Glossary of U.S. Government Ch 1 vocabulary

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the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies
public policies
all of those things a government decides to do;
covers things such as education, defense, crime, health care, etc
a body of people, living in a defined territory, organized politically (with a gov't) and with the power to make and enforce laws - without the consent of any higher authority
four characteristics of state?
1. population (people)
2. territory (land)
3. sovereignty (absolute power)
4. government (organized)
ethnic term referring to races of people
geographic term - refers to a particular place, region, or area of land
concept where a law must be reasonable, fair, and impartial
Name four of the most widely held theories that explain the origin of the state
1. Force theory
2. Evolutionary theory
3. Divine Right theory
4. Social Contract theory
force theory
the state was born of force - on person/group claimed control and forced all within to submit
evolutionary theory
the state developed naturally out of the early family - in the primitive family one person was the "head"/"gov't" - over years families grew to clans then tribes - when they began agriculture, the state was born
Divine Right theory
the state was created by God and that God had given those of royal birth a "divine right" to rule; people were bound to obey their ruler as they were God
Social Contract theory
early man agree with each other to creat a state giving up some of their rights to a ruler in order to promote the well-being of all
What are the three ways governments are classified?
1. geographical distribution of power
2. relationship between the different branches of gov't
3. the number of people who can take part in the gov't
geographic distribution of power - THREE basic forms of gov't
1. unitary
2. federal
3. confederate
unitary government
all powers are held by a single central agency; the central authority creates local units of gov't for its own convenience -
EXAMPLE: Great Britain with its Parliament holding all the power of the British government
federal government
one where the powers are divided between a central government and several local governments
EXAMPLE: United States - the national government has certain powers and the state governments have others
confederate government
an alliance of independent states; the central government has the power to handle only those matters that the member states give it
EXAMPLE: Confederate States of America
presidential government
gov't that features a separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches; branches are independent and coequal
parliamentary government
the executive branch is made up of the prime minister and that official's cabinet - the prime minister is the leader of the majority party in Parliament - in this gov't the chief executive is of the legislative branch, chosen by the legislative branch and subject to their control
exists where those who rule cannot be held responsible to the will of the people; gov't is NOT accountable for its policies nor for the ways in which they are carried out; probably the oldest form -and most common- form of gov't known
examples of dictatorships
Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, People's Republic of China
characteristics of a dictatorship
1. present outward appearance of control by the people
2. often there is voting but it is closely controlled
3. typically militaristic in character
4. usually gain power by force
5. military holds many major posts in the gov't
6. after crushing opposition at home; they will often turn to foreign aggression to enhance the country's military power and prestige
political authority rests with the people
direct democracy (pure democracy)
exists where the will of the people is translated into policy directly by the people themselves in mass meetings EXAMPLE: Athens
representative democracy
a small group of people are chosen (elected) by the people to act as their representatives
power is held by the electorate (those who can vot) and the power is exercised by representatives chosen by and held responsible to the electorate
process of blending and adjusting, of reconciling competing views and interests - in order to find the position most acceptable to the largest number
total absence of government
Five basic concepts of democracy
1. worth of the Individual
2. Equality of ALL persons
3. Majority rule and Minority rights
4. Necessity of compromise
5. Individual Freedom

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