Political system

Political system

A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the views: who should have authority, how religious questions should be handled, and what the government's influence on its people and economy should be.



There are several definitions of "political system":

  • A political system is a complete set of institutions, interest groups (such as political parties, trade unions, lobby groups), the relationships between those institutions and the political norms and rules that govern their functions (constitution, election law).
  • A political system is composed of the members of a social organization (group) who are in power.
  • A political system is a system that necessarily has two properties: a set of interdependent components and boundaries toward the environment with which it interacts.
  • A political system is a concept in which theoretically regarded as a way of the government makes a policy and also to make them more organized in their administration.
  • A political system is one that ensures the maintaining of order and sanity in the society and at the same time makes it possible for some other institutions to also have their grievances and complaints put across in the course of social existence.

Commonalities between political systems:

  • Interdependent parts
  • Boundaries
    • Citizenship
    • Territory
    • Property

Basic forms of political systems

The following are examples of political systems, some of which are typically mutually exclusive (e.g. Monarchy and Republic), while others may (or may not) overlap in various combinations (e.g. Democracy and Westminster system, Democracy and Socialism).

  • Anarchism (Rule by no one)
  • Democracy (Rule by the popular vote)
  • Monarchy. (Rule by one person) Monarchies are one of the oldest political systems known, developing from tribal structure with one person the absolute ruler.
  • Meritocracy (Rule by best)
  • Technocracy (Rule by experts)
  • Republic (Rule by non-monarch) The first recorded republic was in India in the 6th century BC (BCE).
  • Sultanate (Rule by one person and Allah) an Islamic political structure combining aspects of monarchy and theocracy
  • Theocracy (Rule by God and his representatives) and other religions too; also can force convert other non-religious person in any type in this system
  • Parliamentary democracy (rule by the popular vote through parliament)
  • Feudalism (Rule by lord/king)
  • Fascism (Rule by a leader)
  • Oligarchy (Rule by a few)
  • Military government (Rule by military)
  • Aristocracy (Rule by nobles)
  • Plutocracy (Rule by money)
  • Communism (Rule by workers)

Anthropological forms of political systems

Anthropologists generally recognize four kinds of political systems, two of which are uncentralized and two of which are centralized.[1]

Main differences

  • Uncentralized systems
    • Band
      • Small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.
      • A band can cease to exist if only a small group walks out.
    • Tribe
      • Generally larger, consisting of many families. Tribes have more social institutions, such as a chief, big man, or elders.
        • More permanent than bands; a band can cease to exist if only a small group walks out. Many tribes are sub-divided into bands.
  • Centralized systems
    • Chiefdom
      • More complex than a tribe or a band society, and less complex than a state or a civilization
      • Characterized by pervasive inequality and centralization of authority.
      • A single lineage/family of the elite class becomes the ruling elite of the chiefdom
      • Complex chiefdoms have two or even three tiers of political hierarchy.
      • "An autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages or communities under the permanent control of a paramount chief"
    • State
      • A sovereign state is a state with a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.

See also


  1. ^ Haviland, W.A. (2003). Anthropology: Tenth Edition. Wadsworth:Belmont, CA.


  • Almond, Gabriel A., et al. Comparative Politics Today: A World View (Seventh Edition). 2000. ISBN 0316034975

June 25, 2011.

External links

  • For further resources on political theory and the mechanics of political system design, see the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre's topic guide on political systems

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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