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The study of American Government


A philosopher who defined democracy as the rule of many.


The right to exercise political power.


Structures of authority organized around expertise and specialization.

bureaucratic theory

A theory that appointed civil servants make the key governing decisions.


A small political unit within which classical democracy was practiced. (Greek)


A term used to describe three different political systems in which the people are said to rule, directly or indirectly.

direct or participatory democracy

A political system in which all or most citizens participate directly or indirectly by either holding office or making policy.


An identifiable group of people with a disproportionate share of political power.

elitist theory

A theory that a few top leaders make the key decisions without reference to popular desires.


The widely-shared perception that something or someone should be obeyed.

majoritartian politics

A political system in which the choices of the political leaders are closely constrained by the preferences of the people.

Marxist theory

A theory that government is a reflection of economic forces.

C. Wright Mills

A sociologist who presented the idea of mostly non-governmental power elites. Corporate leaders, military leaders, politicians.

pluralist theory

A theory that no one interest group consistently holds political power.

political power

Power when used to determine who will hold government office and how government will behave.


The ability of one person to cause another person to act in accordance with the first person's intentions.

representative democracy

Conferring political power on those selected by the voters in competitive elections.

Max Weber

A sociologist who emphasized the phenomenon of bureaucracy in explaining political developments.

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