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 questions of who should have authority and what the government's influence on its people and economy should be.

Anthropological forms

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

Supranational political systems are created by independent nations to reach a common goal or gain strength from forming an alliance.

Political parties

Political systems do not inherently require the institution of political parties to advance the politics of the political system. Political parties are formed after political systems are put in place.

American political parties

In the case of American politics, Article Two of the United States Constitution, specifically Section I, gives no mention to political parties when describing the presidential election process. It was only after the establishment of the government that the first political parties formed.

George Washington, the first U.S. president was against the establishment of political parties in most circumstances and therefore belonged to no party. In his Farewell Address Washington gives reason for his distrust in political parties, specifically in the newly formed United States. Washington does endorse political parties in some political systems however, specifically monarchies.

Washington was the only President not to be elected through a party oriented election process. Because of this, it is difficult to comment on an America without political party institutions. Washington’s case does point to the original path of the American political system however, one lacking political parties.

Both the U.S. Constitution and Washington provide support for the American political system, a Democracy and Republic, to be founded without political parties. The past has shown this type of system to work well with parties, but nonetheless, these two systems do not require political parties in their institutions.

Over the years the American political system has seen a sharp decline in voter turnout. In 1960, over 63% of the American population cast their presidential votes, whereas by 1996, there were less than 50% of Americans showing up to the polls.


The sociological interest in political systems is figuring out who holds the power in the relationship of the government and its people and how the government’s power is used. There are three types of political systems that sociologists consider.

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 0-316-03497-5.
  • Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. The Real World An Introduction to Sociology. 3rd ed. New York City: W W Norton & Co, 2012. Print.
  • "political system". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2012.
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