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Glossary of Study of American Politics

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Actors
individuals or groups that seek to obtain goals through political activity and policymaking
Interests
Economic, social, philosophical or political values. Fuel the actions and efforts in politics
Institutions
involve the formal and sometimes less formal organizations that exercise political power
Processes
the steps that various actions of policy proposals must go through to approach formal public policies
Outcomes
in the form of adopted formal policy, or they may be no action and a continuation of the status quo.
Government
involves the institutions and processes by which public policies are made for a society.
Elitism
political decisions and power are controlled by a small elite (upper class) or powerful, often rich, individuals
Pluralism
policy is the product of group conflict and that the public interest tends to emerge from competing individual and group claims as they bargain and compromise
Hyperpluralism
fragmented government, pressures from competing interest groups are so diverse that very little gets done
Political System
a "systematic" view of relationships between individuals, interests, institutions, and policy decisions
Power
the ability to cause others to modify their behavior - usually distributed unevenly among actors and institutions
Political Culture
values that serve as the context in which politics takes place and provides a degree of uniformity among political actions and behaviors
Aristocracy
a system of government in which control is based on rule of the highest class
Capitalism
an economic system based on individual and corporate ownership of the means of production and a supply-demand market economy
Communism
a political, economic, and social theory based on the collective ownership of land capital and in which political power lies in the hands of workers
Conservative
one who believes in and supports the typically traditional values of conservatism, and who resists change in the status quo
Democracy
A system of government placing the ultimate political authority in the people.
Direct Democracy
A system of government in which the people, rather than the elected representative, directly make political decisions.
Free Market Economy
The economic system in which the invisible hand of the market regulates prices, wages, and production
Gridlock
A situation in which government is incapable of acting on important issues often because of divided government
Indirect (representative) democracy
A system of government that gives citizens the opportunity to vote for representatives who will work on their behalf
liberal
A person slightly to the left of the center of the political spectrum who believes that change is good.
libertarian
One who favors a free market economy and no governmental interference in personal liberties
Majority rule
The central idea of governance in which only policies that have the support of a majority of voters will be made into law
Minority rights
Protections that guarantee that the minority will not be destroyed because they favor policies or actions different from the majority
monarchy
A form of government in which power is vested in a monarch, an hereditary king and/or queen
oligarchy
A form of government in which the right to participate is limited to those who posses wealth, social status, military position or achievement
personal liberty
A fundamental characteristic of democracy in the United States that protects individuals from government intrusion or interference
political ideology
The collectively held ideas and beliefs concerning the nature of the ideal political system, economic order, social goals, and moral values
popular consent
The idea that government must draw its powers from the governed or the people who are sovereign
popular sovereignty
political authority rests with the people not the government. People have the right to creat, change or revolt against their government.
republic
A government in which the ultimate sovereignty belongs to the people, and the people elect officials to represent them in government decisions
social contract
A basic tenet of liberal democracy that people are free and equal by natural right and therefore people give their consent to government
socialism
A political philosophy that supports government control of markets and production as well as government determination of peoples' needs for social and economic benefits
totalitarianism
A philosophy of politics that advocates unlimited power for the government so that is controls all sectors of society

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