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 main types of political systems recognized are democracies, totalitarian regimes and, sitting between these two, authoritarian regimes with a variety of hybrid regimes.[2][3] Modern classification system also include monarchies as a standalone entity or as a hybrid system of the main three.[4][5]

Definition edit

According to David Easton, "A political system can be designated as the interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society".[6] Political system refers broadly to the process by which laws are made and public resources allocated in a society, and to the relationships among those involved in making these decisions.[7]

Social political science edit

 
Systems of government
Republican forms of government:
  Presidential republics with an executive presidency separate from the legislature
  Semi-presidential system with both an executive presidency and a separate head of government that leads the rest of the executive, who is appointed by the president and accountable to the legislature
  Parliamentary republics with a ceremonial and non-executive president, where a separate head of government leads the executive and is dependent on the confidence of the legislature
  Republics in which a combined head or directory of state and government is elected by, or nominated by, the legislature and may or may not be subject to parliamentary confidence

Monarchical forms of government:
  Constitutional monarchies with a ceremonial and non-executive monarch, where a separate head of government leads the executive
  Semi-constitutional monarchies with a ceremonial monarch, but where royalty still hold significant executive or legislative power
  Absolute monarchies where the monarch leads the executive

  Countries where constitutional provisions for government have been suspended
  Countries which do not fit any of the above systems (e.g. provisional government or unclear political situations)

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).[3][8] Another modern classification system includes monarchies as a standalone entity or as a hybrid system of the main three.[4] Scholars generally refer to a dictatorship as either a form of authoritarianism or totalitarianism.[9][10][3][11]

Democracy edit

Democracy (from Ancient Greek: δημοκρατία, romanizeddēmokratía, dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule')[12] is a system of government in which state power is vested in the people or the general population of a state.[13] According to the United Nations, democracy "provides an environment that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in which the freely expressed will of people is exercised."[14]

Authoritarianism edit

Authoritarianism is a political system characterized by a controlling government and the rejection of democracy, human rights, and political plurality. It involves 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.[15][16] Political scientists have created many typologies describing variations of authoritarian forms of government.[16] Authoritarian regimes may be either autocratic or oligarchic and may be based upon the rule of a party or the military.[17][18] States that have a blurred boundary between democracy and authoritarianism have some times been characterized as "hybrid democracies", "hybrid regimes" or "competitive authoritarian" states.[19][20][21]

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) or absolute monarchs, who employ all-encompassing campaigns in which propaganda is broadcast by state-controlled mass media in order to control the citizenry.[22]

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 span across executive, legislative, and judicial domains.[23]

The succession of monarchs has mostly been hereditary, often building dynastic periods. However, elective and self-proclaimed monarchies have also often occurred throughout history.[24] Aristocrats, though not inherent to monarchies, often serve as the pool of persons from which the monarch is chosen, and to fill the constituting institutions (e.g. diet and court), giving many monarchies oligarchic elements.

Hybrid edit

A hybrid regime[a] is a type of political system often created as a result of an incomplete democratic transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one (or vice versa).[b] Hybrid regimes are categorized as having a combination of 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.[43][32][44] Although these regimes experience civil unrest, they may be 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.[45][46]

The term hybrid regime arises from a polymorphic view of political regimes that opposes the dichotomy of autocracy or democracy.[47] 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),[48] from which it is concluded that democratic backsliding, a transition to authoritarianism is the most prevalent basis of hybrid regimes.[b][49][50] Some scholars also contend that hybrid regimes may imitate a full dictatorship.[51][52]

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.[53]

  • 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"[54]
    • 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 consisting of people of different ethnicities under a single rule. Empires - such as the Romans, or British - often made considerable progress in ways of political 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:[25] such as competitive authoritarianism or semi-authoritarianism or hybrid authoritarianism or electoral authoritarianism or liberal autocracy or delegative democracy or illiberal democracy or guided democracy or semi-democracy or deficient democracy or defective democracy or hybrid democracy.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]
  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."[27] Scholars also debate if these regimes are in transition or are inherently a stable political system.[34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42]

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