AP Comparative Government: Essential Terms
For students enrolled in AP Comparative Government at Farmington High School, Farmington MI.
Terms in this set (173)
a reference to the leadership and institutions that make policy decisions for the country.
Who has the power to make the decisions? How did they get the power? What challenges do leaders face from others - both inside and outside the country's borders - in keeping the power?
factual statements and statistics
issues that require value judgments.
a speculative statement about the relationship between two or more factors known as variables.
measurable traits or characteristics that change under different conditions.
the idea that one variable causes or influences another.
exists when a change in one variable coincides with a change in the other. correlations are an indication that causality may be present.
based largely on cold war politics. 1) The United States and its allies 2) the Soviet Union and its allies 3) third world nations that don't fit in the first categories and were all economically underdeveloped and deprived.
takes into consideration not only the ways that politicians operate outside their formal powers, but also the impact that beliefs, values, and actions of ordinary citizens have on policy-making.
the countries have well-established democratic governments and a high level of economic development (Great Britain and the USA)
Communist and post-communist countries
these countries have sought to create a system that limits individual freedoms in order to divide wealth more equally. Communism flourished during the 20th century, but lost ground to democratic regimes by the beginning of the 21st century. Russia and China represent this group.
newly industrialized countries
experiencing rapid economic growth and have shown a tendency toward democratization and political and social stability (Mexico and Iran).
less developed countries
lack significant economic development, and they also tend to have authoritarian governments (Nigeria).
stable, long lasting organizations that help turn political ideas into policy.
a group of people bound together by a common political identity.
the sense of belonging and identity that distinguishes one nation from another.
the rules that a state sets and follows in exerting its power.
a democracy where officials represent the people.
individuals have immediate say over the decisions that the government makes.
most democracies are ______ because large populations make it almost impossible for individuals to have a great deal of direct influence on how they are governed.
A major branch of democratic government: makes laws.
A major branch of democratic government: enforces laws.
A major branch of democratic government: carries out the laws and policies of the state.
a democratic system where citizens vote for legislative representatives, who then select the leaders of the executive branch.
citizens vote for legislative representatives as well as executive branch leaders and the two branches function with separation of powers.
in a democracy, makes the laws, controls finances, appoints and dismisses the prime minister and the cabinet, and debates public issues. Supports decisions made by the executive branch.
Head of state
a role that symbolizes the power and nature of the regime (British monarch).
Head of government
a role that deals with the everyday tasks of running the government (British prime minister)
the roles of the head of state and head of government are given to one person - the president.
Checks and balances
a system of ensuring separation of powers.
separation of powers
ensures that power is shared and one branch does not come to dominate the others.
similarity between United States, Nigeria, and Mexico
someone who holds political power.
a regime where decisions are made by the political elites without much input from citizens.
a regime where the party controls everything from the government to the economy to social life.
an arrangement in which government officials interact with people and groups outside the government before they set policy.
Common characteristics of __________ __________ include: a small group of elites exercising power over the state. citizens with little or no input into selection of leaders and government decisions. no constitutional responsibility of leaders to the public. restriction of civil rights and civil liberties.
this term is almost always used to describe a particularly repressive and usually detested regime.
a system in which the state provides specific benefits or favors to a single person or small group in return for public support.
________ is exemplified in China, Russia, Mexico, and Nigeria.
a basic principle of democracy and a situation in which power is split among many groups. The formation of interest groups is spontaneous, and the dialogue between interest groups and the state is voluntary so the groups remain autonomous.
Interest representation is institutionalized by the state and organizations develop institutionalized and legally binding links with the state agencies, so that the groups become semi-public agencies, acting on behalf of the state. As a result, groups and individuals lose their freedom.
the right to rule, as the determined by the country's citizens.
rests upon the belief that tradition should determine who should rule and how. (monarchy)
based on the dynamic qualities of an individual leader or small group.
based on a system of well-established laws and procedures.
law based on tradition, past practices, and legal precedents set by the courts through interpretations of statutes, legal legislation, and past rulings. (Found in Britain, the United States, and other countries with a strong English influence.)
law based on a comprehensive system of written rules of law divided into commercial, civil, and criminal codes. (Predominant in Europe and countries influenced by the French, German, or Spanish systems. China, Mexico, Russia).
citizens tend to credit their government with economic prosperity and blame their government for economic hardships, so political legitimacy is reinforced by _____ ____-_________.
if citizens identify strongly with their nation, they are usually more accepting of the legitimacy of the government.
The government enjoys legitimacy if the citizens receive benefits from the government, if the government wins wars, and if the citizens are protected from violence and crime.
refers to the collection of political beliefs, values, practices, and institutions that a government is based on.
shapes a country's concept of who has the authority to rule and its definition of legitimate political power.
the amount of reciprocity and trust that exists among citizens and between citizens and the state.
Consensual political culture
although citizens may disagree on some political processes and policies, they generally agree on how decisions are made, what issues should be addressed, and what problems should be solved. This type of political culture accepts both the legitimacy of the regime and solutions to major problems.
Conflictual political culture
citizens in this political culture are sharply divided, often on both the legitimacy of the regime and solutions to major problems.
sets of political values held by individuals regarding the basic goals of government and politics.
a type of political ideology. Places emphasis on individual political and economic freedom. Usually has some political impact in liberal democracies (US and Britain)
a type of political ideology. Generally values equality over freedom. Rejects the idea that personal freedom will ensure prosperity for the majority.
value the ideal of equal opportunity, but usually tolerate a great deal of inequality, especially within the economy.
a type of political ideology. Shares the value of equality with communism but is also influenced by the liberal values of freedom. Followers of this ideology accept and promote private ownership and free market principles, but believe that the state has a strong role to play in regulating the economy and providing benefits to the public.
a type of political ideology. devalues freedom and rejects the ideas of equality, accepting the idea that the state has the right and the responsibility to mold the society and economy and to eliminate obstacles (including people) that might weaken them. (Nazi Germany)
a type of political ideology. This type of ideology has always been an important source of group identity. In Nigeria, this ideology is an important basis of legitimacy in the Muslim north but not in the Christian south.
a type of change that does not advocate the overthrow of basic institutions.
this type of change implies change at a more basic level, and involves either a major revision or an overthow of existing institutions.
this type of change generally represents the most limited of the three types of change, replacing the leadership of a country with new leaders.
an attitude toward change. The belief that rapid, dramatic changes need to be made in the existing society, often including the political system.
an attitude toward change. Supports reform and gradual change rather than revolution.
an attitude toward change. Much less supportive of change in general - people with this attitude tend to see change as disruptive.
an attitude toward change. Go further to protect against change than do conservative beliefs. The oppose both revolution and reform, and are more willing to use violence to reach their goals than two of the more moderate groups.
civil liberties, rule of law, neutrality of the judiciary, open civil society, civilian control of the military.
freedom of belief, speech, and assembly
Rule of law
provides for equal treatment of citizens and due process
Neutrality of the judiciary
check on the abuse of power.
Open civil society
allows citizens to lead private lives and mass media to operate independently from government.
Civilian control of the military
restricts the likelihood of the military seizing control of the government.
may also be called a substantive democracy
may also be called a liberal democracy. Citizens have access to multiple sources of information.
a country that has regular, free, and fair competitive elections, but is missing vital qualities (like civil liberties, rule of law, neutrality of the judiciary, open civil society, and civilian control of the military) is called an illiberal democracy or a _____ _______.
a country that has regular, free, and fair competitive elections, but is missing vital qualities (like civil liberties, rule of law, neutrality of the judiciary, open civil society, and civilian control of the military) is called a procedural democracy or a _____ _______.
necessary condition for the development of substantive democracy.
First wave of democratization
a wave of democratization that developed gradually over time.
Second wave of democratization
a wave of democratization that occurred after the Allied victory in World War II and continued until the early 1960s. Characterized by de-colonization around the globe.
Third wave of democratization
a wave of democratization that is characterized by the defeat of dictatorial or totalitarian rulers in South America, Eastern Europe, and some parts of Africa.
The process of transition from a non-democratic government to a MORE democratic government
one of the greatest obstacles to democratization because it blocks citizen participation in a government.
a country may be declared to be ______ when the country has had at least two successive peaceful turnovers of power.
Revolution of rising expectations
political discontent is generally fueled if the crisis is preceded by a period of relative improvement in the standard of living.
creates a stable political system that is supported by all parts of society. All institutions and many people participate, so this ideology penetrates political parties, the judicatory, the bureaucracy, and the military.
a state that progresses from procedural democracy to substantive democracy through democratic consolidation is said to experience this phenomenon.
middle-class professionals or businessmen
an economy in which the government owned almost all industrial enterprises and retail sales outlets. Communist countries rely heavily on this economic system. Now fading from existence with the death of communist countries. (Soviet Union)
the process of limiting the power of the state over private property and market forces.
an economy that does not allow significant control from the central government. (United States)
an economy that allows significant control from the central government.
Market economy factors
two factors have promoted the movement towards this type of economy: belief that the government is too big, and lack of success of command economies.
the term that describes the state's recreation of a market in which property, labor, good, and services can all function in a competitive environment to determine their value.
the transfer of state-owned property to private ownership.
Disadvantage of free market economy
this kind of economy inevitably goes through cycles of prosperity and scarcity - recessions and depressions that eventually correct themselves, but can be devastating.
divisions based on ethnic or cultural identity.
identities based on nationhood.
Politicization of religions
the fusion of church and state.
the boundaries between citizens of different religions, ethnic groups, race, and social and economic classes.
a basis of social cleavages. even though this type of cleavage has declined in industrial and post-industrial societies, it is still an important basis of cleavages.
this type of social cleavage is clearly the most divisive and explosive cleavages in countries at all levels of development.
differing political values and attitudes characterize people living in different geographic regions.
when every dispute aligns the same groups against each other, this type of cleavage is likely to be explosive.
These types of cleavages divide society into many potential groups that may conflict on one issue but cooperate on another, which tends to keep social conflict to more moderate levels.
a citizen's capacity to understand and influence political events. When citizens enjoy a high level of ____ ______, they believe that the government takes their input seriously and cares about what they have to say. If citizens lack this quality, they may not believe that it is important to vote, or they may try to ignore the government's efforts to enforce laws.
a person's political beliefs are a combination of many feelings and attitudes, including both specific and general identifications.
in authoritarian governments, most citizens accomplish this through obedience. In democracies, citizens may play a more active part in this.
do citizens in the country participate in regular elections?
level of transparency
a government with a high __________ __ ___________ is one that operates openly by keeping the citizens informed about government operations and political issues and by responding to citizens' questions and advice.
organized collective activities that aim to bring about or resist fundamental change in an existing group or society.
refers to voluntary organizations outside the state that help people define and advance their own interests - usually very strong in liberal democratizes where individual freedoms are valued and protected. Authoritarian states feel that their power is threatened by citizens participating in this.
Tyranny of the majority
the tendency of democracies to allow majority rule to neglect the rights and liberties of minorities.
a universal political order that draws its identity and values from everywhere
national and international groups, independent of any state, that pursue policy objectives and foster public participation.
structures of a political system that carry out the work of governing.
a political structure that concentrates all policy making powers in one central geographic place. (most concentrated power)
a political structure that spreads the power among many sub-units (such as states) and has a weak central government. (least concentrated power)
a political structure that divides the power between the central government and the subunits. (medium concentrated power)
an integration of social, environmental, economic, and cultural activities of nations that has resulted from increasing international contacts.
cooperating groups of nations that operate on either a regional or international level.
these types of forces bind together the people of a state, giving it strength. One of the most powerful centripetal forces is nationalism.
these types of forces destabalize the government and encourage the country to fall apart.
this movement occurs when nationalities within a country may demand independence.
the tendency to decentralize decision-making to regional governments.
shares a well-developed sense of belonging to the same culture.
the tendency for an ethnic group to see itself as a distinct nation with a right to autonomy or independence. A fundamental centrifugal force.
Economic inequalities may also destabalize a nation-state - a fundamental centrifugal force.
devolutionary events most often occur on the margins of the state, where distance, remoteness, and peripheral location promote devolution, especially if water, desert, or mountains separate the area from the center of power and neighbor nations may support separatist objectives.
most important person in the policymaking process, inviting new policies and playing an important role in their adoption.
if the country has a multi-party system with no clear majority party, a cabinet coalition will form, where several parties join forces and are represented in different cabinet posts. A common problem is that they tend to be unstable, especially if they result from a fragmented legislature.
Hierarchical authority structure
A basic characteristic of bureaucracy - a chain of command that is hierarchical; the top bureaucrat has ultimate control and authority flows from the top down.
A basic characteristic of bureaucracy - a clear division of labor in which every individual has a specialized job.
A basic characteristic of bureaucracy - clearly written, well-established formal rules that all people in the organization follow.
A basic characteristic of bureaucracy - a clearly defined set of goals that all people in the organization strive towards.
A basic characteristic of bureaucracy - merit-based hiring and promotion; no granting of jobs to friends or family unless they are the best qualified.
A basic characteristic of bureaucracy - job performance that is judged by productivity, or how much work the individual gets done.
power given to bureaucrats - the power to make small decisions in implementing legislative and executive decisions.
Common features of bureaucracy
non-elected positions, impersonal, efficient structures, formal qualifications for jobs, hierarchical organization, red tape and inefficiency.
a legislature with two houses (most common)
a legislature with one house
provides accountability for lower house
directly elected by the people, known for impulsive legislative actions.
identifying future leaders of the government.
serve to defend democratic principles.
the mechanism that allows courts to review laws.
groups that connect the government to its citizens, such as political parties, interest groups, and print and electronic media.
a rarity for party systems.
common for party systems
the rules that decide how votes are cast, counted, and translated into seats in a legislature.
winner-take-all system, plurality system.
individual candidates run in single-member districts. Voters cast votes for individual candidates and the candidate with more votes than others wins the seat. One result is a two (or few) party system.
Voting is arranged in multimember districts. Voters cast votes for parties and seats are divided among parties on the basis of percentage of overall vote. This usually results in a multi-party system.
voting is arranged in a combination of multi-member and single-member districts. Voters cast votes for individuals and parties. Some seats are filled by winners in plurality races, while others are filled by party. A mixed system results in an in-between number of parties.
organizations of like-minded people whose goal is to influence and shape public opinion. Often support candidates, but do not run their own slate of candidates. Have almost no independence in authoritarian states (China), and are autonomous from the state (western industrial democracies).
fewer groups compete than under pluralism, with usually one for each interest sector. (Labor, agriculture, management).
the state determines which groups are brought in.
interest groups take the lead and dominate the state. (Neocorporatism)
interest groups take the lead and dominate the state. (Societal corporatism)
common policy issue
Gross Domestic Product
common measurement of economic performance. all the goods and services produced by a country's economy in a given year, excluding income citizens and groups earn outside the country.
Gross national product
common measurement of economic performance. Like GDP, but including income citizens earned outside the country.
Gross national product per capita
common measurement of economic performance. Divides the gross national product by the population of the country
Purchasing Power Parity
common measurement of economic performance. Takes into consideration what people can buy using their income in the local economy.
citizen's social welfare needs include health, employment, family assistance, and education.
a measurement of social welfare. a mathematical formula that measures the amount of economic inequality in a society.
Human Development Index
a measurement of social welfare. measures the well-being of a country's people by factoring in adult literacy, life expectancy, and educational enrollment, as well as GDP.
usually refer to the promotion of equality.
usually refer to the promotion of freedom.