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Dictatorship

Power in a dictatorship    is held by a single person (or a very small group) that wields complete and absolute authority over a government and population. Like some absolute monarchies, dictatorships may be corrupt and seek to limit or even eradicate the liberties of the general population. Dictators use a variety of means to perpetuate their authority. Economic and military might, as well as intimidation and brutality are often foremost among their tactics; individuals are less likely to rebel when they are starving and fearful. Many dictators start out as military leaders and are conditioned to the use of violence against opposition.

Some dictators also possess the personal appeal that Max Weber identified with a charismatic leader. Subjects of such a dictator may believe that the leader has special ability or authority and may be willing to submit to his or her authority. The late Kim Jong-Il, North Korean dictator, and his successor, Kim Jong-Un, exemplify this type of charismatic dictatorship.

Some dictatorships do not align themselves with any particular belief system or ideology; the goal of this type of regime is usually limited to preserving the authority of the dictator. A totalitarian dictatorship    is even more oppressive and attempts to control all aspects of its subjects’ lives; including occupation, religious beliefs, and number of children permitted in each family. Citizens may be forced to publicly demonstrate their faith in the regime by participating in marches and demonstrations.

Some “benevolent” dictators, such as Napoleon and Anwar Sadat, are credited with advancing their people’s standard of living or exercising a moderate amount of evenhandedness. Others grossly abuse their power. Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Cambodia’s Pol Pot, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, for instance, are heads of state who earned a reputation for leading through fear and intimidation.

Kim Jong-Il of North Korea is shown wearing sunglasses amid a group of uniformed North Korean soldiers.
Dictator Kim Jong-Il of North Korea was a charismatic leader of an absolute dictatorship. His followers responded emotionally to the death of their leader in 2011. (Photo courtesy of babeltrave/flickr)

Democracy

A democracy    is a form of government that strives to provide all citizens with an equal voice, or vote, in determining state policy, regardless of their level of socioeconomic status. Another important fundamental of the democratic state is the establishment and governance of a just and comprehensive constitution that delineates the roles and responsibilities of leaders and citizens alike.

Democracies, in general, ensure certain basic rights for their citizens. First and foremost, citizens are free to organize political parties and hold elections. Leaders, once elected, must abide by the terms of the given nation’s constitution and are limited in the powers they can exercise, as well as in the length of the duration of their terms. Most democratic societies also champion freedom of individual speech, the press, and assembly, and they prohibit unlawful imprisonment. Of course, even in a democratic society, the government constrains citizens' total freedom to act however they wish. A democratically elected government does this by passing laws and writing regulations that, at least ideally, reflect the will of the majority of its people.

Although the United States champions the democratic ideology, it is not a “pure” democracy. In a purely democratic society, all citizens would vote on all proposed legislation, and this is not how laws are passed in the United States. There is a practical reason for this: a pure democracy would be hard to implement. Thus, the United States is a constitution-based federal republic in which citizens elect representatives to make policy decisions on their behalf. The term representative democracy    , which is virtually synonymous with republic , can also be used to describe a government in which citizens elect representatives to promote policies that favor their interests. In the United States, representatives are elected at local and state levels, and the votes of the Electoral College determine who will hold the office of president. Each of the three branches of the U.S. government—the executive, judicial, and legislative—is held in check by the other branches.

Summary

Nations are governed by different political systems, including monarchies, oligarchies, dictatorships, and democracies. Generally speaking, citizens of nations wherein power is concentrated in one leader or a small group are more likely to suffer violations of civil liberties and experience economic inequality. Many nations that are today organized around democratic ideals started out as monarchies or dictatorships but have evolved into more egalitarian systems. Democratic ideals, although hard to implement and achieve, promote basic human rights and justice for all citizens.

Short answer

Do you feel the United States has become an oligarchy? Why, or why not?

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Explain how an absolute monarchy differs from a dictatorship.

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In which form of government do average citizens have the least political power? What options might they have for exerting political power under this type of regime?

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Further research

The Tea Party is among the highest-profile grassroots organizations active in U.S. politics today. What is its official platform? Examine the Tea Party website to find out more information at (External Link) .

References

Balz, Dan. 2014. "For GOP, demographic opportunities, challenges await". The Washington Post . Retrieved December 11, 2014. ( (External Link) )

Dunbar, John (2012). “The Citizen’s United Decision and Why It Matters” The Center for Public Integrity. October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2014 ( (External Link) )

Krugman, Paul. 2011. “Oligarchy, American Style.” New York Times , November 3. Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

PBS Online. “Gilded Age.” 1999. The American Experience . Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Schulz, Thomas. 2011. “The Second Gilded Age: Has America Become an Oligarchy?” Spiegel Online International , October 28. Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Winters, Jeffrey. 2011. “Oligarchy and Democracy.” American Interest , November/December. Retrieved February 17, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Questions & Answers

Explain the importance of beliefs or a note of Beliefs.
Shuvhe Reply
sociological lmagination
Kelley Reply
what is gender studies
Muhammad Reply
origin and development of sociology
Rakshita Reply
what's to join
Prisca
What is gender studies
Muhammad
it means either of the two sexes (Male /female)
Prisca
thanks bro
Muhammad
thank u
Rakshita
gender studies is the study of the roles that men and women play in our society ...how those roles have been shaped..what factors have influenced them ...and their pros and cons etc
Babar
is sociology similar to political science
connect
hey guys iam a new member of this community can u tell me exactly what sociology is to be real I don't know anything about it iam interested to learn
connect
sociology is the study of social life...society, culture, social changes etc
Babar
the study of human behaviour and how interact with each other
Kimoya
what is Becker 1963
Karen Reply
sociology kisse mil ker bna hai
Poonam Reply
"Logy" means study n "social" is society.
Reemiya
Socius and logos
Silent
waah Raj
Rishit
Definition of sociology
Shashi Reply
sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
Sunny
as the implies it is the study of both sex in the environment
Philip
sociology is is the study of human behavior
Muhammad
sociology is the science of society
Rehana
what is culture
Anuman Reply
To me what culture is what you grow up with in your family. What are some of the customs and ritual that you follow. Your parent maybe born in there country, while u are born in the United States. You can clash both cultures together or identity yourself more with one than the other.
Josephine
There are people who follow there culture like a book and there are people who don't follow there cultural as much.
Josephine
culture is what makes you more like your environ and imprison your thought process.
Noor
how a researcher can conduct his theoretical framework
AMINU Reply
what are the major ways that are use to prevent our youth from drug abuse
AMINU Reply
1.keep them engaged in positive activities like study,sports. 2.Provide them jobs. 3.Married people are less inclined towards drug as they have to shoulder family responsibility. 4.Law system also need to play their role to control drug mafias. 5.rehabilitation centers for drug abused should be ther
deepak
would love to know others thought on this
deepak
keep them engaged in positive activities
Rizwana
implement the Law is one and forcing the law is two, which is the weak point of the government to stop drug abuse.
Pupa
tackling corruption, poverty and illiteracy is very essential
Farous
how does poverty have an impact on drug abuse. In my opinion, I think if you don't have money to eat how do you get money for drugs.
Eunice
Characteristics of culture
Yusuf Reply
.
deepak
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Yusuf
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Rizwana
How has sociologists views shaped the way we think of society today?
seba Reply
why sociological imagination called sociological lens?
Crisel Reply
since the views of sociology derive from the minds of those who think as they do, this is called the sociological lens. Our imagination is only limited to how we think and we perceive things as a result of thinking vigorously. A sociological imagination focuses on the depth of a concept or idea...
seba
I agree what seba said.
Josephine
what are the measures that are used to cure and prevent our society from repping
AMINU Reply
what is Hawthorne effect
Karen Reply
It is when the respondent is influenced by the researcher For example the respondent might lie to impress the researcher thus Hawthorne effect is include
Soumeyrah

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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