and the Political Order
(Political satire takes many forms. This characterization
of President Clinton and the Statue of Liberty is actually a float which
appeared at a parade in Germany. Such satire, in itself, is not new,
but the medium of delivery has changed dramatically.
Charges of sexual impropriety have been leveled against U.S. Presidents
as early as Thomas Jefferson).
It is useful to begin by making a distinction between the Political
Order (or STATE) and Government:
One writer (Sheppard) defines the STATE as the "institution that
successfully claims a monopoly on the right to use force within a given
Max Weber defined it as the political unit legally permitted to use
force within a specified territory.
Shepard defines Government as "the collection of individuals
who happen to be directing the power of the state at any given moment."
between power, force, influence, and authority:
Power is "the ability to exercise one's
will over others." (My definition-- (the ability to make people do something
against their will).
Force: As mentioned above, this is the
actual or threatened use of coercion to impose one's will on another. (This
can be physical force, but not necessarily. Threats to "ruin" someone by
releasing damaging information is an other form of force).
Influence: This is a form of power that
comes through persuasion. My favorite example (Bierstedt): "Julius Caesar
had POWER. His wife had INFLUENCE.
There is a classic article by French and Raven about types of power
(here are five:) --
Reward Power: the ability to obtain compliance by providing
something someone else wants-- (salary, bribe, etc.)
Coercive Power: This is force. Punishment can be applied to enforce
Referent Power: based on an individual's attraction for another--
This is like charisma. Popular personalities-- rock stars, rappers, have
loyal followings. (It also applies to cult followers of people like Jim
Jones, Charles Manson, etc.
Expert Power: This comes from the belief that an individual (or
group) has superior knowledge about a subject.
Legitimate Power: This is authority. People believe that obedience
is appropriate-- that it is right to obey.
Authority: The type of power acknowledged
by the people over whom it is exercised-- i.e. the "consent of the governed."
Influence persuades; Power compels
Max Weber developed this concept. He regarded authority as LEGITIMATE
ILLEGITIMATE POWER, on the other hand, is that which the people refuse
to acknowledge as having a right over them. Rather, they believe that they
are forced to submit. This is what Weber called COERCION.
Weber defined three kinds of legitimate power (or AUTHORITY):
Traditional: The legitimacy of a leader is rooted in custom and
"The Divine Right of Kings"
religion and the "Church"
Legal Rational: The power of government officials is based on
the OFFICES THEY HOLD. It is legitimated by explicit rules and procedures
that define the rights and obligations of leaders-- (mayors, governors,
senators and congressmen, presidents, etc.).
These rules and regulations are generally written down in a "constitution."
or other such document. This constitution is acknowledged by the citizens
of the state.
These legal rules are rationally determined to meet basic needs of the
state and the people within it.
Charismatic Authority: Here, the control of others is based on
personal characteristics-- "magnetic personalities" Jesus: Julius Caesar;
Joan of Arc; Jim Jones; Adolph Hitler; John Kennedy; Mao Tse Tung; Abraham
Charismatic authority is the least stable
Weber wrote about attempts to "routinize" charisma-- the biggest challenge
of the charismatic leader.
Emergence of the State-- Functionalist and Conflict Theories):
Earlier in the course we addressed Lenski's model of Societal evolution.
(I mentioned that it was an attempt to combine both the functionalist and
conflict perspectives in describing social structure).
A "pure" functionalist perspective focuses on the basic functions
that the state must serve in the preservation and maintenance of social
order. Generally there are four...
Enforcement of norms:
Arbitration of conflict:
Planning and direction:
Managing relations with other societies:
The functionalist tradition in examing the state
Partly stems from the work of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Leviathan
was published in 1651 and argued for a strong state with unchallenged legitimacy.
The main duty of the state is to preserve law and order among people who,
by nature, are lazy, self-seeking, prone to conflict, etc.
Emile Durkheim in his Division of Labor in Society talked about
the need for cooperation between the many parts of society (organic solidarity).
Conflict perspectives on the state:
This tradition stems from the French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rosseau
Rosseau took the opposite tact of Hobbes. People in the original state
of nature were not brutal and self-seeking, etc. Rather, they were "noble
savages"-- free, happy, and peaceful.
Rosseau argued that the State emerged with the creation of private property.
When the concept of "private property" was established, conflict developed
and people agreed on forming a social contract to prevent or reduce social
However, the STATE protected the interests of the rich over those of
the poor, and as a result, people suffered extreme misery-- slavery in
the service of a small, rich class.
Karl Marx, whom we've already discussed at length in this course,
drew heavily from Rosseau, developing his model of societal development--
primitive communism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism. Marx
must have believed that all humans were basically "good" in nature because
at the final stage in his model, there would be no government-- no state.
Autocracy-- rule of a single individual
Oligarchy-- rule by a few individuals
Pure Democracy (rare)-- city states of Greece; New England Town Meetings
Representative Democracy (historically recent, rare, and fragile)
When do we find Democracy?
advanced economic development; urbanized, literate population; politically
restraints on political power; institutionalized checks on state power;
diffusion of power throughout society
general consensus of basic values in society; absence of major cleavages
in the population
tolerance of dissent
access to information
The distinction between Liberty and Equality
In the United States we emphasis FREEDOM OF: freedom of speech, freedom
of the press, freedom of worship, etc. The general philosophy that people
should experience liberty or the ability to pursue their own goals with
a minimum of government interference--
In western socialist countries, the emphasis is more heavily placed
on equality-- which is freedom from hunger, freedom from want, freedom
from unemployment, etc. In these countries (North Western Europe is a good
example) there are more restraints on free enterprise, taxes are higher,
regulations more stringent.
There is a tension between the two concepts-- e.g., the LIBERTY to become
rich and make a fortune could reduce the EQUALITY of your neighbor.
States Power Structure:
The Power Structure of the United States-- The Power Elite vs the
The Power Elite Thesis: C. Wright Mills'
THE POWER ELITE fueled this debate.
A small "elite" controls society through government bureaucracy;
large corporations; the military; A small group of very wealthy and powerful
(white) men circulates between these three institutions and exerts control
over American society.
Mills argued that the power elite (very small in numbers) controls society
from the top; there is a larger middle class in society; and an even larger
class of powerless people.
Their characteristics: American born of American parents; from urban
areas; Protestant; attended Ivy League Colleges; many from the east coast;
thoroughly networked-- they know each other well; they share basic values.
President Eisenhower warned that the nation was coming under the influence
of a "Military-Industrial Complex" when he left office.
G. William Domhoff wrote WHO RULES AMERICA? and claimed that
the power elite was very small-- .5 percent of the population occupied
positions of power in corporations, banks, the diplomatic service, the
CIA, the military, mass media, boards of trustees, etc.
Floyd N. Hunter in COMMUNITY POWER STRUCTURE studied Atlanta,
GA and found that most decisions were made by an economic elite comprised
of corporate executives, bankers, etc. who communicated informally and
shared the same point of view. Basically, they determined local policies.
The Pluralistic Thesis: Robert Dahl wrote
in 1961 (Who Governs) that he did not find support for the power
elite thesis in his study of New Haven, CN. The power structure was much
less centralized there. This supported a pluralistic theory of power distribution
where many rival groups competed for control of the political institution
and society itself.
(The Pluralism/Power Elite debate is much more involved and complex
than presented here-- basically I want you to know the distinction between