Chapter 2 - CHAPTER 1 The Study of American Government...

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CHAPTER 1 The Study of American Government 0OBJECTIVES The purpose of this chapter is to give the student a preview of the major questions to be asked throughout the textbook and to introduce key terms. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, the student should be able to do each of the following: 10. List the two basic questions to be asked about government in the United States (or in any other nation) and show that they are distinct questions. 20. Explain what is meant by power, and by political power in particular. Relate the latter to authority, legitimacy, and democracy. 30. Distinguish the two concepts of democracy mentioned in the chapter, explaining in which sense the textbook refers to the U.S. government as democratic. 40. Differentiate between majoritarian politics and elitist politics, explaining the four major theories of the latter. 50. Explain how political change tends to make political scientists cautious in stating how politics works or what values dominate it. 0OVERVIEW There are two major questions about government: Who governs? To what ends? This book will focus on the first question and will encourage students to develop their own answers to the second question. Democratic theory recognizes that the answer to the question “Who governs?” is more complicated than “the people.” Participatory democracy has been a reality in only a limited number of cases. Representative democracy gives rise to an elite. Elite theorists have given at least four answers to the question of “who governs?”: Marxist: Those who own the means of production, controlling the economic system, will control the government. Power Elitist: A few top leaders, drawn from the major sectors of the United States polity, will make all important decisions. Bureaucratic: Appointed civil servants control the government, without consulting the public. Pluralist: Competition among affected interests shapes public policy decision making. In order to choose among these theories or to devise new ones, one must examine the kinds of issues that do (and do not) get taken up by the political system and consider how they are resolved by the system. It is not enough merely to describe governmental institutions and processes. Distinguishing different types of democracies is a very important part of this study. The Framers of the Constitution intended the United States to be a representative democracy in which the power to make decisions would be determined by a free and competitive struggle for the citizens’ votes.
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Chapter 1: The Study of American Government 0CHAPTER OUTLINE WITH KEYED-IN RESOURCES0 I0. Who governs? To what ends? (THEME A: THE NATURE OF POLITICAL POWER AND AUTHORITY)0 A0. Politics exists because people differ about two great questions. 0 B0. Who governs: those who govern will affect us. C0.
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Chapter 2 - CHAPTER 1 The Study of American Government...

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