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Government and Politics


Introduction     3


      How is political power distributed among members of society?  3


      Traditional Authority  4

      Legal-Rational Authority     4

      Charismatic Authority  5


      Monarchy    6

      Oligarchy   6

      Dictatorship and Totalitarianism  6

      Democracy   7


      Political Socialization      8

      Participation and Apathy     9

      Women and Politics     10

      Interest Groups  11


      Elite Model 12

      Pluralist Model  14

      Who Does Rule?   15

      SUMMARY     15

      KEY TERMS   16

References: 17


      Political system  is  one  of  the  subsystem  of  society,  and  play
sufficient role in our life.
      The term political system refers to a recognized set of procedures for
implementing and obtaining the goals of a group.
      Each society must  have  a  political  system  in  order  to  maintain
recognized  procedures  for  allocating  valued  resources.   In   political
scientist Harold Lasswells (1936) terms, politics is who gets  what,  when,
and how. Thus, like religion  and  the  family,  a  political  system  is  a
cultural universal; it is a social institution found in every society.
      We will focus on government and politics within the United  States  as
well as other industrialized nations and preindustrial societies.  In  their
study of politics and political systems,  sociologists  are  concerned  with
social interactions among individuals and groups and  their  impact  on  the
larger political order. For example, in studying the  controversy  over  the
nomination of Judge Robert Bork, sociologists might wish to focus on  how  a
change in the group structure of American societythe increasing  importance
of the black vote for southern Democratic candidatesaffected  the  decision
making of Howell Heflin and other senators (and, ultimately, the outcome  of
the Bork confirmation battle). From a sociological  perspective,  therefore,
a fundamental question is: how do a nations social  conditions  affect  its
day-to-day political and governmental life?


      Power is at the heart of a political system. Power may be  defined  as
the ability to exercise ones will over others. To put it  another  way,  if
one party in a relationship can control the  behavior  of  the  other,  that
individual or group is exercising power. Power relations can  involve  large
organizations, small groups, or even  people  in  an  intimate  association.
Blood and Wolfe (1960) devised the concept of marital power to describe  the
manner in which decision making is distributed within families.
      There  are  three  basic  sources  of  power  within   any   political
systemforce, influence, and authority. Force is the  actual  or  threatened
use of coercion to impose ones will on others.  When  leaders  imprison  or
even execute political dissidents, they are applying  force;  so,  too,  are
terrorists when they seize an embassy or  assassinate  a  political  leader.
Influence, on the other hand, refers to the  exercise  of  power  through  a
process of persuasion. A citizen may change his or her position regarding  a
Supreme  Court  nominee  because  of  a  newspaper  editorial,  the   expert
testimony of a law school dean before the Senate Judiciary Committee,  or  a
stirring  speech  at  a  rally  by  a  political  activist.  In  each  case,
sociologists would view such efforts  to  persuade  people  as  examples  of
influence. Authority, the third source of power, will be discussed later.
      Max  Weber  made  an  important  distinction  between  legitimate  and
illegitimate power. In a political sense, the term legitimacy refers to  the
'belief of a citizenry that a government has the right to rule  and  that  a
citizen ought to obey the rules and laws of  that  government'.  Of  course,
the meaning of the term can be extended beyond  the  sphere  of  government.
Americans typically  accept  the  power  of  their  parents,  teachers,  and
religious leaders as legitimate. By contrast, if the right of  a  leader  to
rule is not accepted by most citizens (as is often the case when a  dictator
overthrows a popularly elected government), the regime  will  be  considered
illegitimate. When those in power lack legitimacy, they  usually  resort  to
coercive methods in order to maintain control over social institutions.

How is political power distributed among members of society?

      Political power is not divided evenly among all  members  of  society.
How extreme is this inequality? Three theoretical perspectives  answer  this
question in three different  ways.  First,  Marxist  theories  suggest  that
power is concentrated in  the  hands  of  the  few  who  own  the  means  of
production.   Powerful   capitalists   manipulate   social   and    cultural
arrangements to increase further  their  wealth  and  power,  often  at  the
expense of the powerless.
      Second, power elite theories agree that power is concentrated  in  the
hands of a few people;  the  elite  includes  military  leaders,  government
officials, and business executives. This group consists of those who  occupy
the top positions in  our  organizational  hierarchies;  they  have  similar
backgrounds and share the same interests and goals. According to this  view,
any organization (even a nation-state) has a built-in tendency to become  an
oligarchy (rule by the few).
      Third, pluralist theories suggest that various  groups  and  interests
compete for  political  power.  In  contrast  to  Marxist  and  power  elite
theorists, pluralists see power as dispersed among many  people  and  groups
who do  not  necessarily  agree  on  what  should  be  done.  Lobbyists  for
environmental groups, for example, will battle with lobbyists for  the  coal
industry over antipollution legislation. In this way the will of the  people
is translated into political action.  Thurow,  however,  suggests  that  too
many divergent views have made it nearly impossible to arrive  at  a  public
policy that is both effective in solving social  problems  and  satisfactory
to different interest groups.


      The term authority refers to power that has been institutionalized and
is recognized  by  the  people  over  whom  it  is  exercised.  Sociologists
commonly use the term in connection with those  who  hold  legitimate  power
through elected or publicly  acknowledged  positions.  It  is  important  to
stress that a  persons  authority  is  limited  by  the  constraints  of  a
particular social position. Thus, a referee  has  the  authority  to  decide
whether a penalty should be  called  during  a  football  game  but  has  no
authority over the price of tickets to the game.
      Max Weber (1947) provided a classification system regarding  authority
that has become one of the most useful and  frequently  cited  contributions
of  early  sociology.  He  identified  three  ideal  types   of   authority:
traditional, legal-rational, and charismatic.  Weber  did  not  insist  that
particular societies fit exactly into any one of these  categories.  Rather,
all can be present in a society, but their  relative  degree  of  importance
varies. Sociologists have found Webers typology to  be  quite  valuable  in
understanding  different  manifestations  of  legitimate  power   within   a

Traditional Authority

      In a political system based on traditional authority, legitimate power
is conferred by custom and accepted practice. The orders of ones  superiors
are felt to be legitimate because 'this  is  how  things  have  always  been
done.' For example, a king or queen is accepted as ruler of a nation  simply
by virtue of inheriting the crown.  The  monarch  may  be  loved  or  hated,
competent or destructive; in terms of legitimacy, that does not matter.  For
the  traditional  leader,  authority  rests  in  custom,  not  in   personal
characteristics, technical competence, or even written law.
      Traditional authority is absolute in many instances because the  ruler
has the ability to determine laws  and  policies.  Since  the  authority  is
legitimized by ancient custom, traditional authority is commonly  associated
with preindustrial societies. Yet this form of authority is also evident  in
more developed nations. For example, a leader  may  take  on  the  image  of
having divine guidance, as was true of Japans Emperor Hirohito,  who  ruled
during World War II. On another level,  ownership  and  leadership  in  some
small businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, may pass  directly
from parent to child and generation to generation.

Legal-Rational Authority

      Power made legitimate by law is  known  as  legal-rational  authority.
Leaders of such societies derive their authority from the written rules  and
regulations  of  political  systems.  For  example,  the  authority  of  the
president of the United States  and  the  Congress  is  legitimized  by  the
American Constitution.  Generally,  in  societies  based  on  legal-rational
authority, leaders are conceived as servants of the  people.  They  are  not
viewed as having divine inspiration, as are the heads of  certain  societies
with traditional forms of authority The United States, as  a  society  which
values the rule  of  law,  has  legally  defined  limits  on  the  power  of
government. Power is assigned to positions, not to individuals.  Thus,  when
Ronald Reagan became president in early 1981, he assumed the  formal  powers
and duties of that office as specified by the  Constitution.  When  Reagans
presidency ended, those powers were transferred to his successor.
      If a president acts within the legitimate powers of  the  office,  but
not to our liking, we may wish to elect a new president.  But  we  will  not
normally argue that the presidents power is illegitimate.  However,  if  an
official clearly exceeds the power of an office, as  Richard  Nixon  did  by
obstructing justice during investigation  of  the  Watergate  burglary,  the
officials power may come to be seen as illegitimate. Moreover, as was  true
of Nixon, the person may be forced out of office.

Charismatic Authority

      Weber also observed that power can be legitimized by the  charisma  of
an  individual.  The  term  charismatic  authority  refers  to  power   made
legitimate by a leaders exceptional personal or emotional appeal to his  or
her followers. Charisma allows a person to lead or inspire  without  relying
on set rules or traditions. Interestingly, such authority  is  derived  more
from the beliefs of loyal  followers  than  from  the  actual  qualities  of
leaders. So long as people perceive the person as possessing qualities  that
set him or her apart from ordinary citizens,  the  leaders  authority  will
remain secure and often unquestioned.
      Political  scientist  Ann  Ruth  Willner  (1984)   notes   that   each
charismatic leader draws upon the  values,  beliefs,  and  traditions  of  a
particular society. The conspicuous sexual activity of  longtime  Indonesian
president Achmed Sukarno reminded his followers  of  the  gods  in  Japanese
legends and therefore was regarded as  a  sign  of  power  and  heroism.  By
contrast, Indians saw  Mahatma  Gandhis  celibacy  as  a  demonstration  of
superhuman self-discipline. Charismatic leaders  also  associate  themselves
with widely respected cultural and religious heroes. Willner  describes  how
Ayalollah Khomeini of Iran associated himself with Husein, a  Shiile  Muslim
martyr; and Fidel Castro of Cuba associated himself with Jesus Christ.
      Unlike traditional rulers, charismatic leaders often become well known
by breaking with established institutions and  advocating  dramatic  changes
in the social structure. The strong hold that  such  individuals  have  over
their followers makes it easier to build protest movements  which  challenge
the dominant norms and values of a society. Thus, charismatic  leaders  such
as Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King all  used  their  power  to
press for changes in accepted social behavior.  But  so  did  Adolf  Hitler,
whose charismatic appeal turned people toward violent and destructive ends.
      Since it rests on the  appeal  of  a  single  individual,  charismatic
authority is necessarily much  shorter  lived  than  either  traditional  or
legal-rational authority. As a result, charismatic leaders  may  attempt  to
solidify their positions of power by seeking other legitimating  mechanisms.
For example, Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959 as the leader  of  a
popular revolution. Yet in the decades which followed the seizure of  power,
Castro stood for  election  (without  opposition)  as  a  means  of  further
legitimating his authority as leader of Cuba.
      If such authority is to extend beyond the lifetime of the  charismatic
leader, it must undergo what Weber called the routinization  of  charismatic
authoritythe  process  by  which  the   leadership   qualities   originally
associated with an individual are incorporated into either a traditional  or
a legal-rational system. Thus, the charismatic authority of Jesus as  leader
of  the  Christian  church  was  transferred  to  the  apostle   Peter   and
subsequently to the various prelates (or popes)  of  the  faith.  Similarly,
the emotional  fervor  supporting  George  Washington  was  routinized  into
Americas constitutional system and the norm of a two-term presidency.  Once
routinization  has  taken  place,  authority  eventually  evolves   into   a
traditional or legal-rational form.
      As was noted earlier,  Weber  used  traditional,  legal-rational,  and
charismatic authority as ideal types. In  reality,  particular  leaders  and
political  systems  combine  elements  of  two  or  more  of  these   forms.
Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy wielded  power  largely
through the legal-rational basis of their authority. At the same time,  they
were unusually charismatic leaders who commanded (lie  personal  loyalty  of
large numbers of Americans.


      Each society establishes a political system by which it  is  governed.
In modern industrial nations, a significant  number  of  critical  political
decisions are made by formal  units  of  government.  Five  basic  types  of
government    are    considered:    monarchy,    oligarchy,    dictatorship,
totalitarianism, and democracy.


      A monarchy is a form of government headed by  a  single  member  of  a
royal family, usually a king, a queen, or some other  hereditary  ruler.  In
earlier times, many monarchs claimed that God  had  granted  them  a  divine
right to rule  their  lands.  Typically,  they  governed  on  the  basis  of
traditional forms of authority, although these  were  sometimes  accompanied
by the use of force. In the 1980s, monarchs hold genuine governmental  power
in only a few nations, such as Monaco. Most monarchs have  little  practical
power and primarily serve ceremonial purposes.


      An oligarchy is a form of government in which a few individuals  rule.
It is a rather old method of governing which flourished  in  ancient  Greece
and Egypt. Today, oligarchy often takes the form of military rule.  Some  of
the developing nations of Africa, Asia,  and  Latin  America  are  ruled  by
small factions of military officers who forcibly  seized  powereither  from
legally elected regimes or from other military cliques.
      Strictly speaking, the term oligarchy is reserved for governments  run
by a few select individuals. However, the  Soviet  Union  and  the  Peoples
Republic of China can be classified as oligarchies if we extend the  meaning
of the term somewhat. In each case, power rests in the  hands  of  a  ruling
groupthe Communist party. In a similar vein, drawing upon conflict  theory,
one may argue that many industrialized  'democratic'  nations  of  the  west
should  rightly  be  considered  oligarchies,  since  only  a  powerful  few
actually rule: leaders  of  big  business,  government,  and  the  military.
Later, we will examine this 'elite model' of the American  political  system
in greater detail.

Dictatorship and Totalitarianism

      A dictatorship is a government in which one person  has  nearly  total
power to make and enforce laws. Dictators rule primarily through the use  of
coercion, often including torture  and  executions.  Typically,  they  seize
power, rather than being freely elected (as in a democracy) or inheriting  a
position of power (as  is  true  of  monarchs).  Some  dictators  are  quite
charismatic and achieve a certain 'popularity,' though this popular  support
is almost certain to be intertwined with fear. Other dictators are  bitterly
hated by the populations over whom they rule with an iron hand.
      Frequently,  dictatorships  develop  such  overwhelming  control  over
peoples  lives  that  they  are   called   totalitarian.   Monarchies   and
oligarchies also have the potential  to  achieve  this  type  of  dominance.
Totalitarianism  involves  virtually  complete  governmental   control   and
surveillance over all aspects of social and political  life  in  a  society.
Bolt Nazi Germany under Hitler  and  the  Soviet  Union  of  the  1980s  are
classified as totalitarian states.
      Political scientists  Carl  Friedrich  and  Zbigniew  Brzezinski  have
identified six bask traits that typify totalitarian states. These include:

1. Large-scale use of ideology. Totalitarian  societies  offer  explanations
   for every part of life. Social goals, valued behaviors, even enemies  are
   conveyed in simple (and usually distorted) terms. For example, the  Nazis
   blamed Jews for almost every. thing wrong in Germany or other nations. If
   there was a crop failure due to drought, it was sure  to  be  seen  as  a
   Jewish conspiracy.
2. One-party systems. A totalitarian Style  has  only  one  legal  political
   party, which monopolizes the offices of  government.  It  penetrates  and
   controls all social institutions and serves  as  the  source  of  wealth,
   prestige, and power.
3. Control of weapons. Totalitarian states also monopolize the use of  arms.
   All military units art subject to the control of the ruling regime.
4. Terror. Totalitarian states often rely on general intimidation  (such  as
   prohibiting unapproved publications) and individual  deterrent  (such  as
   torture and execution) to maintain  control  (Bahry  and  Silver,  1987).
   Alexander Solzhenitsyns Gulag Archipelago  (1973)  describe  the  Soviet
   Unions imprisonment of political dissenters in mental  hospitals,  where
   they are subjected to drug and electric shock treatments.
5. Control of the media. There is no 'opposition press'  in  a  totalitarian
   state. The media  communicate  official  interpretations  of  events  and
   reinforce behaviors and policies favored by the regime.
6. Control of the economy. Totalitarian states control major sectors of  the
   economy. They may dissolve private ownership of industry and  even  small
   farms. In some cases, the central state establishes production goals  for
   each industrial and agricultural unit. The revolt of the Polish  workers
   union. Solidarity, in the early 1980s was  partly  directed  against  the
   governments  power  over  production  quotas,  working  conditions,  and

      Through   such   methods,   totalitarian   governments   deny   people
representation in the political, economic, and social decisions that  affect
their  lives.  Such  governments  have  pervasive  control   over   peoples


      In a literal sense, democracy means government by the people. The word
democracy originated in two Greek rootsdemos,  meaning  'the  populace'  or
'the common people'; and  kratia,  meaning  'rule.'  Of  course,  in  large,
populous nations, government  by  all  the  people  is  impractical  at  the
national level. It would  be  impossible  for  the  more  than  246  million
Americans to vote on every  important  issue  that  comes  before  Congress.
Consequently,  democracies  are  generally  maintained  through  a  mode  of
participation  known  as  representative   democracy,   in   which   certain
individuals are selected to speak for the people.
      The  United  States  is  commonly  classified  as   a   representative
democracy, since we elect members of  Congress  and  state  legislatures  to
handle the task of writing our laws. However, critics  have  questioned  how
representative our democracy is. Are the masses  genuinely  represented?  Is
there authentic self-government in the United States or  merely  competition
between powerful elites?
      Clearly, citizens cannot be effectively represented if  they  are  not
granted the right to vote. Yet our nation did not  enfranchise  black  males
until 1870, and women were not allowed to  vote  in  presidential  elections
until 1920. American  Indians  were  allowed  to  become  citizens  (thereby
qualifying to vote)  only  in  1924,  and  as  late  as  1956,  some  states
prevented  Indians  from  voting  in  local  elections  if  they  lived   on
      Unlike monarchies, oligarchies, and dictatorships, the democratic form
of  government  implies  an  opposition  which  is  tolerated  or,   indeed,
encouraged to exist. In the United  States,  we  have  two  major  political
partiesthe Democrats and Republicansas  well  as  various  minor  parties.
Sociologists use the term political party to refer to an organization  whose
purposes are to promote candidates for elected office, advance  an  ideology
as reflected in positions on political issues, win elections,  and  exercise
power. Whether a democracy has  two  major  political  parties  (as  in  the
United States) or  incorporates  a  multiparty  system  (as  in  France  and
Israel), it will typically stress the need for differing points of view.
      Seymour Martin Upset,  among  other  sociologists,  has  attempted  to
identify the factors which may help  to  bring  about  democratic  forms  of
government. He argues that a high level of economic  development  encourages
both stability and democracy. Upset reached this conclusion  after  studying
50 nations and finding a high correlation between economic  development  and
certain forms of government.
      Why should there be such a link? In a society with  a  high  level  of
development, the population generally tends to  be  urbanized  and  literate
and is better equipped to participate in decision making and make the  views
of its members heard. In addition, as Upset suggests, a relatively  affluent
society will be comparatively free from demands on government by  low-income
citizens. Poor people in  such  nations  can  reasonably  aspire  to  upward
mobility. Therefore, along with the large middle class  typically  found  in
industrial societies, the poorer segments of society may  have  a  stake  in
economic and political stability.
      Upsets formulation has been attacked by conflict theorists, who  tend
to be critical of the distribution of power within democracies. As  we  will
see later, many conflict theorists believe that the United States is run  by
a small economic and political elite. At the same time,  they  observe  that
economic stability does  not  necessarily  promote  or  guarantee  political
freedoms. Lipset (1972) himself agrees that democracy  in  practice  is  far
from ideal  and  that  one  must  distinguish  between  varying  degrees  of
democracy in democratic systems of government. Thus, we cannot  assume  that
a high level  of  economic  development  or  the  self-proclaimed  label  of
'democracy' assures freedom and adequate political representation.


      As American citizens we take for granted many aspects of our political
system. We are accustomed to living in a nation with a Bill of  Rights,  two
major political parties, voting by  secret  ballot,  an  elected  president,
state and local governments distinct from the national  government,  and  so
forth. Yet, of course, each society has its own  ways  of  governing  itself
and  making  decisions.  Just  as  we  expect  Democratic   and   Republican
candidates to compete for public offices, residents of the Soviet Union  are
accustomed to the domination of the Communist party.  In  this  section,  we
will examine a number of important aspects of political behavior within  the
United States.

Political Socialization

      Five functional prerequisites that a society must fulfill in order  to
survive were identified. Among these was  the  need  to  teach  recruits  to
accept the values and customs of the  group.  In  a  political  sense,  this
function is crucial;  each  succeeding  generation  must  be  encouraged  to
accept a societys basic political values  and  its  particular  methods  of
decision making.
      Political socialization is the process by  which  individuals  acquire
political  attitudes  and  develop  patterns  of  political  behavior.  This
involves not only learning the prevailing beliefs  of  a  society  but  also
coming to accept the surrounding political system  despite  its  limitations
and  problems.  In  the  United  States,  people  are  socialized  to   view
representative democracy as the best form of government and to cherish  such
values as freedom, equality, patriotism, and the right of dissent.
      The principal institutions of political socialization are those  which
also socialize us to other cultural  normsincluding  the  family,  schools,
and the media. Many observers see  the  family  as  playing  a  particularly
significant role in this process.  'The  family  incubates  political  man,'
observed political scientist Robert Lane. In fact,  parents  pass  on  their
political attitudes and evaluations to  their  sons  and  daughters  through
discussions at the dinner table  and  also  through  the  example  of  their
political  involvement  or  apathy.  Early  socialization  does  not  always
determine a persons political orientation; there are changes over time  and
between generations. Yet research on political  socialization  continues  to
show that parents views  have  an  important  impact  on  their  childrens
      The schools can be influential in political socialization, since  they
provide young people with information and analysis of the  political  world.
Unlike the family  and  peer  groups,  schools  are  easily  susceptible  to
centralized  and  uniform  control;  consequently,  totalitarian   societies
commonly use educational institutions for purposes of  indoctrination.  Yet,
even in democracies,  where  local  schools  are  not  under  the  pervasive
control of the  national  government,  political  education  will  generally
reflect the norms and values of the prevailing political order.
      In the view of conflict theorists, American students learn  much  more
than factual information about our political and economic way of life.  They
are socialized to  view  capitalism  and  representative  democracy  as  the
'normal' and most desirable ways of organizing a nation. At the  same  time,
competing values and forms of government  are  often  presented  in  a  most
negative fashion or are ignored. From a conflict perspective, this  type  of
political education serves the interests of the  powerful  and  ignores  the
significance of the social divisions found within the United States.
      It is difficult to pinpoint  a  precise  time  in  which  politics  is
learned. Fred Greenstein argues that the crucial time in  a  young  persons
psychological, social, and political development is between ages 9  and  13.
In the same vein, one study found that children 13 and 14 years of age  were
much more able to understand abstract political concepts than were  children
a few years younger. Specifically, in  response  to  a  question  about  the
meaning of government, older children  tended  to  identify  with  Congress,
whereas younger children identified with a more personal figure such as  the
president.  Other  research,  however,  points  to  a  significant  leap  in
political sophistication during the ages of 13 to 15.
      Surprisingly, expression of a preference for a political  party  often
comes before young  people  have  a  full  understanding  of  the  political
system. Surveys indicate that 65 to 75 percent of children aged  10  and  11
express commitment to a specific political label,  including  'independent.'
Political scientists M. Kent Jennings  and  Richard  G.  Niemi  (1974)  have
found that children who demonstrate high levels of  political  competenceby
understanding the differences between political parties and between  liberal
and conservative philosophiesare more likely to become  politically  active
during adulthood.
      Like the family and schools, the mass media can have  obvious  effects
on peoples thinking and political behavior.  Beginning  with  the  Kennedy-
Nixon  presidential  debates  of  1960,  television  has  given   increasing
exposure to political candidates. One result has been the rising  importance
of politicians 'images' as perceived by the American  public.  Today,  many
speeches given by our  nations  leaders  are  designed  not  for  immediate
listeners, but for the larger television  audience.  In  the  social  policy
section later,  we  will  examine  the  impact  of  television  on  American
political campaigns.
      Although television has obvious impact on elective  politics,  it  has
also become an important factor  in  other  aspects  of  American  political
life. In 1987, when a joint congressional committee held televised  hearings
on the Iran-contra scandal,  Lieutenant  Colonel  Oliver  Norths  outspoken
testimony brought him a wave of public support.  One  effect  of  his  media
success, though primarily in the short run, was an increase in  support  for
the 'contras' and their effort to overthrow Nicaraguas Marxist  regime.  By
contrast.  Judge  Robert  Borks  televised  testimony  before  the   Senate
Judiciary  Committee  in  1987  seemed  to  hurt  his  chances  of   winning
confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.
      A number of communication studies have reported that the media do  not
tend  to  influence  the  masses  of  people  directly.  Elihu  Katz  (1957)
describes the  process  as  a  two-step  flow  of  communication,  using  an
approach  which   reflects   interactionists   emphasis   on   the   social
significance of everyday social exchanges. In Katzs view,  messages  passed
through the media first reach a small number of opinion  leaders,  including
teachers, religious authorities,  and  community  activists.  These  leaders
'spread the word' to others over whom they have influence.
      Opinion leaders are not necessarily formal leaders of organized groups
of people. For example, someone who hears  a  disturbing  report  about  the
dangers of radioactive wastes in a nearby river will  probably  tell  family
members and friends. Each of these  persons  may  inform  still  others  and
perhaps persuade them to support the position of an  environmentalist  group
working to clean up the river. Of course, in any communications  process  in
which someone plays an intermediate role, the message can be  reinterpreted.
Opinion leaders can subtly transform a political message to their own ends.

Participation and Apathy

      In theory, a representative democracy will function  most  effectively
and fairly if there is an informed and active electorate  communicating  its
views to government leaders. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case  in  the
United States. Virtually all Americans are familiar with the basics  of  the
political process,  and  most  tend  to  identify  to  some  extent  with  a
political party, but only a small minority  (often  members  of  the  higher
social classes) actually participate in political organizations on  a  local
or national level. Studies reveal that only 8 percent  of  Americans  belong
to a political club or organization. Not more than  one  in  five  has  ever
contacted an official of  national,  state,  or  local  government  about  a
political issue or problem.
      The failure of most Americans to become involved in political  parties
has serious implications for the functioning of our  democracy.  Within  the
political system of the United States, the  political  party  serves  as  an
intermediary  between  people  and  government.   Through   competition   in
regularly scheduled elections, the two-party system provides for  challenges
to public policies and for an  orderly  transfer  of  power.  An  individual
dissatisfied with the state of the nation or a local  community  can  become
involved in the political party process in many ways, such as by  joining  a
political club, supporting candidates  for  public  office,  or  working  to
change the partys position on controversial issues. If, however, people  do
not take interest in  the  decisions  of  major  political  parties,  public
officials  in  a  'representative'  democracy  will  be  chosen   from   two
unrepresentative lists of candidates. In the  1980s,  it  has  become  clear
that many
      Americans are turned off by political parties,  politicians,  and  the
specter of big government. The most  dramatic  indication  of  this  growing
alienation comes from voting  statistics.  Voters  of  all  ages  and  races
appear to be less enthusiastic than  ever  about  American  elections,  even
presidential contests. For example, almost 80 percent of  eligible  American
voters went to the polls in the presidential election of 1896. Yet,  by  the
1984 election, voter turnout had fallen to  less  than  60  percent  of  all
adults. By contrast, elections during the first half of  the  1980s  brought
out 85 percent or more of the voting-age  population  in  Austria,  Belgium,
Italy, Portugal, and Sweden.
      Declining political participation allows institutions of government to
operate with less of a sense of accountability to  society.  This  issue  is
most serious for the least powerful individual and groups within the  United
States. Voter turn out has been particularly  low  among  younger  Americans
and members of racial and ethnic minorities. In 1984,  only  36  percent  of
eligible  voters  aged  18  to  20  went  to  the  polls.  According  to   a
postelection survey, only 55.8 percent of eligible  black  voters  and  32.6
percent of Hispanic reported that they had  actually  voted.  Moreover,  the
poorwhose focus understandably  is  on  survivalare  traditionally  under-
represented among voters as well. The low turnout found among  these  groups
is explained, at least in part, by their common  feeling  of  powerlessness.
Yet such voting statistics encourage political power brokers to continue  to
ignore the interests of the young,  the  less  affluent,  and  the  nations
      Sociologist  Anthony  Orum  notes  that  people  are  more  likely  to
participate actively in political life if they have  a  sense  of  political
efficacythat is, if they feel that  they  have  (he  ability  to  influence
politicians and the political order. In addition, citizens are  more  likely
to become  involved  if  they  trust  political  leaders  or  feel  that  an
organized political party represents their interest.  Without  question,  in
an age marked by the rise of big government and by revelations of  political
corruption at the highest levels, many Americans of all social  groups  feel
powerless and distrustful. Yet such feelings are  especially  intense  among
the young, the poor, and  minorities.  is  a  result,  many  view  political
participation, including voting, as a waste of time.
      Cross-national comparisons,  while  confirming  he  comparatively  low
level of voting in the linked States, also suggest that Americans  are  more
likely than citizens of other nations to be active at the  community  level,
to contact local officials on behalf of themselves or others,  and  to  have
worked for a political party. Perhaps this contrast reflects how unusual  it
is for people to be directly involved in national political decision  making
in the modem world. Nevertheless, it is possible to speculate that  if  tens
of millions of Americans did not stay home  on  Election  Day  and  instead
became more active  in  the  nations  political  lifethe  outcome  of  the
political process might be somewhat different.

Women and Politics

      In  1984,  American  women   achieved   an   unprecedented   political
breakthrough when Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New  York  became  the
Democratic nominee for vice president of the  United  States.  Never  before
had a woman received the nomination of a major party for such high office.
      Nevertheless, women continue to be  dramatically  underrepresented  in
the halls of government. In 1988, there were  only  23  women  (out  of  435
members) in the House of Representatives  and  only  2  women  (out  of  100
members)  in  the  Senate.  This  is  not  because  women  have  failed   to
participate actively in political life. Eligible women vote  at  a  slightly
higher rate than men. The League of Women Voters,  founded  in  1920,  is  a
nonpartisan organization which performs valuable functions in educating  the
electorate of both  sexes.  Perhaps  the  most  visible  role  of  women  in
American  politics  is  as  unpaid  workers  for  male  candidates:  ringing
doorbells,  telephoning  registered  voters,  and  carrying  petitions.   In
addition, wives  of  elected  male  politicians  commonly  play  significant
supportive roles and are increasingly speaking out in  their  own  right  on
important and controversial issues of public policy.
      The sexism of American society has been the most  serious  barrier  to
women interested in holding public office. Female  candidates  have  had  to
overcome the prejudices of both men and women regarding womens fitness  for
leadership. Not until 1955 did a  majority  of  Americans  state  that  they
would vote for a qualified woman for president.  Yet,  as  a  1984  national
survey revealed, Americans say they will support a woman running for  office
only if she is by far the most qualified candidate.
      Moreover, women often encounter prejudice, discrimination,  and  abuse
after they are elected. In 1979, a questionnaire was circulated  among  male
legislators in Oregon, asking them  to  'categorize  the  lady  legislators'
with such labels as 'mouth, face, chest/dress, and so forth'.
      Despite such  indignities,  women  are  becoming  more  successful  in
winning election to public office. For example, there  were  1176  women  in
state legislatures in 1988, as compared with only 31 in  1921,144  in  1941,
and 301 in 1969. Not only are more women being elected;  more  of  them  are
identifying themselves as feminists. The traditional woman in  politics  was
a widow who took office after her husbands death to continue his  work  and
policies. However, women being elected in the 1980s are much more likely  to
view politics as their own career rather  than  as  an  afterthought.  These
trends are not restricted to the United States.
      A new dimension of women and politics emerged in  the  1980s.  Surveys
detected a growing 'gender gap' in the political preferences and  activities
of males and females. Women were more likely to register as  Democrats  than
as  Republicans  and  were  also  more  critical  of  the  policies  of  the
Republican administration. What accounts for this  'gender  gap'?  According
to political analysts, the Democratic  partys  continued  support  for  the
equal rights amendment may be attracting women voters, a  majority  of  whom
support this measure. At the same time, virtually all polling data  indicate
that women are substantially less likely than men  to  favor  large  defense
budgets and military intervention overseas; these policies have become  more
associated with the Republican party of the 1980s than with the Democrats.
      Politicians have begun to watch  carefully  the  voting  trends  among
women, since women voters  could  prove  decisive  in  dose  elections.  The
gender gap did appear to be a factor in the  1984  electionsthough  not  as
significant a factor as some observers had expected. According to a poll  by
ABC News,  men  supported  President  Ronald  Reagans  successful  bid  for
reelection by a margin of 63 to 36  percent.  By  contrast,  56  percent  of
women voted for Reagan while 44 percent supported the Democratic  ticket  of
Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. In the 1986 elections, the  ender  gap
narrowed  somewhat,  yet  apparently  contributed  to   the   victories   of
Democratic senatorial candidates in at least nine states, four  of  them  in
the south. For example, in Colorado, men  supported  Republican  Ken  Kramer
over Democrat Timothy Wirth by a 49 to 48  percent  margin,  yet  Wirth  was
elected because women preferred him  by  a  53  to  44  percent  margin.  By
contributing to these Democratic victories, women voters were  an  important
factor in the partys 1986 takeover of e Senate.

Interest Groups

      This  discussion  of  political  behavior  has  focused  primarily  on
individual participation  (and  non-participation)  in  the  decision-making
processes of  government  and  on  involvement  in  the  nations  political
parties. However, there are other important ways that American citizens  can
play a role in the nations political arena.  Because  of  common  needs  or
common frustrations, people may band together in social  movements  such  as
the civil rights movement of the 1960s or the  anti-nuclear  power  movement
of the 1980s. Americans can also influence  the  political  process  through
membership in interest groups (some of  which,  in  fact,  may  be  part  of
larger social movements).
      An interest group is a voluntary association of citizens  who  attempt
to influence public policy. The National Organization  for  Women  (NOW)  is
considered an interest group, so, too, are the Juvenile Diabetes  Foundation
and the National Rifle Association (NRA). Such groups are a  vital  part  of
the  American  political  process  Many  interest  groups  (often  known  as
lobbies) are national in scope and address a wide variety of  political  and
social issues  As  we  saw  earlier,  groups  such  as  the  American  Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU), Common Cause, the American Conservative  Union,  and
Christian  Voice  were  all  actively  involved  in  the  debate  over   the
nomination of Judge Robert Bork for the Supreme Court.
      Typically, we think of interest groups as  being  primarily  concerned
with regulatory legislation However,  as  political  scientist  Barbara  Ann
Stolz (1981) points out, even the federal criminal code has become a  target
for interest-group activity  Business  groups  have  sought  to  strike  the
'reckless endangerment' provision that, in effect, makes it a  crime  for  a
business to engage knowingly in conduct that  will  imperil  someones  life
Business interests have also attempted  to  broaden  the  criminal  code  to
include certain  types  of  incidents  that  occur  during  labor  disputes,
unions, by contrast, wish to maintain current laws.
      Interest  groups  often   pursue   their   political   goals   through
lobbyingthe process  by  which  individuals  and  groups  communicate  with
public officials in order to influence decisions of  government.  They  also
distribute persuasive literature and launch  publicity  campaigns  to  build
grass  roots  support  for  their  political  objectives  Finally,  interest
groups,  through  their  political  action  committees,  donate   funds   to
political candidates whose views are in line with  the  groups  legislative
      The role of interest groups within the American political  system  has
generated intense controversy, particularly because of the special  relation
ships that exist between government officials  and  lobbyists  for  interest
groups The widespread nature of these ties is evident  from  the  number  of
former legislators who,  after  retiring  or  losing  bids  for  reelection,
immediately go on the payroll of interest groups In  1985,  there  were  300
former lawmakers and  former  high-level  White  House  officials  parlaying
their governmental experience into  profitable  new  careers  as  Washington
lawyers, lobbyists, consultants, and administrators  So  pervasive  is  this
network of insiders that an organization. Former Members of Congress,  links
them together Currently, there are no laws preventing  members  of  Congress
from returning as lobbyists to reshape (or even dismantle) legislation  that
they created in the public interest.
      Interest groups are  occasionally  referred  to  as  pressure  groups,
implying that they attempt to force their will on a resistant public In  the
view of functionalists, such groups play a  constructive  role  in  decision
making by allowing orderly expression of public opinion  and  by  increasing
political participation They also provide legislators with a useful flow  of
      Conflict theorists stress that although a very few organizations  work
on behalf of the poor  and  disadvantaged,  most  American  interest  groups
represent affluent white professionals and business leaders From a  conflict
perspective, the overwhelming political  clout  of  these  powerful  lobbies
discourages participation by  the  individual  citizen  and  raises  serious
questions about who actually rules a supposedly democratic nation.


      Who really holds power in  the  United  States  Do  'we  the  people'
genuinely run the country  through  elected  representatives?  Or  is  there
small elite of Americans that governs behind the scenes? It is difficult  to
determine the location of power in a society as complex as the Unite  States
In exploring this critical question, social scientists  have  developed  two
basic views of our nations power structure the elite and pluralism models.

Elite Model

      Karl Marx essentially believed that nineteenth century  representative
democracy was a shape.
      He argued that industrial societies were dominated by relatively small
numbers of people who owned factories and controlled  natural  resources  In
Marxs view, government officials  and  military  leaders  were  essentially
servants of the capitalist class and followed their  wishes  therefore,  any
key decisions made by politicians inevitably reflected the interests of  the
dominant  bourgeoisie  Like  others  who  hold  an  elite  model  of   power
relations, Marx thus believed that society is ruled  by  a  small  group  of
individuals who share a common set of political and economic interests.
      The Power Elite. In his pioneering work. The Power Elite,  sociologist
C. Wright  Mills  described  the  existence  of  a  small  ruling  elite  of
military, industrial, and governmental leaders who controlled  the  fate  of
the United States. Power rested in the hands  of  a  few,  both  inside  and
outside of governmentthe power elite. In Mills words:
      The power elite is composed of men  whose  positions  enable  them  to
transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women, they  are  in
positions to make  decisions  having  major  consequences.    They  arc  in
command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society.
      In Millss model, the power structure of  the  United  States  can  be
illustrated by the use of a pyramid. At the  top  are  the  corporate  rich,
leaders of the executive branch of government, and  heads  of  the  military
(whom Kills  called  the  'warlords').  Below  this  triumvirate  are  local
opinion leaders, members  of  the  legislative  branch  of  government,  and
leaders of special-interest groups. Mills contended  that  such  individuals
and groups would basically follow the wishes of the  dominant  power  elite.
At the bottom of society are the unorganized, exploited masses.
      This power elite model is, in many respects, similar to  the  work  of
Karl Marx. The  most  striking  difference  is  that  Mills  felt  that  the
economically powerful coordinate  their  maneuvers  with  the  military  and
political establishments in order to  serve  their  mutual  interests.  Yet,
reminiscent of Marx. Mills argued that the corporate rich were  perhaps  the
most powerful element of the power elite (first  among  'equals').  And,  of
course, there is a further dramatic  parallel  between  the  work  of  these
conflict theorists The powerless masses  at  the  bottom  of  Millss  power
elite model certainly  bring  to  mind  Marxs  portrait  of  the  oppressed
workers of the world, who have 'nothing to lose but their chains'.
      Mills failed to provide detailed case studies which would substantiate
the  interrelationship  among  members  of  the  power  elite.  Instead,  he
suggested that such foreign policy decisions as  Americas  entry  into  the
Korean war reflected a determination by business and military  leaders  that
each could benefit from such  armed  conflict.  In  Mills  s  view,  such  a
sharing of perspectives was  facilitated  by  the  frequent  interchange  of
commanding roles among the elite. For example, a  banker  might  become  the
leader   of   a   federal   regulatory   commission   overseeing   financial
institutions, and a retired general might  move  to  an  executive  position
with a major defense contracting firm.
      A fundamental element in Millss thesis is that the  power  elite  not
only has relatively few members  but  also  operates  as  a  self-conscious,
cohesive unit. Although not necessarily diabolical or  ruthless,  the  elite
comprises similar types of people who regularly interact  with  one  another
and have essentially the same  political  and  economic  interests.  Millss
power elite is not a conspiracy but  rather  a  community  of  interest  and
sentiment among a small number of influential Americans.
      Admittedly, Mills failed to clarify when the elite acts  and  when  it
tolerates protests. Nevertheless, his challenging theories  forced  scholars
to look more critically at the 'democratic' political system of  the  United
      The Ruling Class. Sociologist G. William  Domhoff  agreed  with  Mills
that American society is run by a powerful elite.  But,  rather  than  fully
accepting Millss power elite model, Domhoff argued that the  United  States
is controlled by a social upper class 'that is a ruling class by  virtue  of
its dominant role in the economy and  government'.  This  socially  cohesive
ruling class owns 20 to 25 percent of all privately held wealth  and  45  to
50 percent of all privately held common stock.
      Unlike Mills, Domhoff was quite specific about  who  belongs  to  this
social  upper  class.  Membership  comes  through  being  pan  of  a  family
recognized in The Social Registerthe directory of the social elite in  many
American cities. Attendance at prestigious private  schools  and  membership
in exclusive social clubs are further indications that a person  comes  from
Americas social upper class. Domhoff estimates that about  0.5  percent  of
the American population (or 1 of every 200 people) belongs  to  this  social
and political elite.
      Of course, this would mean that the  ruling  class  has  more  than  1
million members  and  could  hardly  achieve  the  cohesiveness  that  Mills
attributed to the power elite. However, Domhoff adds that the  social  upper
class as a whole does not rule the nation. Instead, members  of  this  class
who have assumed leadership roles within  the  corporate  community  or  the
nations policy-planning network join with high-level employees  of  profit-
making and nonprofit institutions controlled by the social  upper  class  to
exercise power.
      In  Domhoffs  view,  the  ruling  class  should  not  be  seen  in  a
conspiratorial way, as 'sinister men lurking  behind  the  throne.'  On  the
contrary they tend  to  hold  public  positions  of  authority.  Almost  all
important appointive government posts  including  those  of  diplomats  and
cabinet membersare filled by members of the  social  upper  class.  Domhoff
contends  that  members  of  this  class  dominate  powerful   corporations,
foundations, universities, and the  executive  branch  of  government.  They
control presidential nominations and the  political  party  process  through
campaign contributions. In addition, the ruling class exerts  a  significant
(though not absolute) influence within  Congress  and  units  of  state  and
local government.
      Perhaps the major difference between the elite  models  of  Mills  and
Domhoff is that Mills insisted on the relative  autonomy  of  the  political
elite and attached great  significance  to  the  independent  power  of  the
military. By contrast,  Domhoff  suggests  that  high-level  government  and
military leaders serve  the  interests  of  the  social  upper  class.  Both
theorists, in line with  a  Marxian  approach,  assume  that  the  rich  are
interested  only  in  what  benefits  them  financially.   Furthermore,   as
advocates of elite models of power. Mills and Domhoff argue that the  masses
of American people have no real influence on the decisions of the powerful.
      One criticism of the elite  model  is  that  its  advocates  sometimes
suggest that elites are always victorious. With this  in  mind,  sociologist
J. Alien Whitt (1982) examined the efforts of Californias  business  elites
to support urban mass transit. He found that lobbying by  these  elites  was
successful in San Francisco but failed in  Los  Angeles.  Whitt  points  out
that opponents of policies backed by elites can  mobilize  to  thwart  their
      Domhoff admits that the ruling class does not exercise  total  control
over American society. However, he counters that this elite is able  to  set
political  terms  under  which  other  groups  and  classes  must   operate.
Consequently, although the ruling class may lose on a particular  issue,  it
will not allow serious challenges  to  laws  which  guarantee  its  economic
privileges and political domination.

Pluralist Model

      Several social scientists have questioned the elite  models  of  power
relations proposed by Marx, Mills, Domhoff, and  other  conflict  theorists.
Quite simply, the critics insist that power in the  United  States  is  more
widely shared than the elite model indicates. In  their  view,  a  pluralist
model more accurately describes the American political system. According  to
the pluralist model, 'many conflicting  groups  within  the  community  have
access to government officials and compete with one another in an effort  to
influence policy decisions'.
      Veto Groups. David Riesmans  The  Lonely  Crowd  suggested  that  the
American political system could best be understood  through  examination  of
the power of veto groups. The term veto groups  refers  to  interest  groups
that have  the  capacity  to  prevent  the  exercise  of  power  by  others.
Functionally, they serve to increase political participation  by  preventing
the concentration of political power.  Examples  cited  by  Riesman  include
farm groups, labor unions, professional associations, and racial and  ethnic
groups. Whereas Mills pointed to the dangers  of  rule  by  an  undemocratic
power elite, Riesman insisted that veto groups  could  effectively  paralyze
the nations political processes by blocking anyone from  exercising  needed
leadership functions. In Riesmans words,  'The  only  leaders  of  national
scope left in the United States are those who can placate the veto groups'.
      Dahls Study of  Pluralism.  Community  studies  of  power  have  also
supported the pluralist model. One of the most  famousan  investigation  of
decision making in New Haven, Connecticutwas reported  by  Robert  Dahl  in
his book, Who Governs? (1961). Dahl found that while the  number  of  people
involved in any important decision was rather  small,  community  power  was
nonetheless diffuse. Few political actors  exercised  decision-making  power
on all issues. Therefore, one individual or group might be influential in  a
battle over urban renewal but at the same  time  might  have  little  impact
over educational policy. Several other studies of local  politics,  in  such
communities as Chicago and Oberlin, Ohio, further document  that  monolithic
power structures do not operate on the level of local government.
      Just  as  the  elite  model  has  been  challenged  on  political  and
methodological grounds, the pluralist model has been  subjected  to  serious
questioning. Domhoff (1978) reexamined Dahls study of  decision  making  in
New Haven and argued that Dahl and other pluralists had failed to trace  how
local elites prominent in decision making were part  of  a  larger  national
ruling class. In addition, studies of community power, such as  Dahls  work
in New Haven, can examine decision making only on issues  which  become  pan
of the political agenda. This focus fails to address the possible  power  of
elites to keep certain matters entirely  out  of  the  realm  of  government
debate. Conflict theorists contend that these  elites  will  not  allow  any
outcome of the political process which threatens  their  dominance.  Indeed,
they may even be strong enough to  block  discussion  of  such  measures  by

Who Does Rule?

      Without question, the  pluralist  and  elite  models  have  little  in
common. Each describes a dramatically different distribution of power,  with
sharply contrasting consequences for society. Is there any way that  we  can
reconcile the vast disagreements in these two approaches?
      Perhaps we  can  conclude  that,  despite  their  apparent  points  of
incompatibility,  each  model  offers  an  accurate  picture   of   American
political life. Power in various areas rests in the hands of a small  number
of citizens who are well-insulated  from  the  will  of  the  masses  (elite
view). Yet there are  so  many  diverse  issues  and  controversies  in  the
nations political institutions that few individuals or groups  consistently
exercise power outside their distinctive  spheres  of  influence  (pluralist
view). Even presidents of the United  States  have  acknowledged  that  they
felt more comfortable making decisions either in the area of foreign  policy
(Richard Nixon)  or  in  the  area  of  domestic  policy  (Lyndon  Johnson).
Moreover, the post-World War II period has seen increasing power  vested  in
the  federal  government  (elite  model).  But,  even  within  the   federal
bureaucracy, there are a staggering number of agencies with differing  ideas
and interests (pluralist model).
      We can end this discussion with the one common point of the elite  and
pluralist perspectives power in the American political system is  unequally
distributed. All citizens may be equal in theory,  yet  those  high  in  the
nations power structure are 'more equal.'


      Each society must have a political system in order to have  recognized
procedures for the allocation of valued resourcesin  Harold  D.  Lasswells
terms, for deciding who gets what, when, and how. We have  examined  various
types of political authority  and  forms  of  government  and  explores  the
dimensions of the American political system.

1. Power relations can involve large organizations, small  groups,  or  even
   individuals in an intimate relationship.
2. There are three basic sources of power  within  any  political  system  
   force, influence, and authority.
3. Max  Weber  provided  (  e  of  the  most  useful  and  frequently  cited
   contributions of early sociology by  identifying  three  ideal  types  of
   authority: traditional, legal-rational, and charismatic.
4. The United States, as a  society  which  values  the  role  of  law,  has
   legally defined limits on the power of government.
5. In the 1980s, monarchies hold genuine governmental power in  only  a  few
   nations of the world.
6. Today, oligarchy often takes the form  of  military  rule,  although  the
   Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic  of  China  can  be  described  as
   oligarchies in which power rests in the hands  of  the  ruling  Communist
7.  Political  scientists  Carl  Friedrich  and  Zbigniew  Brzezinski   have
   identified six basic traits that typify totalitarianism: large-scale  use
   of ideology, one-party systems, control of weapons,  terror,  control  of
   the media, and control of the economy.
8. The United States is commonly classified as a  representative  democracy,
   since we elect members of Congress and state legislatures to  handle  the
   task of writing our laws.
9. The principal institutions of political socialization m American  society
   arc the family, schools, and media.
10. Only a small minority of Americans  actually  participate  in  political
   organizations or in decision making on a local or national level.
11. Women are  becoming  more  successful  at  winning  election  to  public
12. An interest group a often national in scope and frequently  addresses  a
   wide variety of social and political issues.
13. Advocates of the elite model of the American  power  structure  see  the
   nation as being ruled by a small group of individuals  who  share  common
   political and economic interests, whereas advocates of a pluralist  model
   believe that power is more widely shared among conflicting groups.
14. Television is having a growing impact on American political campaigns.


      Authority Power that has been institutionalized and is  recognized  by
the people over whom it is exercised.
      Charismatic authority Max Webers term for power made legitimate by  a
leaders exceptional personal or emotional appeal to his or her followers.
      Democracy In a literal sense, government by the people.
      Dictatorship A government in which one person has nearly  total  power
to make and enforce laws.
      Dictatorship of the proletariat Marxs term for the temporary rule  by
the  working  class  during  a  stage  between  the  successful  proletarian
revolution and the establishment of a classless communist society.
      Elite model A view of society as ruled by a small group of individuals
who share a common set of political and economic interests.
      Force The actual or threatened use of coercion to impose ones will on
      Influence The exercise of power through a process of persuasion.
      Interest group A voluntary association  of  citizens  who  attempt  to
influence public policy.
      Legal-rational authority Max Webers term for power made legitimate by
      Legitimacy The belief of a citizenry that a government has  the  right
to rule and that a citizen  ought  to  obey  the  rules  and  laws  of  that
      Lobbying The process by which individuals and groups communicate  with
public officials in order to influence decisions of government.
      Marital power A term used by Blood and Wolfe to describe the manner in
which decision making is distributed within families.
      Monarchy A form of government headed by a single  member  of  a  royal
family, usually a king, a queen, or some other hereditary ruler.
      Oligarchy A form of government in which a few individuals rule.
      Pluralist model A view of society in  which  many  conflicting  groups
within a community have access to governmental officials  and  compete  with
one another in an attempt to influence policy decisions.
      Political action committee (PAC) A political committee established  by
a  national  bank,  corporation,  trade  association,  or   cooperative   or
membership association to accept voluntary contributions for  candidates  or
political parties.
      Political efficacy The feeling that one has the ability  to  influence
politicians and the political order.
      Political  party  An  organization  whose  purposes  are  to   promote
candidates for public office, advance an ideology as reflected in  positions
on public issues, win elections, and exercise power.
      Political socialization  The  process  by  which  individuals  acquire
political attitudes and develop patterns of political behavior.
      Political system A recognized set of procedures for  implementing  and
obtaining the goals of a group.
      Politics In Harold D. Lasswells words, 'who gets what, when, how.'
      Power The ability to exercise ones will over others.
      Power elite A term used by C.  Wright  Mills  for  a  small  group  of
military, industrial, and government leaders who control  the  fate  of  the
United States.
      Pressure groups A term sometimes used to refer to interest groups.
      Representative  democracy  A  form  of  government  in  which  certain
individuals are selected to speak for the people.
      Routinization of  charismatic  authority  Max  Webers  term  for  the
process by which the leadership  qualities  originally  associated  with  an
individual are incorporated into either a traditional  or  a  legal-rational
system of authority.
      Terrorism The use or threat of violence  against  random  or  symbolic
targets in pursuit of political aims.
      Totalitarianism Virtually complete government control and surveillance
over all aspects of social and political life in a society. (390)
      Traditional  authority  Legitimate  power  conferred  by  custom   and
accepted practice.
      Two-step flow of communication Elihu Katzs term for a process through
which  a  message  is  spread  by  the  media  to  opinion  leaders  and  is
subsequently passedi along to the general public.
      Veto groups David Riesmans term for interest  groups  that  have  the
capacity to prevent the exercise of power by others.


  1. Donald Light, Suzanne Keller, Craig Calhoun, Readings And Review For
     Sociology, Fifth Edition, prepared by Theodore C. Wagenaar and Tomas
     F. Gieryn, New York, 1989
  2. Richard T. Schaefer, Sociology, Western Illinois University, 1989

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