Government Chapter 1 Vocab

  1. Government
    The institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies
  2. Public Policies
    All of the things a government decides to do, ranging from taxation, defense, education, crime, and health care to transportation, the environment, civil rights, and working conditions.
  3. Dictatorship
    A form of government where the responsibility for the exercise of power may be held by a single person or small group. Those who rule cannot be held responsible to the will of the people
  4. Democracy
    The responsibility for the exercise of power rests with a majority of the people. Supreme authority rests with the people.
  5. Politics
    The process by which a society decides how power and resources will be distributed within a society.
  6. State
    A body of people, living in a defined territory, organized politically (with a government), and with the power to make and enforce law without the consent of any higher authority.
  7. What is the difference between nation and country?
    Today, a state is usually called a country or a nation. Nation, however is an ethnic term, referring to races or other large groups of people. Country is a demographic term, referring to a particular place, region, or area of land.
  8. What are the four characteristics of a state?
    Population, territory, sovereignty, and government.
  9. Population
    People within a state
  10. Homogeneous
    Members of a group who share customs, a common language, and ethnic background.
  11. Territory
    Land with recognized borders.
  12. Sovereign
    When a state is sovereign, it has supreme and absolute power within its own territory and can decide its own foreign and domestic policies.
  13. The Force Theory
    A theory of how the state came to be. It says that one person or small group claimed control over an area and forced all within it to submit to that person's or group's rule. When that rule was established, all the basic elements of the state (population, territory, sovereignty, and goverment) were present.
  14. The Evolutionary Theory
    A theory of how the state came to be. It says that the state developed naturally out of the early family. The primitive family, of which one person was the head and thus the "government", was the first stage in political development. Over countless years the original family became a network of related families, a clan. The clan became a tribe. When the tribe first turned to agriculture and gave up its nomadic ways, when it first tied itself to the land, the state was born.
  15. The Divine Right Theory
    A theory explaining how the state came to be. It said that God created the state and that God had given those of royal birth a "divine right" to rule. The people were bound to obey their ruler.
  16. The Social Contract Theory
    A theory developed by Thomas Hobbes, James Harrington, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau in the 17th and 18th centuries. It says that in earlier times, humans lived in freedom with no government. Humans agreed with each other to create a state. By contract, people within a given area agreed to give up to the state as much power as was needed to promote the safety and well-being of all. The members of the state created a government to exercise the powers they had voluntarily given to the state. The theory says that the state serves the people, and that the people are the sole source of political power.
  17. Legislative Power
    The power to make law and to frame public policies.
  18. Executive Power
    The power to execute, enforce, and administer law.
  19. Judicial Power
    The power to interpret laws, to determine thei meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society.
  20. Direct Democracy
    Also called a pure democracy. The will of the people is translated directly into public policy. This only works in small communities, where it is possible for the citizens to meet.
  21. Indirect Democracy
    Representative democracy. The people choose a smal group of people to act as their representatives, expressing the popular will.
  22. Autocracy
    A government where a single person hols unlimited political power. It is a type of dictatorship.
  23. Oligarchy
    A government where the power to rule is held by a small, usually self-appointed elite. It is a type of dictatorship.
  24. Authoritarian
    Those in power hold absolute and unchallengeable authority
  25. Unitary Government
    All powers held by the government belong to a single, central agency. The government creates local units of government for its own convenience. Those local governments have only those powers that the central government chooses to give them. Ex. Great Britain. A central organization (The Parliament) holds the government's power.
  26. Federal Government
    A government in which the powers of government are divided between a central governent and several local governments.
  27. Confederation Government
    An alliance of independent states. The confederate government handles only those matters that member states assign to it.
  28. Presidential Government
    Government where the executive and legislative brances of the government are separate, independent, and coequal. The chief executive, or president, is chosen independently of the legislature. The president has broad powers not subject to the control of the legislative branch, and holds a set term.
  29. Parliamentary Government
    The executive is made up of the prime minister or premier, and his cabinet. The PM and cabinet are members of the legislative branch, or Parliament. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party in parliament. The exucutive is chosen by the legislature, is part of the legislature, and under the control of the legislature.
  30. Free Enterprise System
    An economic system characterized by the private ownership of capital goods, investments made by private decision, not by government directive, and success or failure determined by competition in the marketplace. Also called capitalism.
  31. Law of supply and demand
    When supplies of goods and services become plentiful, prices drop. When supplies become scarcer, prices rise.
  32. Mixed Economy
    An economy in which private enterprise exists in combination with a considerable amount of government regulation and promotion. The Government participates in the economy to protect the public and to preserve private enterprise.
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Government Chapter 1 Vocab