In modern societies, authority derives from respect for the law.
Laws specify how a person can achieve office.
People generally believe these laws are rational.
If someone achieves office by following these laws, his or her authority is
e.g., Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik leader if the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Sometimes extraordinary or charismatic individuals challenge traditional
or legal-rational authority.
•Most people believe their claim of being inspired by a god or some
higher principle that transcends other forms of authority.
oOne principle is the idea that all people are created equal.
Charismatic individuals sometimes emerge during a political revolution.
•Political Revolution: an attempt by many people to overthrow
existing political institutions by an opposition movement and
establishing new replacement institutions.
oThey occur when widespread and successful movements of
opposition clash with crumbling traditional or legal-rational
e.g., Stephen Harper campaigning before the 2008 Canadian federal
Politics take place in all social settings including intimate face-to-face relationships,
families and universities.
Political sociology is more concerned with institutions that specialize in the exercise of
power and authority. Taken together, these institutions form the state.
State: consists of the institutions responsible for formulating and carrying out a
country’s laws and public policies.
•In performing these functions, the state regulates citizens in civil society.
oCivil Society: is “made up of areas of social life—the domestic
world, the economic sphere, cultural activities and political
interaction—which are organized by private or voluntary
arrangements between individuals and groups outside the direct
control of the state.
In turn, citizens in civil society control the state to varying degrees.
In an authoritarian state, citizen control is sharply restricted.
In a totalitarian state, it is virtually non-existent.
In a democracy, citizens exert a relatively high degree of control over the state.
•They do this partly by choosing representatives in regular, competitive
In modern democracies, citizens do not control the state directly.
They do so through several organizations.
•Political Parties: are organizations that compete for control of
government in regular elections.