Chapter 1

authoritarian government

A form of government in which leaders, though they admit to no limits on their powers, are effectively limited by other centers of power in the society.


The recognized right of an individual or institution to exercise power.


A form of government in which absolute control rests with a single person.

bureaucratic rule

The tendency of large-scale organizations to develop into the bureaucratic form, with the effect that administrators make key policy decisions.


An economic system based on the idea that government should interfere with economic transactions as little as possible. Free enterprise and self-reliance are the collective and individual principles that underpin capitalism.


An economic system in which government owns most or all major industries and also takes responsibility for overall management of the economy.


The idea that there are definable limits on the rightful power of a government over its citizens.


A form of government in which the people govern, either directly or through elected representatives.


The view that the United States is essentially run by a tiny elite (composed of wealthy or well-connected individuals) who control public policy through both direct and indirect means.


The notion that all individuals are equal in their moral worth and are thereby entitled to equal treatment under the law.


The idea that people should take the initiative, be self-sufficient, and accumulate the material advantages necessary for their well-being.


The principle that individuals should be free to act and think as they choose, provided they do not infringe unreasonably on the rights and freedoms of others.


The idea that the majority prevails not only in elections but also in determining policy.


Government in which control rests with a few persons.


A theory of American politics that holds that society's interests are substantially represented through the activities of groups.

political culture

The characteristic and deep-seated beliefs of a particular people.

political system

The various components of American government. The parts are separate, but they connect with each other, affecting how each performs.


The process through which society settles its conflicts and decides the policies by which it will be governed.


The ability of persons or institutions to control policy.

public policy

A decision of government to pursue a course of action designed to produce an intended outcome.


The principle that the people are the ultimate source and proper beneficiary of governing authority; in practice, a government based on majority rule.

social contract

A voluntary agreement by individuals to form a government, which is then obligated to work within the confines of that agreement.


An economic system in which government owns and controls many of the major industries.

totalitarian government

A form of government in which the leaders claim complete dominance of all individuals and institutions.