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This is a powerpoint to accompany Introduction to Sociology:

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  1. 1. Introduction to Sociology: Politics
  2. 2. What is Politics? ● Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. ● The term is generally applied to behaviour within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. ● It consists of social relations involving authority or power, the regulation of political units, and the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply social policy.
  3. 3. Power ● Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows that group to administrate the distribution of public resources, including labour, and wealth. ● Political powers are not limited to heads of states, however the extent to which a person or group such as an insurgency, terrorist group, or multinational corporation possesses such power relates to the amount of societal influence they can wield, formally or informally. ● Power, then, is often defined as the ability to influence the behavior of others with or without resistance.
  4. 4. Authority ● Authority refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise power. ● Max Weber identified and distinguished three types of legitimate authority. – The first type discussed by Weber is Rational-legal authority. It is that form of authority which depends for its legitimacy on formal rules and established laws of the state, which are usually written down and are often very complex. – The second type of authority is Traditional authority, which derives from long-established customs, habits and social structures. – The third form of authority is Charismatic authority. Here, the charisma of the individual or the leader plays an important role. Charismatic authority is that authority which is derived from a gift of grace, the power of one's personality, or when the leader claims that his authority is derived from a "higher power" (e.g. God) that is superior to both the validity of traditional and rational-legal authority. Followers accept this and are willing to follow this higher or inspired authority in the place of the authority that they have hitherto been following.
  5. 5. Violence ● In most modern nation-states, the government has authority, which gives it power. ● Intriguingly, the fact that the government has authority gives it the right to use power to force citizens to do what the government deems appropriate. ● In other words, the government has the right, based on its authority, to force people to behave in certain ways. ● Refusal to follow the dictates of the government can result in the government using violence to coerce individuals into compliance.
  6. 6. Types of Governments ● Monarchies ● Democracies ● Totalitarianism ● Oligarchy ● Communism ● Theocracy
  7. 7. Currently Communist Countries
  8. 8. Ever Communist Countries
  9. 9. Political Parties ● A political party is a political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ● Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests.
  10. 10. Voting Patterns and Inequality ● In any political system where voting is allowed, some people are more likely to vote than others. ● Additionally, some people are more likely to have access to political power than are others. ● It is in teasing out the stratification of political participation and political power that the sociological imagination is particularly useful.