GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
political system is a
cultural universal and a social institution formed in every society. Each
society must have a political system because politics is deciding who
gets what, when and how.
is at the heart of a
political system, for it is defined as the ability to exercise one's will ever
others. Power relations can involve large organizations, small groups, or even
people in an intimate association.
three basic sources of power within any political system — force, influence
and authority. Force is the actual or threatened use of coercion to
impose one's will on others. When leaders imprison or even execute political
dissidents, they are applying force; so, too; are terrorists when they seize
an embassy or assassinate a political leader. Influence, on the other
hand, refers to the exercise of power through a process of persuasion. A
citizen may change his or her political position because of the newspaper
editorial, an expert testimony, or a stirring speech at a rally by a political
authority refers to power that has been institutionalized and is
recognized by the people over whom it is exercised. Sociologists commonly use
this term in connection with those who hold legitimate power through elected
or publicly acknowledged positions. Each society establishes a political
system by which it is governed. In modern industrial societies there are five
basic types of government: monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, totalitarianism
monarchy is a form of
government headed by a single member of a royal family, usually a king, or a
queen. At present, monarchs hold true governmental power in only a few
nations, such as Monaco. Most monarchs have little practical power and
primarily serve ceremonial purposes.
oligarchy is a form of
government in which a few individuals rule. Today, it usually takes the form
either of military rule, like in the developing nations of Africa, Asia and
Latin America, or of a ruling group as is the case with the Communist Parties
of some countries in Europe and Asia, the Soviet Union including.
dictatorship is a
government in which one person has nearly total power to make and enforce
laws. Typically, dictators seize power by force and are usually bitterly hated
by the population over whom they rule with an iron hand.
Frequently, dictatorships develop such overwhelming control over people's
lives that they are called totalitarian. Totalitarianism involves complete
governmental control over all aspects of social and political life in a
society. Both Nazi Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union after the October
Revolution are classified as totalitarian states.
scientists have identified six basic characteristics of a totalitarian state:
1) Large-scale use of ideology. 2) One-party system. 3) Control of weapons. 4)
Terror. 5) Control of the media. 6) Control of the economy. Through such
methods totalitarian governments have complete control over people's destinies.
literal sense, democracy means government by the people. The word «democracy»
is originated in two Greek roots — «demos», meaning «the common people», and «kratia»,
meaning «rule». Of course, it would be impossible for all the people of a
country to vote on every important issue that comes about. Consequently,
democracies are generally maintained through a mode of participation known as
representative democracy, in which certain individuals are selected to
speak for the people.
Ex. 1 Give definitions to the
power, force, authority
Ex. 2 Match the words with
1. a set of plans or actions that are
agreed on by a government, political party or other organization
2. interested or involved in politics
3. someone who has a job in politics
4. the idea and activities that are
involved in getting power in an area of governing it
Ex. 3 Find the odd word out
monarchy – an oligarchy – a dictatorship –
authority – democracy
a prince – a monarch – a queen – a king –
shoot – murder – kill – execute –
assassinate – imprison
Ex. 4 Give adjectives to the
Ex. 5 Guess these words
according to their meanings
1. (n) – controlling a country
and its people in a very strict way, without allowing another political party
2. (n) – government by someone
who takes power by force and doesn’t allow elections
3. (n) – a system of
government in which a country is ruled by a king or queen
Ex. 6 Change the words into
Ex. 7 Give synonyms to this
list of words:
to trust –
to reign –
society has its own ways of governing itself and making decisions, and each
generation must be encouraged to accept a society's basic political values and
its particular methods of decision making. Political socialization is
the process by which individuals acquire political attitudes and develop
patterns of political behavior.
principal institutions of political socialization are the family, schools, and
the media. Many observers see the family as playing a particularly significant
role in this process, as parents views have an important impacts on their
children's outlook. The schools can be influential in political socialization,
too, since they provide young people with information and analysis of the
political world. All societies, even democracies, use educational institutions
for this purpose and political education generally reflects the norms and
values of the prevailing political order. Like the family and schools, the
mass media can have obvious effects on people's thinking and political
behavior. Today, many speeches given by a nation's leaders are designed not
for immediate listeners, but for the larger television audience. Yet, a number
of studies have reported that the media do not tend to influence the masses of
people directly. Messages passed through the media first reach a small number
of opinion leaders including teachers, religious authorities, and community
activists, and later, these leaders «spread the word» to others over whom they
theory, a representative democracy functions most effectively if the majority
of its citizens gets involved in the political process. Unfortunately, this is
hardly the case in our contemporary societies. Though the majority is familiar
with the basics of the political life, but, only a small minority often
members of the higher social classes) actually participates in political
organizations on a local or national level.
Sociologists note that people are more likely to participate actively in
political life if they feel that they have the ability to influence
politicians and the political order. In addition, citizens are willing to
become involved if they trust political leaders or feel that an organized
political party represents their interests. Without question, in an age marked
by revelation of political corruption at the highest level, many members of
all social groups feel powerless and distrustful. As a result, many view
political participation, including voting at presidential elections, as a
waste of time.
Ex. 1 Read and translate the
text using a dictionary if necessary
Ex. 2 Answer the questions:
What is political socialization?
What are the principal institutions of
How can the schools be influential?
Do parents views have an important impact
on their children’s outlook?
What do educational institutions generally
What is the role of mass media?
Who usually participates in political
organizations on a local or national level?
Ex. 3 Read the text and speak
about the sociological analysis of social institutions.
Ex. 4 Speak about the
citizen’s participation in political life in Russia (in the USA, in Great
Ex. 5 What is your opinion
Ideas of government
System of government
speak about models of power structure, it is important to answer the following
questions: Who really holds power in a society? Do "we the people" really run
the country through elected representatives? Or is there a small elite of
people that governs behind the scenes? It is difficult to determine the
location of power in a society as complex as modern industrial ones. In
exploring these critical questions, social scientists have developed two basic
views of a nation's power structure: the elite and the pluralist models.
elite model is a view of
society as ruled by a small group of individuals who share a common set of
political and economic interests. Very often it is the power elite, if
all power — industrial, military, governmental — rests in the hands of a few
who control the fate of a state. Some sociologists do not fully accept this
power elite model and suggest that, in this case, a society is run and
controlled by a social upper class, that is a ruling class that
exercises the dominant role in politics, economy and government. By contrast,
the pluralist model is a view of society in which many conflicting
groups within a community have access to governmental officials and compete
with one another in an attempt to influence policy decisions.
question, the pluralist and elite models have little in common and each
describes a dramatically different distribution of power. Yet, each model
offers an accurate picture of the political life in contemporary society.
Power in various areas rests in the hands of a small number of citizens (elite
view), yet within contemporary society there are a great number of political
institutions and agencies with differing ideas and interests (pluralist
model). Thus, we may end this discussion with one common point of the elite
and pluralist perspective — power in a contemporary political system is
unequally distributed; all citizens may be equal in theory, yet those high in
a nation's power structure are "more equal".
Read and translate the text, using a dictionary if necessary.
Find in the text English equivalents of the following:
осуществлять свою волю
над кем-либо, принуждение, навязывать волю, заключить в тюрьму, совершить
политическое убийство, убеждать (убеждения), передовица, показание
(свидетельство), страстная речь, применять власть над кем-либо, обладать
законной властью, руководить (управлять), править, как в случае, создавать и
проводить в жизнь законы, захватывать власть силой, часто, широкомасштабный,
судьба (2), в буквальном смысле, голосовать, следовательно, выбирать, говорить
от имени народа, приобретать политические взгляды, взгляды родителей,
мировоззрение, преобладать (преобладающий), оказывать явное влияние на,
мышление, теоретически, к сожалению, быть знакомым с основами, участвовать
(участие), доверять, представлять интересы, несомненно, обнаруживать
(признание, открытие), недоверчивый, президентские выборы, пустая трата
времени, выборные, представители, за кулисами, исследовать критический вопрос,
иметь общие интересы, иметь доступ к чему-либо, государственные чиновники,
иметь мало общего, находиться в руках (власть).
Supply the missing words and word combinations choosing among those given
is the ability to ... one's will over others. 2) Force is the actual or ...
use of coercion ... one's will on others. 3) Influence is the exercise of
power through a process of ... 4) Authority refers to those who hold ... power
through ... or publicly ... positions. 5) Each society ... a political system
by which it is ... . 6) Most monarchs have little practical power and
primarily ... ceremonial purposes. 7) A dictator is a person who has nearly
... power to make and ... laws. 8) Frequently, dictatorships develop ...
control over people's lives. 9) One of the characteristics of a totalitarian
state is ... use of ideology. 10) Political socialization is the process by
which individuals... political... and develop ... of political behavior. 11)
The family plays a particularly ... role in political socialization. 12)
Parents'... have an important... on children's ... . 13) Schools ... young
people with information and analysis of the political world. 14) Political
education generally... the norms and values of the ... political order. 15)
The mass media can have ... effects on people's ... and political behavior.
16) A number of studies have ... that the media do not ... to influence the
masses of people.... 17) Unfortunately, this is... the case in our
contemporary societies. 18) Citizens are ...to participate in political life
if they ... political leaders or feel that they ... their interests. 19) In an
age ... by revelation of political... people feel powerless and ... .20) As a
result, many view political participation as ....21)... the pluralist and
elite models have little ... and each describes a ..., different distribution
of power. 22) Power in various areas ... in the hands of a small number of
without question, in common, dramatically, a waste of time, marked,
corruption, distrustful, willing, trust, represent, hardly, reported, tend,
directly, obvious, thinking, reflects, prevailing, provide, views, impact,
outlook, significant, acquire, attitudes, patterns, large-scale, overwhelming,
total, enforce, sense, establishes, governed, legitimate, elected,
acknowledged, persuasion, threatened, to impose, exercise.
Ex. IV. Give definitions of
the following words:
a small group of people who have a lot of
power or advantages (elite)
a situation in which people of different
races, religions, cultures, politics, etc. live together in a society
modern, or relating to the present time
Ex. V. Find the odd word out:
a group – a community – a society – a
observers – political leaders –
sociologists – politicians – governmental – officials – individuals;
dictatorship – oligarchy – pluralism –
Study the following word combinations and use them
in sentences of your own:
exercise one's will over smb., to impose one's will on smth., to apply force,
to assassinate a political leader, because of, in connection with, to hold
legitimate power, to enforce laws, to seize power by force, to be bitterly
hated by, to develop overwhelming (complete) control over, in a literal sense,
to vote on an issue, to speak for the people, to acquire political attitudes,
to provide smb. with smth., to have an effect (an impact) on, to influence smb.
directly, to have influence over, in theory, get involved in, to trust smb.,
to be willing to do smth., to be likely to do smth., to represent smb's
interests, to feel distrustful, to view smth. as a waste of time, to
run a country (to govern country), to govern smth. behind the scenes, to share
interests, power rests, to have access to, to compete with, to hive little
(much) in common with.
Ex. I Read the text and answer
the following questions:
1) Why is
a political system a cultural universal? 2) How can you prove that power is at
the heart of a political system? 3) What basic sources of power are there
within any political system? 4) What differs "force" from "influence" as
sources of power? 5) In what connection do sociologist commonly use the term
"authority"? 6) What are the basis forms of government in contemporary
industrial society? 7) What differs the monarchy from the oligarchy? 8) Why do
dictatorships frequently develop into totalitarianism? 9) What are the basic
characteristics of a totalitarian state? 10) What does "democracy" mean in a
literal sense and in practice? 11) Through what process do members of a
society acquire their political attitudes and develop patterns of political
behavior? 12) How can you prove that the family, schools and the media are the
principal institutions of political socialization? 13) How can you
characterize the process of involving people in political activities in theory
and in practice? 14) What models of power structure do you know? 15) Do they
offer an accurate picture of the political life in contemporary society? Why
so? 16) What is one common point of both models? Do you agree with this
Ex. II Define the following
key terms and memorize the definitions:
power elite model
Speak on government and politics in brief and illustrate your reports with
examples and situations of your own.
Discuss the following topics thinking like sociologists.
former Soviet Union: a representative democracy or a totalitarian state? 2)
The present organization of the Russian system of power and authority. 3)
Political socialization and its agents in the Russian society. 4) The process
through which you have acquainted your political outlook. 6) The influence of
the Russian mass media on the county's political campaign. Can Russians be
considered active or apathetic in their political behavior? Why? 6) The
distribution of power in the Russian political system: are there any citizens
«more equal» in our country
Ex. V. Speak and discuss:
What is a political system?
Why must each society have a political
How is the power defined?
What three basic sources of power are
When is force usually used?
How is influence used in politics?
What are the five basic types of
government in modern industrial societies?
What six basic characteristics of a
totalitarian state have been identified by political scientists?
In a literal sense, democracy means
"government by the people", doesn't it?
What is a representative democracy?
Has each society its own ways of governing
What is political socialization?
The principal institutions of political
socialization are the family, schools and the media, aren't they?
What institution has the most important
impact on the person's outlook?
Are many speeches given by nation's
leaders designed for immediate listeners or the larger television audience?
When does a representative democracy
function most effectively in theory?
Is the majority of our modern societies'
citizens involved in the political process?
Are citizens willing to become involved if
they trust political leaders?
Can our political leaders be fully
Is it difficult to determine the location
of power in a society as complex as modern industrial ones?
What are the two basic view of a
nation's power structure?
What is the elite model?
What is the difference between the
power elite and a ruling class?
What is the pluralist model?
What is the common point of the
elite and pluralist models?