consists of those institutions that make authoritative public policies for society as a whole.
Government Common Functions
maintain national defense, provide public goods, use police powers to maintain order, furnish public services, socialize the young into the political culture, and collect taxes to pay for the services they provide. Part of what government does is provide public goods, services that can be shared by everyone and cannot be denied to anyone.
a set of institutions and activities that link together government, politics, and public policy.
linking democratic society, parties, elections, interest groups, and the media between the preferences of citizens and the government's policy agenda.
when people confront government officials with problems they expect them to solve, they are trying to influence. It changes frequently: if public officials want to get elected, they must pay attention to the problems that concern the voters.
congress, the presidency, and the courts-stand at the core of the political system. They make policies concerning some of the issues on the policy agenda.
is a choice that government makes in response to some issue on its agenda. Public policy includes all of the decisions and nondecisions of government: policymakers can establish a policy by doing something or by doing nothing, as can be seen by the government's original response. Policy impacts are the effects that policy has on people and on society's problems.
a means of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the public's preferences. A government by the people, either directly or through elected representatives.
Traditional Democratic Theory
rests upon several principles that specify how a democratic government makes its decisions.
"An ideal democratic process"
Robert Dahl lists five criteria that are essential. Equality in voting, effective participation enlightened understanding, citizen control of the agenda, and inclusion, which means that government must include (and extend rights to) all those subject to its laws.
where people govern themselves by making policy decisions in face to face discussions. Only in a small state. (Athenian, New England).
is the value encompasses the belief than no individual should be under the control of another.
Equality of Opportunity
is the idea that people should have an equal chance to develop their potential.
Equality of Result
is the idea that actual inequalities among people must be eliminated, even if that will involve a redistribution of assets.
The relationship between the few leaders and the many followers. The closer the correspondence between representatives and their electoral majority, the closer the approximation to democracy.
contends that many centers of influence compete for power and control over public policy, with no one group or set of groups dominating. View bargaining and compromise as essential ingredients in our democracy.
Elite and Class Theory
contends that society is divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite rules. Wealth is seen as the basis of power, and a few powerful Americans are the policymakers.
contend that the existence of too many influential groups actually makes it impossible for government to act. When politicians try to placate every group, the result is confusing, contradictory, and muddled policy (or no policy at all). Both hyperpluralist theory and elite and class theory suggest that the public interest is rarely translated into public policy.
The large number and diversity of interest groups coupled with the decentralized nature of government makes it easy to prevent policy formulation and implementation.