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US Politics Introduction. Overview 1.Power –Definition –Types 2.Exercising Power –Authority –Legitimacy 3.Politics 4.Political Culture and Socialization.

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Presentation on theme: "US Politics Introduction. Overview 1.Power –Definition –Types 2.Exercising Power –Authority –Legitimacy 3.Politics 4.Political Culture and Socialization."— Presentation transcript:

1 US Politics Introduction

2 Overview 1.Power –Definition –Types 2.Exercising Power –Authority –Legitimacy 3.Politics 4.Political Culture and Socialization 5.Government

3 I. Power Power –How do we define power? –How can we tell when someone has power? –Is power connected to individuals or institutions?

4 I. Power Power: Definition –The ability to get others to take actions they would not otherwise take

5 I. Power We find many different types of power in play in the world in various institutional contexts How is it acquired? How is it exercised? Let’s look at power in the family

6 I. Power Types of Power –Physical Coercion –Parents use greater strength to coerce compliance

7 I. Power Governments rely on the same Governments routinely maintain a monopoly on the legitimate use of force

8 I. Power Types of Power –Physical Coercion –Economic Threats/Rewards –Use the promise of financial gain or the threat of financial loss to coerce compliance

9 I. Power Economic threats and rewards are also key parts of the government’s power arsenal

10 I. Power Types of Power –Physical Coercion –Economic –Psychological –Instill proper emotions so that people act the way you want because they believe that is what they want to do

11 I. Power Psychological Power –This type of power is essential to governments –It is vital that the vast majority of the population obeys laws because they believe it is the right thing to do

12 II. Exercising Power How do people and institutions come to acquire power? How do we determine the limits, if any on the exercise of power?

13 II. Exercising Power The legitimate exercise of power rests on the idea of authority –The right to exercise power and compel obedience Does everyone have authority? How does a person or institution gain authority?

14 II. Exercising Power Authority relies on the idea of “legitimacy” Legitimacy –Right to exercise authority –Rests on popular support for authority

15 II. Exercising Power Is this permissible? Police dogs attack civil rights protester Birmingham, Alabama, 1963

16 II. Exercising Power Legitimacy places limits on how power may be exercised It helps us to determine what is and what is not a legitimate use of power US military interrogation in Abu Ghraib prison Baghdad, Iraq, 2004

17 III. Politics Politics –Definition –Importance Why Politics ? Let’s look at the way of the world…

18 III. Politics ScarcityCompetitionConflictViolence Politics intervenes here Politics is what we practice to help prevent conflict from becoming violent

19 III. Politics Politics: Definition Peaceful resolution of conflict Allocation of scarce resources in a peaceful manner The process of deciding who receives the benefits in society and who is excluded from those benefits

20 III. Politics To practice politics at a societal level most societies of any scale have adopted a specific institution -- government -- to handle the broad-based allocation difficulties encountered. It rules (exercises power) through laws and by maintaining a monopoly on coercive force Which of course raises the questions…

21 III. Politics How do governments gain that legitimacy and authority? Why would a people agree to allow an institution to have so much control over their lives?


23 IV. Political Culture The complex interaction between a people and its government can be explained by the idea of a political culture Political Culture Ways of life that bind and unite a people politically

24 IV. Political Culture Basic Components of Political Culture –Symbols Shared ways of communicating political ideas Examples Flag Music Monuments Buildings ClothingIcons

25 IV. Political Culture Components –Symbols Shared ways of communicating political ideas –Beliefs Shared understanding of the basics of political life –Values Shared understanding of what is good or desirable –Mores Shared understanding of acceptable behavior All of this is learned behavior, which gets us to …

26 IV. Political Socialization Definition –The process by which the elements of the political culture are transmitted from one generation to the next –Political Culture is a learned process

27 IV. Political Socialization Factors in socialization: –FamilyPeers/Public Opinion –MediaReligious Groups –GovernmentCurrent Events Let’s take a closer look at “government”

28 V. Government Governments are sovereign institutions within a politically defined area That means they are the final arbiter of disputes, the final decision maker Governments are the most powerful institutions we create

29 V. Government If governments are going to wield such power over us, then we need to examine questions like: –How should this institution be organized? –How much power should it have? –Who should rule? In whose interests?

30 V. Government

31 Given the power of this institution, we need to determine the best possible arrangement The problem is that governments have two somewhat contradictory challenges: –Security/Order –Personal Liberty

32 V. Government We need to settle several related questions: –Who decides who the leaders should be? –How are the leaders chosen? –How much power/authority do they possess? Broadly speaking we have three types of government:

33 VI. Government Monarchy –Single Ruler –Hereditary Title –Absolute authority –Most common form of government in world history

34 VI. Government Dictator –Single ruler –Power usually acquired through violent means –Line of succession not clearly established

35 VI. Government Oligarchy –Rule by small group of people –Usually military leaders or economic elite Pluralism: multiple such groups compete for political power

36 VI. Government Democracy –Rule by “the people” Republic –People elect leaders who represent them Derives from the Greek: demos = people kratos = rule by

37 VI. Governments How are decisions made? –Totalitarian system no “real” checks or limits on power of political establishment –Authoritarian no “formal” checks or limits on power of political establishment; any checks are “political” (that is, come from other groups competing for power) –Constitutional Formal and political checks on political establishment

38 VI. Governments So at the founding, the political actors of the period had to reach consensus on a series of crucial questions

39 The Founding We need to examine the solutions they arrived at and the rationale for those solutions Why did we go with a republic? Who did they decide to “represent”? How?

40 The Founding How do we balance liberty and order? How much power do you we give to the government? Why did they choose to limit governmental power and how did they implement those limitations?

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