest groups in the
• In the 2004 election, Political Action Committees
  (PAC’s) contributed $842.9 million to various
• Lobbyist – an individual who tries to influence
  legislation in accord with the preferences of an
  interest group.
                Social Movement
• Collective attempts to further a common interest or common goal
  thorugh action outside the sphere of established institutions.

• Revolutions: the attempt to overthrow the existing political order and
  replace it with new one (dramatic and unorthodox)

• Karl Marx: class struggle, the “immiseration thesis.

• Talcott Parson: (functionalist theoriest) maintained that revolutions
  were not political at all and had little to do with economic
  deprivation, but irrational responses by large number of people who
  were not sufficiently connected to social life to see the benefits of
  existing conditions and this could be worked into a frenzy by outside
Public Policy and Private Action
• Restructuring
• Campaign finance reform
• Greater citizen participation
    The relationship between
     government and people
• People’s expectation: welfare:
  Government has not measured up to
  people’s expectation
• Protect people: Inadequate protection vs
  individual rights
• Unresponsive to people’s needs.
         Political-Economic Ideologies
• Hunting -gathering: subsistence economy, non-market
• Agrarian: feudalism, mercantilism
• Industrial: free market, free competition capitalism
• Socialism: centralized control, command economies,
• Post-industrial: knowledge and information is central
           to economic development, growth in service,
           welfare system
• Democratic socialism: major economic organizations
        owned by the state, but economic decision made
        democratically, but allow private ownership

            Conditions for Democratic
• high level of economic development
• the literacy level: informed
• diffusion of power among groups
  and organizations
• cultural heritage for individualism
• political culture that legitimize
  the democratic system and its
• the existence of opposition force
            Democratic systems:

• the Iron Law of Oligarchy: rule by a few
  people who stay in office indefinitely
• parliamentary democracy
• representative democracy
• The American system:

                     The Media

•   Political Campaigns
    –   69% of Americas rely on television for their political
•   Political Agendas and Government Actions
    –   Control of the media lies in the hands of a small
        group of corporations.
•   Failure of Trust
    –   Media give much coverage to scandals, including
        matters that would have been glossed over as
        private affairs in past decades.

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