Glossary

What Is Government?

common goods goods that all people may use but that are of limited supply

democracy a form of government where political power rests in the hands of the people

direct democracy a form of government where people participate directly in making government decisions instead of choosing representatives to do this for them

government the means by which a society organizes itself and allocates authority in order to accomplish collective goals

majority rule a fundamental principle of democracy; the majority should have the power to make decisions binding upon the whole

minority rights protections for those who are not part of the majority

monarchy a form of government where one ruler, usually a hereditary one, holds political power

oligarchy a form of government where a handful of elite society members hold political power

political power influence over a government’s institutions, leadership, or policies

politics the process by which we decide how resources will be allocated and which policies government will pursue

private goods goods provided by private businesses that can be used only by those who pay for them

public goods goods provided by government that anyone can use and that are available to all without charge

representative democracy a form of government where voters elect representatives to make decisions and pass laws on behalf of all the people instead of allowing people to vote directly on laws

toll good a good that is available to many people but is used only by those who can pay the price to do so

totalitarianism a form of government where government is all-powerful and citizens have no rights

Who Governs? Elitism, Pluralism, and Tradeoffs

elite theory claims political power rests in the hands of a small, elite group of people

pluralist theory claims political power rests in the hands of groups of people

Engagement in a Democracy

ideology the beliefs and ideals that help to shape political opinion and eventually policy

intense preferences beliefs and preferences based on strong feelings regarding an issue that someone adheres to over time

latent preferences beliefs and preferences people are not deeply committed to and that change over time

partisanship strong support, or even blind allegiance, for a particular political party

social capital connections with others and the willingness to interact and aid them

Licenses and Attributions

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