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POLS 203-Ch. 1

Ch. 1 Vocabulary

TermDefinition
Institution an ongoing organization that performs certain functions for society
Social Conflict disagreements among people in a society over what the society’s priorities should be.
Politics the process of resolving conflicts over how society should use its scarce resources and who should receive various benefits, such as public health care and public higher education.
Government the individuals and institutions that make society’s rules and possess the power and authority to enforce those rules.
Power the ability to influence the behavior of others, usually through the use of force, persuasion, or rewards.
Authority the ability to legitimately exercise power, such as the power to make and enforce laws.
Public Services essential services that individuals cannot provide for themselves, such as building and maintaining roads, establishing welfare programs, operating public schools, and preserving national parks.
Autocracy a form of government in which the power and authority of the government are in the hands of a single person.
Monarchy a form of autocracy in which a king, queen, or other aristocrat is the highest authority in the government. Monarchs usually obtain their power through inheritance.
Divine right theory the theory that a monarch’s right to rule was derived directly from God rather than from the consent of the people.
Dictatorship a form of government in which absolute power is exercised by an individual or group whose power is no supported by tradition.
Democracy a system of government in which the people have ultimate political authority. The word is derived from the Greek demos (“the people”) and kratia (“rule”).
Direct democracy a system of government in which political decisions are made by the people themselves rather than by elected representatives. This form of government was practiced in some parts of ancient Greece.
Representative democracy a form of democracy in which the will of the majority is expressed through groups of individuals elected by the people to act as their representatives.
Republic essentially, a representative system in which there is no king or queen and the people are sovereign.
Parliament the national legislative body in countries governed by a parliamentary system, such as Britain and Canada.
Limited government a form of government based on the principle that the powers of government should be clearly limited either through a written document or through wide public understanding.
Social contract a voluntary agreement among individuals to create a government and to give that government adequate power to secure the mutual protection and welfare of all individuals.
Natural rights rights that not bestowed by governments but are inherent within every man, woman, and child by virtue of the fact that he or she is a human being.
Political culture the set of ideas, values, and attitudes about government and the political process held by a community or a nation.
Liberty The freedom of individuals to believe, act and express themselves as they choose so long as doing so does not infringe on the rights of other individuals in the society.
Equality A concept that holds, at a minimum, that all people are entitled to equal protection under the law.
Capitalism an economic system based on the private ownership of wealth-producing property, free markets, and freedom of contract. The privately owned corporation is the preeminent capitalist institution.
Tea Party movement A grassroots conservative movement that arose in 2009 after Barack Obama became president. The movement opposes big government and current levels of taxation, and also rejects political compromise.
Ideology generally, a system of political ideas that are rooted in religious or philosophical beliefs concerning human nature, society, and government.
Conservatism a set of political beliefs that include a limited role for the national government in helping individuals and in the economic affairs of the nation, as well as support for traditional values and lifestyles.
Conservative movement an ideological movement that arose in the 1950s and 1960s and continues to shape conservative beliefs.
Liberalism a set of political beliefs that include the advocacy of active government, including government intervention to improve the welfare of individuals and to protect civil rights.
Progressivism an alternative, more popular term for the set of political beliefs also known as liberalism.
Moderates persons whose views fall in the middle of the political spectrum.
Socialism a political ideology, often critical of capitalism, that lies to the left of liberalism on the traditional political spectrum. Socialists are scarce in the United States but common in many other countries.
Libertarianism the belief that government should do as little as possible, not only in the economic sphere, but also in regulating morality and personal behavior.
Created by: Maddyjo