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Chapter 14

SOCA02 textbook notes for chapter 14 - politics

7 pages71 viewsWinter 2011

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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Chapter 14 Politics
What is Politics? Key Terms
Power: ability to impose ones will on others
Authority: is legitimate, institutionalized power
Power is legitimate when people regard its use as morally correct or justified
Power is institutionalized when the norms and statuses of social organizations
govern its use
Traditional authority: the norm in tribal and feudal societies, involves rulers
inheriting authority through family or clan ties. The right of a family or clan to
monopolize leadership is widely believed to derive from the will of a god
Legal-rational authority: typical of modern societies. 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, people respect
his or her authority
Charismatic authority: based on belief in the claims of extraordinary individuals
that they are inspired by a god or some higher principle
Political revolution: overthrow of political institutions by an opposition movement
and its replacement by new institutions
Political sociology is mainly concerned with institutions that specialize in the
exercise of power and authority
State: consists of the institutions responsible for formulating and carrying out a
countrys laws and public policies
The state compromises institutions that formulate and carry out a countrys laws
and public policies
Civil society: private sphere of social life
oDomestic world, the economic sphere, cultural activities and political
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oOrganized by private or voluntary arrangements between individuals and
groups outside the direct control of the state
Authoritarian state: sharply restrict citizen control of the state
Totalitarian state: citizens lack almost any control of the state
Democracy: citizens exercise a high degree of control over the state. They do this
mainly by choosing representatives in regular, competitive elections
Political parties: organizations that compete for control of government. In the
process, they give voice to policy alternatives and rally adult citizens to vote
Lobbies: organizations formed by special interest groups to advise and influence
oTrade unions and business associations
oRemind politicians how much their members votes, organizing skills, and
campaign contribution matter
Mass media: print, radio, television, and other communication technologies. In a
democracy, the mass media help keep the public informed about the quality of
Public opinion: refers to the values and attitudes of the adult population as a
Theories of Democracy
Pluralist Theory
Holds that power is widely dispersed. As a result, no group enjoys disproportionate
influence, and decisions are usually reached through negotiation and compromise
Different groups of people decided various political issues
No single group exercised disproportionate power
Elite Theory
Holds that small groups occupying the command posts of the most influential
institutions make the important decision that profoundly affect all members of
society. Moreover, they so without much regard for elections or public opinion
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