GOV Unit 1

state
A political community that occupies a definite territory and has an organized government with the power to make and enforce laws without approval from any higher authority
nation
A group of people who share the same race, language, customs, traditions, and, sometimes, religion
nation-state
A country in which the territory of both the nation and the state coincide
sovereignty
The supreme and absolute authority within territorial boundaries
government
The institution through which the state maintains social order, provides public services, and enforces binding decisions on citizens
population
This is the people living in the state. States are most stable when their people share a political and social consensus, or agreement about basic beliefs.
territory
This means a state has boundaries. Its territory may increase or decrease as a result of war, negotiations with another country, or the purchase by the state of additional territory.
Essential Features of a State
population, territory, sovereignty, and government
Theories of the Origin of the State
evolutionary theory, force theory, divine right theory,and social contract theory
Evolutionary Theory
This theory states that the heads of families served as the earliest government. These extended families might include hundreds of people. Government emerged gradually as the extended families needed more organization.
Force Theory
This theory holds that government emerged when all the people in an area were forced to accept the authority of one person or group.
Divine Right Theory
Many civilizations believed that God or gods chose rulers. According to this theory, God created the state and chose those born to royalty to rule it.
Social Contract Theory
According to certain political thinkers, government came about when people agreed to a social contract. The people gave the state the power needed to maintain order. The state, in turn, agreed to protect its citizens. John Locke, a political writer in the 1600s, argued that when government failed to preserve the rights of the people, the people could break the social contract. American colonists used Locke’s argument to justify the break with their British rulers.
Purposes of Government
maintaining social order, providing public services, providing national security, and making economic decisions
Maintaining Social Order
This means government provides ways to settle disagreements among citizens. For example, it provides courts to help people resolve their differences in an orderly manner.
Providing Public Services
Government provides services needed to make community life possible and to promote the general welfare. For example, government inspectors check meat and vegetables to prevent the sale of spoiled food.
Providing National Security
A government protects its people against attacks from other states or from internal threats, such as terrorism. In addition, the government also handles dealings, such as trade agreements, with other countries.
Making Economic Decisions
A government uses its power to provide its citizens with economic needs and wants, although no government provides its citizens with everything they need and want. A government passes the laws that control the economic environment. For instance, it provides the nation’s currency, or money, and helps to distribute benefits and services.
Systems of Government
unitary, federal, and confederate systems
unitary system
A government that gives all key powers to the national or central government
federal system
A government that divides the powers of government between the national government and state or provincial governments
confederacy
A loose union of independent states; all key powers given to local governments
Types of Government
autocracy, oligarchy, and democracy
autocracy
A system of government in which the power to rule is in the hands of a single individual
oligarchy
A system of government in which a small group holds power
democracy
A government in which the people rule (direct democracy and republican/representative democracy)
parliamentary government
prime minister is a part of and is chosen by the legislative branch
presidential government
president is chosen by voters separately from the legislative branch; separation of powers
Classifying Governments
when looking at governments, we classify them according to: who can participate in the governing process (autocracy, oligarchy, or democracy), the geographic distribution of power (unitary, federal, or confederate), and the relationship between the lawmaking and law-executing branches of government (presidential or parliamentary).