AP Government Ch.1 Vocab


the formal vehicle through which policies are made and affairs of state are conducted


a member of the political community who, by nature of being born in a particular nation or having become a naturalized citizen, is entitled to all the security and freedoms guarenteed by the government


the study of who gets what, when, and how; the process of how policy decisions are made


form of government in which power is vested in hereditary kings and queens who govern in the interests of all


a form of government in which power resides in a leader who rules according to self-interest and without regard for individual rights and liberties


a form of government in which the right to participate is conditioned on the posession of wealth, social status, military position, or achievement


a system of government that gives power to the people, whether directly or through elected representatives

Mayflower Compact

a document written by the Pilgrims while at sea enumerating the scope of their government and its expectations of citizens

social contract

an agreement between the people and their government signifying their consent to be governed

social contract theory

the belief that people are free and equal by natural right; all people must give their consent to be governed

direct democracy

a system of government in which the people rather than their elected representatives make political decisions

indirect democracy

a system of government that lets citizens vote for representatives who will work on their behalf


a government rooted in the consent of the governed represented by the more educated and wealthy

political culture

commonly shared attitudes, beliefs, and core values about how government should operate

personal liberty

freedom from government interference and freedom to engage in a variety of practices without government interference or discrimination

political equality

the principle that all citizens are equal in the political process

popular consent

the principle that governments must draw their powers from the consent of the governed

majority rule

the premise that the majority of citizens in any political unit should elect officials and determine policies

popular sovereignty

the notion that the ultimate authority in society rests with the people

natural law

the doctrine that society should be governed by certain ethical principles that are part of nature and, as such, can be understood by reason

civil society

society created when citizens are allowed to organize and express their views publicly as they engage in an open debate about public policy

political ideology

the coherent set of values and beliefs about the purpose and scope of government held by groups and individuals


one who favors a free market economy and no government interference in personal liberties


one who believes that a government is best that governs least and that big government can only infringe on individual, personal, and economic rights

social conservative

one who believes that traditional moral teachings should be supported and furthered by the government


one who favors government involvement in the economy and in the provisions of social services and who takes an activist role in protecting the rights of women, the elderly, minorities, and the environment

American dream

an American ideal of a happy, successful life, which often includes wealth, a house, a better life for one's children, and for some, the ability to grow up to be president