polysci vocab - September 12, 2006 Chapter 1 Terminology An...

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September 12, 2006 Chapter 1 Terminology An Introduction to Politics, Government, and the United States Government American government is a field of study of governments on the American continent, namely that of the U.S. It originated in the 20 th century and focuses on statistical analyses and studies of voting behavior and other such empirically-based aspects of government, generally relying on the scientific method. Comparative politics is a field of study concerning the comparative governments of foreign countries. It focuses on the internal dynamics of their governments and political systems. International relations is a field of study concerning the governments of foreign countries as they relate to one another. It emphasizes the communications, interdependencies, and general “relations” between them. Politics is the struggle over power or influence within organizations or informal groups that can grant or withhold benefits or privileges. Essentially, it is the process of resolving conflicts and deciding who gets which benefits or privileges and who doesn’t. Government is an institution within which decisions are made that resolve conflicts or allocate benefits and privileges. It has the ultimate authority within its society for making decisions and allocating values. Direct democracy is a system of government in which political decisions are made by the people directly, rather than by their elected representatives. Because it gives each person a direct vote, this system would most easily be attained in political communities with few people. Representative democracy is a system of government in which the people vote for representatives who decide on issues. The United States is a representative democracy; voters elect representatives, and the representatives speak to the government on their behalf. Universal suffrage refers to the right of all adults to vote for their representatives. This is the U.S.’s current policy that was brought about through women’s suffrage and civil rights movements. Majority rule is a basic principle of democracy asserting that the greatest number of citizens in any political unit should select officials and determine policies. This basically means that what the majority says, goes. Referendum is an electoral device whereby legislative or constitutional measures are referred by the legislature to the voters for approval or disapproval. The people may vote directly on laws or constitutional amendments. Initiative is a procedure by which voters can propose a law or a constitutional amendment. Similar to referendum, but the people propose the policies instead of deciding on ones proposed to them. Recall is a procedure allowing the people to vote to dismiss an elected official from state office
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before his or her term has expired. Recall compliments initiative in a democratic systems. Forms of government:
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polysci vocab - September 12, 2006 Chapter 1 Terminology An...

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