Political Systems and Their Functions in Society

Topics: Democracy, Communism, Single-party state Pages: 10 (3475 words) Published: April 16, 2013
CHINA – Communist Single-Party Authoritarian State8
SRI LANKA –Democratic Socialist Republican State9

The revolution and uprising in many Middle Eastern countries recently began with disgruntled and disillusioned citizens rising up against their ruling powers. Starting in Cairo, Egypt in January 2011, pro-democratic citizens staged protests demanding that Hosni Mubarak, the president for over three decades, step down. Other countries in the region followed suite: Tunisia, Libya and now Syria. These events served to open the eyes of governments worldwide to the fact that a political system of a country has a direct impact on the life of every citizen, and that of course citizens in return can have a say on how they wish to be governed. Of course, politics in its broader sense is a part of every man’s life as it deals “with the activities of human beings” (Volpi, 2008). Whether in the workplace or in the family, the power struggle exists, causing conflict and heartache. Yet on a macro-level Aristotle’s belief about politics was that its object “was the good of the community…, and the role of the politicians… was to ensure the good functioning of the polity in order to allow the community to reach its normative goals.” (Volpi) In order for politics to help society and its citizens, every nation state has its own political institutions. Political institutions are defined by D. Alan Heslop (2008) as “organizations which create, enforce, and apply laws; that mediate conflict; make (governmental) policy on the economy and social systems; and otherwise provide representation for the populous. Examples of such political institutions include political parties, trade unions, and the (legal) courts.” He also states that “the term 'Political Institutions' may also refer to the recognized structure of rules and principles within which the above organizations operate, including such concepts as the right to vote, responsible government, and accountability. “The individual gets involved in the political process of his nation state through voting, registering opinions, selecting political leaders, and influencing political opinion. Looking at the political map today we see many changes are rampant in the world. The political systems of many countries have come crashing down or have transitioned or re-configured to suit the needs of the powerful elite or for the common good of the majority. TYPES OF POLITICAL SYSTEMS AND MODERN EXAMPLES

Giddens (2005), profiles three types of political systems: Monarchy, Liberal Democracy and Authoritarianism. Yet O’Connor (2012) states that DK Publishing's (2006) How Governments Work holds that there are six main types of political systems: Monarchal, Theocratic, Military, Democratic, Single party, and Transitional. I will be examining the first five below. MONARCHY

According to Giddens this is a system, where a single person who is in power had their power passed down through their family for generations. O’Connor states that an Absolute Monarchy may also have cabinet officials or symbolic parliaments, but such institutions can be dissolved or altered at will. He says there are currently 31 such monarchies in the world today, the most prominent being the Arab "oil monarchies” including: “Morocco (the longest-running kingdom in the Arab world); Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait (the most politically open)”. Yet, there are monarchies where the monarch’s powers are limited, and as seen in Britain and Belgium, they have become little more than figureheads. In such constitutional monarchies Giddens says the monarch’s power is restricted by the constitution and they rarely influence...

References: Anon. 2012. Divineguma Bill: Signs of Authoritarianism. The Sunday Times, 7 Oct.p.12
Fernando, B., 2012
Giddens, A., 2005. Sociology. 4th ed. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers Ltd
Heslop, D
O’Connor, T., 2012. The Structural-Functional Classification of Political Systems. (Online) (Updated 18 Oct 2012). Available at: http://www.drtomoconnor.com/4090/4090lect02a.
Ornstein, N., 1992. The Role of the Legislature in a Democracy: Freedom Paper No.3. Available at: InfoUSA http://infousa.state.gov/media/pressfreedom/freedom3.htm
The Dictator.2012 (DVD) Los Angeles: Paramount Pictures
Volpi, F., 2008. Political Parties. In: Turner, Bryan A., The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Beetham, D., & Boyle, K., 2001. What is Democracy? In: Giddens, A., Sociology: Introductory Readings. London: Polity Press
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Wilson,W. & Kidd, A., 1998. Sociology: for GCSE and Modern Studies. London: Collins Educational
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