Political science::Government


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Political science

Classifying government

In political science, it has long been a goal to create a typology or taxonomy of polities, as typologies of political systems are not obvious.<ref>Lewellen, Ted C. Political Anthropology: An Introduction Third Edition. Praeger Publishers; 3rd edition (30 November 2003)</ref> It is especially important in the political science fields of comparative politics and international relations.

On the surface, identifying a form of government appears to be simple, as all governments have an official form. The United States is a Constitutional republic, while the former Soviet Union was a socialist republic. However self-identification is not objective, and as Kopstein and Lichbach argue, defining regimes can be tricky.<ref>Comparative politics : interests, identities, and institutions in a changing global order, Jeffrey Kopstein, Mark Lichbach (eds.), 2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521708400, p. 4</ref> For example, elections are a defining characteristic of a democracy,{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }} but in practice elections in the former Soviet Union were not "free and fair" and took place in a single party state. Thus in many practical classifications it would not be considered democratic.

Identifying a form of government is also difficult because a large number of political systems originate as socio-economic movements and are then carried into governments by specific parties naming themselves after those movements; all with competing political-ideologies. Experience with those movements in power, and the strong ties they may have to particular forms of government, can cause them to be considered as forms of government in themselves.

Other complications include general non-consensus or deliberate "distortion or bias" of reasonable technical definitions to political ideologies and associated forms of governing, due to the nature of politics in the modern era. For example: The meaning of "conservatism" in the United States has little in common with the way the word's definition is used elsewhere. As Ribuffo (2011) notes, "what Americans now call conservatism much of the world calls liberalism or neoliberalism".<ref>Leo P. Ribuffo, "20 Suggestions for Studying the Right now that Studying the Right is Trendy," Historically Speaking Jan 2011 v.12#1 pp 2–6, quote on p. 6</ref> Since the 1950s conservatism in the United States has been chiefly associated with the Republican Party. However, during the era of segregation many Southern Democrats were conservatives, and they played a key role in the Conservative Coalition that controlled Congress from 1937 to 1963.<ref>Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932–1968, p. 12, "...conservative southern Democrats viewed warily the potential of New Deal programs to threaten the region's economic dependence on cheap labor while stirring the democratic ambitions of the disfranchised and undermining white supremacy.", The University of North Carolina Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-8078-4910-1</ref>

Every country in the world is ruled by a system of governance that combines at least 2 (or more) of the following attributes (for example, the United States is not a true capitalist society, since the government actually provides social services for its citizens). Additionally, one person's opinion of the type of government may differ from another's (for example, some may argue that the United States is a plutocracy rather than a democracy since they may believe it is ruled by the wealthy).<ref>"Plutocrats – The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else" Chrystia Freeland is Global Editor-at-Large at Reuters news agency, following years of service at the Financial Times both in New York and London. She was the deputy editor of Canada's Globe and Mail and has reported for the Financial Times, Economist, and Washington Post. She lives in New York City.</ref> There are always shades of gray in any government. Even the most liberal democracies limit rival political activity to one extent or another, and even the most tyrannical dictatorships must organise a broad base of support, so it is very difficult "pigeonholing" every government into narrow categories.

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  • MaxRange, a dataset defining level of democracy and institutional structure(regime-type) on a 100-graded scale where every value represents a unique regimetype. Values are sorted from 1-100 based on level of democracy and political accountability. MaxRange defines the value corresponding to all states and every month from 1789 to 2015 and updating. MaxRange is created and developed by Max Range, and is now associated with the university of Halmstad, Sweden <ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation

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The dialectical forms of government

{{#invoke:main|main}} The Classical Greek philosopher Plato discusses five types of regimes. They are aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. Plato also assigns a man to each of these regimes to illustrate what they stand for. The tyrannical man would represent tyranny for example. These five regimes progressively degenerate starting with aristocracy at the top and tyranny at the bottom.

In Republic, while Plato spends much time having Socrates narrate a conversation about the city he founds with Glaucon and Adeimantus "in speech", the discussion eventually turns to considering four regimes that exist in reality and tend to degrade successively into each other: timocracy, oligarchy (also called plutocracy), democracy and tyranny (also called despotism).


arch-, prefix derived from the Greek archon, 'rulership', which means "higher in hierarchy".<ref>archon. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved on 2013-03-15.</ref> The Greek word κράτος krátos, 'power', which means "right to lead" is the suffix root in words like aristocrat and democracy.

Government sections
Intro  Political science  Forms of government by associated attributes   Forms of government by other characteristic attributes    Maps   See also   References   Bibliography  Further reading   External links   

Political science
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