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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

What is family
Sukhjit Reply
family is type of relationship in this it deals with positive and negative tearms and conditions
unknown
who's a sociologist
Denis Reply
family is a group of people who are lived under one roof and they have a biological relation.
what is the origin and development of sociology?
namiak Reply
can any one will differentiate between social movement and pressure group?
Nasiru Reply
what is the origin and development of sociology?
namiak
Do you believe that Americans may be somewhat more ethnocentric than people in the other Western industrial nations? If so, why might this be the case? If not, why is this widely believed?
Elizabeth Reply
first of all the nation have the belive an faith in their ritualistic religion people go in different temple but they don't knew the culture and the ritual of all religions so human make the braches of religion and human follows it also with this Americans also follow their own god and goodness ...
unknown
Yes, because Americans are more inclined to their culture and want to superimpose theirs to the entire world. They always show their supremacy.
Hemendra
why do people deviate from socital norms
cornelius Reply
people deviate from scital norms because their reputation matter that is why they do not involve themself in big issue of society to solve the problem. They see what is going on they are aslo intrested to knew but they not say anything on that time its a human nature which is selfishness kind...
unknown
whar is the correct ans ?
unknown
what*
unknown
what is the difference between sociology, physiology and
Evelyn Reply
what is sociology
Jobee Reply
Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction and culture of everyday life. 
Aamirah
Sociology is simply the study of culture and society
Kooko
sociology is a social science that studies human behavior
Nelly
sociology stands socious. sociology is the study of social awareness to knew the knowlege of social culture and social issue .sociology aways follow the instruction of social behavior in the society . it have some rule and regulation
unknown
sociology is the study of culture and individual behavior of a particular society or community
galiwango
yes August comte is a father of sociology
Salahu Reply
May You give me "Deviance and Conformity" For assignment
Mankai Reply
what is deviance
Abdullahi
Deviance means deviate behaviour (to safe him or her from any social issue of society)and conformity for assignment means conform for work (HE OR SHE is willing to do that work with full of conformation )
unknown
definition of culture
Ameh Reply
culture is habit of a society, pattern of social interaction and life style
fadi
Culture is the totality ways of peoples life.
Nwoye
What is the Scope of Sociology?
Mankai
scope of sociology is the study of social awareness and it have the some diffrent boundaries to follow the some rules and regulations in it
unknown
No..... scope is not correct as told by Akriri
capt
scope is a subject matter where we study about the particular area .Every science have own field of inquiry becouse it is difficult to study science systematically
unknown
scope of sociology is to develop our understanding of societal units and it provides us opportunity to serve them as well through adjoining various social groups and NGOs.
Lokesh
yes.... to some extent scope is subject matter but we must understand scope of sociology by understanding what is NOT a thing to be studied by sociologists eg. phycological aspects.
capt
Identify and criticize 1 psychological theory of sociological development
bobby
what do you make of Karl max's contribution to sociology?
Kategaya Reply
Classic Marxist theory has been criticised for being economically deterministic. Marx argued that 'economic laws' determined not only the shape of society but also the direction of history itself. ... The Communist Revolutions in Eastern Europe did not lead to greater equality and freedom
Yusuf Reply
exactly
Muhammed
sociology ke father kaun hai
Akash
i think auguste comte
fadi
auguste comte
Kinnu
Help me discuss the criticism against Marx's ideal society.
Chika Reply
Hi ı am new here, we can discuss topics if you want😊
Buket
s
fadi
the criticizm of society is calld various of peopel to society ant society to people
Prince
what is a monogamous family?
Mazeena Reply

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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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