POLI 100 Study Guide - Final Guide: John Stuart Mill, Liberal Democracy, Robert A. Dahl
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Sovereignty: Self-government either at the level of the individual or at the level of the
state. A sovereign state has a monopoly of force over the people and institutions in a
given territorial area.
Authority: A situation whereby an individual or group is regarded as having the right to
exercise power and is thereby acting legitimately, equated with consent.
Traditional Authority: Derived from long established customs and values. Example:
Charismatic Authority: Derived from personal attributes of the ruler. Example:
Legal-Rational Authority: Derived from the status of an office within a constitutional
framework. Example: Democracies
Night-Watchman State: A model in which the state concentrates on ensuring external
and internal security, playing little role in civil society and the economy where the
economic market is allowed to operate relatively unhindered.
Power: The ability to make others do something they would not have chosen to do.
Equated with coercion.
Developmental State: A state which prioritizes economic resources for rapid
development and which uses carrots and sticks (offering a combination of rewards
and/or punishments) to induce private economic institutions to comply. Example:
Institutions: Regular patterns of behaviour that provide stability and regularity in social
life, sometimes these patterns are given organizational form with specific rules of
behaviour and of membership.
Social Democracy: An approach which, after the Russian Revolution (1917), became
associated with liberal democracies that engaged in redistribrutive policies and the
creation of a welfare state.
Liberal Democracy: Describes states which are characterized by free and fair
elections involving universal suffrage, together with a liberal political framework
consisting of a relatively high degree of personal liberty and the protection of individual
rights. Examples: The USA, the UK, India.
Illiberal Democracy: Describes states where competitive elections are held but in
which there is relatively little protection of rights and liberties, and state control over the
means of communication ensure governing parties are rarely defeated at the polls.
Authoritarian: Refers to rule which is unaccountable and restrictive of personal liberty.
Totalitarian: Refers to an extreme version of authoritarian rule, in which the state
controls all aspects of society and the economy.
Pluralism: Originated as a normative argument against monism. In political theory, it
is mostly associated with a theory of the state which holds that political power is diffuse,
all organized groups having some influence on state output. In IR it is associated with
one of two main approaches adopted by the “English School” as well as with neoliberal
theory which highlights the plurality of forces at work in the international system.
Pluralists argue that power is empirically observable.
First Dimension of Power: Pluralist definition argues that although certain groups may
exercise power in specific areas, no single group will dominate across the range of
Second Dimension of Power: Modified pluralist definition suggests that some groups
are powerful enough to keep damaging issues off the political agenda.
Third Dimension of Power: Argues that powerful groups can prevent their potential
opponents from understanding where their true interests lie.
Marx’s False Consciousness: Asserts that the ruling class can distort the thought
processes of the labouring masses to the extent that they actually came to approve of
the system which exploits them.
Balance of Power: A system of relations between states where the goal is to maintain
an equilibrium of power, thus preventing the dominance of any one state.
Interest Groups: Political actors who seek collectively to press specific interests upon
governments (a.k.a pressure groups).
Polyarchy: A term coined by Robert Dahl. Refers to a society where government
outcomes are a product of the competition between groups. The rule of minorities, not
majorities is postulated as the normal condition of a pluralist democracy.
Democratic Elitism: An attempt to reconcile elitism with democracy. According to this
model, voters have the opportunity to choose between competing teams of leaders.
Corporatism: Traditionally referred to the top-down model where the state, as in the
fascist model, incorporates economic interests in order to control them and civil society
in general. Modern societal or neo-corporatism, on the other hand, reflects a genuine
attempt by governments to incorporate economic interests, trade union and business
interests, into the decision making process.
Political System: The totality of institutions within a state and all the connections
Elitism: In a normative sense, refers to the rule of the most able. From an empirical
perspective it refers to the existence of a ruling group beyond popular control in all
societies of any complexity.
Bourgeosie: Term appearing frequently in Marxist analysis and referring to a merchant
and/or propertied class possessing essential economic power and control.
Emancipation: A common theme in critical theory which denotes a normative
aspiration to liberate people from unfair economic, social, and political conditions.
Empirical Analysis: Refers to the measurement of factual information, of what is
rather than what ought to be.
Social Contract: A device used to justify a particular form of state. It is conceived as a
voluntary agreement that individuals make in a state of nature, which is society before
government is set up (John Rawls).