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Principles of Sociology 16/17
Government &
the Economy
Power & Authority
• power = the ability to exercise one’s will
over others and to achieve one’s goals
despite opposition (Weber).
–Can be exercised in political systems
through force, authority, or persuasion.
• authority = power that has been
institutionalized and is recognized by
subordinates as legitimate.
Understanding Power & Authority
• Imagine that you decide to steal someone’s parking space at school one day …
– SCENARIO #1: the person in the other car gets out with a tire iron and threatens you.
Frightened, you move your car – this is power by force.
– SCENARIO #2: the person in the other car approaches your car in tears and explains how
bad their day is going. You feel bad for them and move your car – this is power by
persuasion.
– SCENARIO #3: before the other person can do anything, a campus security officer who
saw what you did walks over and asks you to move. You don’t like it, but you recognize
the officer’s legitimate right to require this – this is power by authority.
Power & Authority
• Three Types of Legitimate Authority:
– Charismatic: power is made legitimate by the strong
personality of an individual leader (= “charisma”).
• Authority depends less on a person's ancestry or office
and more on their ability to attract loyal followers.
• Charismatic individuals are able to assume leadership by
inspiring devotion and obedience.
• Routinization of charisma transforms authority into some
combination of traditional and bureaucratic authority.
Charismatic Authority
Power & Authority
• Three Types of Legitimate Authority:
–Traditional: legitimate power is conferred by
custom; conservative, routine, consistent.
• Power legitimized through respect for long
established cultural patterns.
• Authority declines as societies industrialize.
• Traditional authority is also a source of strength
for patriarchy [Examined in Chapter 13].
Traditional Authority
Power & Authority
• Three Types of Legitimate Authority:
– Rational-Legal: with rationalization, groups are
organized on a rational basis (based on function or
objective).
• Power is legitimized by legally enacted that require no
additional justification.
• Rationally enacted rules also guide the use of power in
everyday life.
• Authority resides not in the person but in the office.
• Weber’s primary example: bureaucracies.
Rational-Legal
Authority
Political Systems
• monarchy = rule by one person or family that is passed
on through inheritance, such as a king or queen.
– absolute (hereditary or divine right) = typically found in
societies that have yet to industrialize (EX: Saudi Arabia;
Kuwait).
• The recent political unrest throughout the Middle East indicates
growing resistance to this form of political system in today's world.
– limited (by law)
– constitutional (merely symbolic) = monarchy is symbolic, with
elected officials actually ruling (EX: Great Britain).
Political Systems
• oligarchy = rule by a few elite individuals.
• authoritarianism = control by rulers who deny
popular participation in government (EXs: Saudi
Arabia, Bahrain, Ethiopia).
– Authoritarian government is indifferent to people's
needs.
– dictatorship = a single ruler has almost total power.
– military junta = rule by military leaders, typically
seized from the government.
Political Systems
• totalitarianism = the government controls all aspects of
a society’s public and private life (EXs: Nazi Germany;
North Korea).
– Highly centralized political system that extensively regulates
people's lives.
– Seeks to bend people to the will of the government.
– In the contemporary globalized world, some totalitarian
governments seek to present the rest of the world with
propaganda suggesting that they really do care for their
people.
Political Systems
• democracy = ruling power is held by the people.
– direct participatory democracy = requires that all citizens be
able to meet together regularly (the U.S. is too large for this to
work).
– representative democracy = certain individuals are elected to
speak on behalf of the people.
• U.S. representatives are found in the Senate and the House.
– It can be argued that the U.S. is not truly democratic:
• There is extensive use of unelected bureaucratic officials.
• The wealthy have much more political influence than the poor.
Theories: Structural-Functionalist
• Purpose of Government (Durkheim):
– Socialize people to be good citizens.
– Regulate the economy effectively.
– Provide necessary services for citizens.
• Four Main Functions of Government:
– Maintain law and order.
– Plan and direct society.
– Meet social needs.
– Handle international relations.
Theories: Structural-Functionalist
• Pluralist model:political power is widely dispersed
throughout many competing interest groups.
– This model assumes that people share a consensus and that
the government serves important functions that no other
institution can fulfill.
– Based on this model, there is a genuine sense in which “the
people” rule in the U.S.
– This may explain things like the successes of lobbying groups,
the emergence of groups like the Tea Party, and the revival of
populist politics in the 2016 election (with Sanders on the
left and Trump on the right).
Theories: Social-Conflict
• Power Elite (Mills): a small ruling elite of military, industrial, and
executive branch leaders that tend to replicate themselves by
circulating between the 3 spheres of power.
– The corporate rich are the most powerful.
– Mills analyzed the U.S. as a vast bureaucracy (Weber) that is actually ruled
by an oligarchy.
• Ruling Class (Domhoff): Emphasizes the roles played by the corporate
rich and leaders in policy-forming organizations.
– Free speech and the right to vote give citizens some limited power.
• Marxist Political-Economy Model:
– Analysis that explains politics in terms of the operation of a society's
economic system.
Changing Politics in the U.S.?
• In the 2016 Presidential campaigns and election, it appeared that
many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum had
grown tired of establishment politics.
• Could Left-wing support for Bernie Sanders and the nomination
and election of Donald Trump point to significant changes in
American politics?
The U.S. Political System
• Class Position:
– The U.S. majority represents a mixture of conservative and liberal
attitudes, with much smaller numbers at the two extremes.
• Politics & Minorities:
– Political preferences and attitudes often vary along lines of both gender
and race/ethnicity.
– Minorities are underrepresented in government and female politicians are
often covered differently by the media.
– African Americans are generally more liberal than whites.
– Women tend to be more liberal than men.
• In terms of age, younger voters tend to be more moderate to
liberal.
The U.S. Political System
• Participation vs. Apathy:
– Americans are less likely to vote today than a century ago.
• Only half of registered voters participated in the 2000 presidential
election.
• Participation rose to 57.5% in 2012.
• People with a bigger stake in U.S. society are more likely to vote.
• Who votes?
– U.S. voters are often people in the higher social classes.
– The vast majority of Americans do not participate in the political
process.
– This has been especially true among ethnic minorities and young
adults.
Economic Systems
• economy = the social institution that maintains
society through the production, distribution,
and consumption of goods and services.
• Three Sectors of Production:
 primary (preindustrial) = extraction of natural
resources (mining, farming, fishing).
 secondary (industrial) = the transformation of raw
materials into consumer goods through
manufacturing processes.
 tertiary (postindustrial) = production of services and
information.
The Global Economy
• global economy = expanding economic activity that crosses
national borders, linking centers of commercial activity
worldwide through globalization processes.
• Five Consequences of the Global Economy:
– Global division of labor.
– More products pass through many nations.
– National governments no longer control the economic activity
within their borders.
– Small number of businesses control a vast share of the world's
wealth.
– Concerns raised about the rights and opportunities of workers.
Economic Systems: Capitalism
• capitalism = an economic system featuring private
ownership of the means of production, with profit
derived through free-market competition.
• “Justice” in a capitalist system amounts to
marketplace freedom.
• Four Features of Ideal Capitalism:
– Private ownership of the means of production.
– Pursuit of profit.
– Competition and consumer choice.
– Lack of government intervention.
Economic Systems: Capitalism
• Pursuit of Profit:
– Originally, it was assumed that the “invisible hand” (Adam Smith)
would ensure that the pursuit of profits was good for everyone.
– However, profits have actually become concentrated among some
and not others.
• Competition:
– monopoly = a single firm controls the market (illegal in the U.S.).
– oligopoly = a few companies dominate a particular market (EX: U.S.
automobile industry).
– shared monopoly = four or fewer companies supply over half of a
market.
Economic Systems: Capitalism
• Lack of Government Intervention:
– As originally conceived by Adam Smith in The Wealth
of Nations (1776), capitalism should have zero
government interference.
– This is an ideal that has never actually existed.
– Instead, we practice a modified form of laissez-faire,
where people can compete freely with limited
government interference.
• Also called the free market or free enterprise system.
Economic Systems: Socialism
• socialism = economic system in which natural
resources and means of producing goods and
services are collectively owned.
• An ideal system described by Marx & Engels that has
never existed.
• Theoretically ends economic exploitation through
the collective ownership of the means of
production.
• communism = all property is communally owned
and a classless society is advocated.
Economic Systems: Socialism
• Three Characteristics of Socialism:
–Collective ownership of property
–Pursuit of collective goals
–Government control of the economy
• “Justice” in a socialist context is meeting
everyone's needs in roughly equal manner.
Comparing Systems
Capitalism
• Economic productivity
– GDP is $13,500
• Economic equality
– More income disparity
• Personal freedom
– Emphasizes freedom to
pursue personal self-
interest.
Socialism
• Economic productivity
– GDP is $5,000
• Economic equality
– Less income disparity
• Personal freedom
– Emphasizes freedom
from basic want.
Economic Systems: Mixed Economies
• mixed economy = combines elements of capitalism and
socialism (popular in our globalized world today).
– democratic socialism = the government takes certain strategic
goods and services into public ownership (free elections
remain).
– welfare capitalism = economic and political system that
combines a market-based economy with social welfare
programs.
– state capitalism = economic and political system in which
companies are privately owned but cooperate closely with
government.
The Underground Economy
• Unreported transfer of money, goods, or
services.
– Includes crime, but also failure to report
legally earned income.
• Difficult to track.
• A significant part of the economy in
developing nations.
• Can be dysfunctional for workers: unsafe
conditions; no benefits; experience at
such jobs does not count with many
legitimate employers.
A Corporate World
• Corporations:
– Corporations are entities that function as if they are alive: corporations do
things, and even commit crimes.
– Just a few large corporations dominate our economy.
– Economic concentration has created the conglomerate.
– Federal law forbids monopolies, but allows oligopolies.
• Globally …
– Corporations account for most of the world's economic output.
– The largest corporations are based in the U.S., Japan, and Western Europe,
but their marketplace is the entire world.
– Low-income countries contain most of world's population, natural
resources, and cheap labor (all exploited by large corporations).

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Week 9: Government and the Economy

  • 1. Principles of Sociology 16/17 Government & the Economy
  • 2. Power & Authority • power = the ability to exercise one’s will over others and to achieve one’s goals despite opposition (Weber). –Can be exercised in political systems through force, authority, or persuasion. • authority = power that has been institutionalized and is recognized by subordinates as legitimate.
  • 3. Understanding Power & Authority • Imagine that you decide to steal someone’s parking space at school one day … – SCENARIO #1: the person in the other car gets out with a tire iron and threatens you. Frightened, you move your car – this is power by force. – SCENARIO #2: the person in the other car approaches your car in tears and explains how bad their day is going. You feel bad for them and move your car – this is power by persuasion. – SCENARIO #3: before the other person can do anything, a campus security officer who saw what you did walks over and asks you to move. You don’t like it, but you recognize the officer’s legitimate right to require this – this is power by authority.
  • 4. Power & Authority • Three Types of Legitimate Authority: – Charismatic: power is made legitimate by the strong personality of an individual leader (= “charisma”). • Authority depends less on a person's ancestry or office and more on their ability to attract loyal followers. • Charismatic individuals are able to assume leadership by inspiring devotion and obedience. • Routinization of charisma transforms authority into some combination of traditional and bureaucratic authority.
  • 6. Power & Authority • Three Types of Legitimate Authority: –Traditional: legitimate power is conferred by custom; conservative, routine, consistent. • Power legitimized through respect for long established cultural patterns. • Authority declines as societies industrialize. • Traditional authority is also a source of strength for patriarchy [Examined in Chapter 13].
  • 8. Power & Authority • Three Types of Legitimate Authority: – Rational-Legal: with rationalization, groups are organized on a rational basis (based on function or objective). • Power is legitimized by legally enacted that require no additional justification. • Rationally enacted rules also guide the use of power in everyday life. • Authority resides not in the person but in the office. • Weber’s primary example: bureaucracies.
  • 10. Political Systems • monarchy = rule by one person or family that is passed on through inheritance, such as a king or queen. – absolute (hereditary or divine right) = typically found in societies that have yet to industrialize (EX: Saudi Arabia; Kuwait). • The recent political unrest throughout the Middle East indicates growing resistance to this form of political system in today's world. – limited (by law) – constitutional (merely symbolic) = monarchy is symbolic, with elected officials actually ruling (EX: Great Britain).
  • 11. Political Systems • oligarchy = rule by a few elite individuals. • authoritarianism = control by rulers who deny popular participation in government (EXs: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Ethiopia). – Authoritarian government is indifferent to people's needs. – dictatorship = a single ruler has almost total power. – military junta = rule by military leaders, typically seized from the government.
  • 12. Political Systems • totalitarianism = the government controls all aspects of a society’s public and private life (EXs: Nazi Germany; North Korea). – Highly centralized political system that extensively regulates people's lives. – Seeks to bend people to the will of the government. – In the contemporary globalized world, some totalitarian governments seek to present the rest of the world with propaganda suggesting that they really do care for their people.
  • 13. Political Systems • democracy = ruling power is held by the people. – direct participatory democracy = requires that all citizens be able to meet together regularly (the U.S. is too large for this to work). – representative democracy = certain individuals are elected to speak on behalf of the people. • U.S. representatives are found in the Senate and the House. – It can be argued that the U.S. is not truly democratic: • There is extensive use of unelected bureaucratic officials. • The wealthy have much more political influence than the poor.
  • 14. Theories: Structural-Functionalist • Purpose of Government (Durkheim): – Socialize people to be good citizens. – Regulate the economy effectively. – Provide necessary services for citizens. • Four Main Functions of Government: – Maintain law and order. – Plan and direct society. – Meet social needs. – Handle international relations.
  • 15. Theories: Structural-Functionalist • Pluralist model:political power is widely dispersed throughout many competing interest groups. – This model assumes that people share a consensus and that the government serves important functions that no other institution can fulfill. – Based on this model, there is a genuine sense in which “the people” rule in the U.S. – This may explain things like the successes of lobbying groups, the emergence of groups like the Tea Party, and the revival of populist politics in the 2016 election (with Sanders on the left and Trump on the right).
  • 16. Theories: Social-Conflict • Power Elite (Mills): a small ruling elite of military, industrial, and executive branch leaders that tend to replicate themselves by circulating between the 3 spheres of power. – The corporate rich are the most powerful. – Mills analyzed the U.S. as a vast bureaucracy (Weber) that is actually ruled by an oligarchy. • Ruling Class (Domhoff): Emphasizes the roles played by the corporate rich and leaders in policy-forming organizations. – Free speech and the right to vote give citizens some limited power. • Marxist Political-Economy Model: – Analysis that explains politics in terms of the operation of a society's economic system.
  • 17. Changing Politics in the U.S.? • In the 2016 Presidential campaigns and election, it appeared that many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum had grown tired of establishment politics. • Could Left-wing support for Bernie Sanders and the nomination and election of Donald Trump point to significant changes in American politics?
  • 18. The U.S. Political System • Class Position: – The U.S. majority represents a mixture of conservative and liberal attitudes, with much smaller numbers at the two extremes. • Politics & Minorities: – Political preferences and attitudes often vary along lines of both gender and race/ethnicity. – Minorities are underrepresented in government and female politicians are often covered differently by the media. – African Americans are generally more liberal than whites. – Women tend to be more liberal than men. • In terms of age, younger voters tend to be more moderate to liberal.
  • 19. The U.S. Political System • Participation vs. Apathy: – Americans are less likely to vote today than a century ago. • Only half of registered voters participated in the 2000 presidential election. • Participation rose to 57.5% in 2012. • People with a bigger stake in U.S. society are more likely to vote. • Who votes? – U.S. voters are often people in the higher social classes. – The vast majority of Americans do not participate in the political process. – This has been especially true among ethnic minorities and young adults.
  • 20. Economic Systems • economy = the social institution that maintains society through the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. • Three Sectors of Production:  primary (preindustrial) = extraction of natural resources (mining, farming, fishing).  secondary (industrial) = the transformation of raw materials into consumer goods through manufacturing processes.  tertiary (postindustrial) = production of services and information.
  • 21. The Global Economy • global economy = expanding economic activity that crosses national borders, linking centers of commercial activity worldwide through globalization processes. • Five Consequences of the Global Economy: – Global division of labor. – More products pass through many nations. – National governments no longer control the economic activity within their borders. – Small number of businesses control a vast share of the world's wealth. – Concerns raised about the rights and opportunities of workers.
  • 22. Economic Systems: Capitalism • capitalism = an economic system featuring private ownership of the means of production, with profit derived through free-market competition. • “Justice” in a capitalist system amounts to marketplace freedom. • Four Features of Ideal Capitalism: – Private ownership of the means of production. – Pursuit of profit. – Competition and consumer choice. – Lack of government intervention.
  • 23. Economic Systems: Capitalism • Pursuit of Profit: – Originally, it was assumed that the “invisible hand” (Adam Smith) would ensure that the pursuit of profits was good for everyone. – However, profits have actually become concentrated among some and not others. • Competition: – monopoly = a single firm controls the market (illegal in the U.S.). – oligopoly = a few companies dominate a particular market (EX: U.S. automobile industry). – shared monopoly = four or fewer companies supply over half of a market.
  • 24. Economic Systems: Capitalism • Lack of Government Intervention: – As originally conceived by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776), capitalism should have zero government interference. – This is an ideal that has never actually existed. – Instead, we practice a modified form of laissez-faire, where people can compete freely with limited government interference. • Also called the free market or free enterprise system.
  • 25. Economic Systems: Socialism • socialism = economic system in which natural resources and means of producing goods and services are collectively owned. • An ideal system described by Marx & Engels that has never existed. • Theoretically ends economic exploitation through the collective ownership of the means of production. • communism = all property is communally owned and a classless society is advocated.
  • 26. Economic Systems: Socialism • Three Characteristics of Socialism: –Collective ownership of property –Pursuit of collective goals –Government control of the economy • “Justice” in a socialist context is meeting everyone's needs in roughly equal manner.
  • 27. Comparing Systems Capitalism • Economic productivity – GDP is $13,500 • Economic equality – More income disparity • Personal freedom – Emphasizes freedom to pursue personal self- interest. Socialism • Economic productivity – GDP is $5,000 • Economic equality – Less income disparity • Personal freedom – Emphasizes freedom from basic want.
  • 28. Economic Systems: Mixed Economies • mixed economy = combines elements of capitalism and socialism (popular in our globalized world today). – democratic socialism = the government takes certain strategic goods and services into public ownership (free elections remain). – welfare capitalism = economic and political system that combines a market-based economy with social welfare programs. – state capitalism = economic and political system in which companies are privately owned but cooperate closely with government.
  • 29. The Underground Economy • Unreported transfer of money, goods, or services. – Includes crime, but also failure to report legally earned income. • Difficult to track. • A significant part of the economy in developing nations. • Can be dysfunctional for workers: unsafe conditions; no benefits; experience at such jobs does not count with many legitimate employers.
  • 30. A Corporate World • Corporations: – Corporations are entities that function as if they are alive: corporations do things, and even commit crimes. – Just a few large corporations dominate our economy. – Economic concentration has created the conglomerate. – Federal law forbids monopolies, but allows oligopolies. • Globally … – Corporations account for most of the world's economic output. – The largest corporations are based in the U.S., Japan, and Western Europe, but their marketplace is the entire world. – Low-income countries contain most of world's population, natural resources, and cheap labor (all exploited by large corporations).