Notes On Politics And Economic Life

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Chapter 13: Politics and Economic Life

Central terms




In actuality, these three are inextricably linked.

Power and authority
Power is the ability to impose one’s beliefs or interests upon others, even in the face of resistance.
Authority is the legitimate use of power.

Characteristics of a state
Organized government
Legal system
Military force

Modern form of state.
Has similar characteristics as a state, but also a shared sense of peoplehood.
Nation-states are often associated with nationalism.
Nation-states are characterized by legal sovereignty and citizenship.
Quasi-religious identification with and loyalty to the nation
Not always defined by shared territory, as in religious nationalism
Sometimes made up of smaller groups within a nation-state—local nationalisms

Citizenship All rights are not granted equally or fully to all citizens
1. Civil rights

2. Political rights

3. Social rights

What is democracy? Democracy means rule by the people.
1. Participatory democracy

2. Liberal democracy

3. Constitutional monarchy

Most nation-states are now republican, meaning there is no king or queen.

Communism vs. democracy
In the twentieth century, an ideological battle was waged between communism and democracy.
Communism is a system of one-party rule.
Control is of both the political and economic systems.
In 1989 a series of democratic revolutions swept communist regimes worldwide.
Why the rise of democracy?
Democracy aligns well with capitalism, and capitalism has been more successful than communism economically.
Globalization has led to an imperative for knowledge, which is more available under democracy.
With increasing technologies and the spread of knowledge, governmental control declines.

Democracy and the Internet
The Internet is often seen as a democratizing force.
Organizations—liberal, conservative, and in between—can share information with individuals near and far.
Political campaigns can recruit followers and volunteers from nearly all walks of life.

Democracy in the U.S.
The two-party system leads to a movement toward the middle.
By 2010, though, polarization between parties was very high and party affiliation continued to decline.
Voting has declined from the 1960s forward, with the exception of 2008.
Interest groups play an important role.

Typically, incumbents have a significant advantage in elections.
Incumbents use connections to their advantage, especially in terms of raising money.
When the economy is struggling, voters sometimes oust the incumbent in a show of frustration.

Women in politics
Despite Hillary Clinton’s position as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, women remain underrepresented at all levels of elected political office in the U.S.

Why is voter participation low?
No compulsory registration or voting
Registration required early, leaving many citizens disqualified on Election Day
Two-party system leaves many voters disaffected
Full slate of local, state, and national elections can be overwhelming

Theories of democracy

1. Democratic elitism

2. Pluralist theory

3. Power elite

4. “Military-industrial