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American Government Chapter 1


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a collective of individuals and institutions, the formal vehicles through which polices are made and affairs of state are conducted
member of the political community to whom certain rights and obligations are attached
the study of who gets what, when, and how - or how policy decisions are made.
a form of government in which power is vested in hereditary kings and queens who govern in the interests of all
an economic system in which the government has total control over the economy
a form of government in which the right to participate is conditioned on the possession of wealth, social status, military position, or achievement
a system of government that gives a power to the people, whether directly or through their elected representatives
social contract
an agreement between the people and hteir government signifying their consent to be governed
social contract theory
the belief that people are free and equal by god-given right and that this in turn requires taht all people give their consent to be governed; espoused by John Locke and influential in the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
direct democracy
a system of government in which members of the polity meet to dicuss all policy decisions and then agree to abide by majority rule
indirect (representative) democracy
a system of government that gives citizens the oppotunity to vote for representatives who will work on their behalf
a government rooted in the consent of the governed; a representative or indirect democracy
political culture
commonly shared attitudes, beliefs, and core values about how government should operate
personal liberty
a key characteristic of U.S. democracy. Initially meaning freedom from governmental interference, today it includes demands for freedom to engage in a variety of practices free from governmental discrimination
popular consent
the idea that governments must draw their powers from the consent of the governed.
majority rule
the central premise of direct democracy in which only policies that colletively garner the support of a majority of voters will be made into law
popoular sovereignty
the right of the majority to govern themselves
natural law
a doctrine that society should be governed by certain ehtical principles that are part of nature and, as such, can be understood by reason
civity 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 thought to believe that a government is best that governs least and taht big government can only infringe on individual, personal, and economic rights
one considered to favor extensive governmental involvement in the economy and the provision of social services and to take an activist role in protecting the rights of women, the elderly, minorities, and the environment
one who favors a free market economy and no governmental interference in personal liberties
American dream
an american idea lof 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

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