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The issue of political system

David EASTON wrote intensively and extensively on the subject of political systems. “The
systemic analysis of the political and social life” – the systemic approach:

- “The political system is a set of interactions abstracted from the totality of social
behaviour through which valuable objects (political resources e. r. political power, time,
force, influence) are assigned in an authorative way in a society.”

- The political system per se is important;

Gabriel ALMOND as opposed to Easton is what we call a functionalist.

- “The political system is a set of interactions that enables the functioning of the global
social system based on role differentiations, as well as on their specialization.”

The political system is a network of political flaws from and towards society, a complex
control system regarding the internal tensions and vice versa from society towards the black box.
The political system should be able to regulate the tensions, modify the environment, and
redefine the goals. It represents the political arrangements of a society embracing all factors that
influence collective decisions, thus including processes of recruitment and of socialization,
parties, voters and social movements which are not a formal part of a government.

How can we link the political system and the political regime?

- The political regime is something that is transitory inside the same political system;

- It is the totality of norms gathered in order to rule the people;

Auguste COMTE & Herbert SPENCER - 5 types of political systems:

1. The one in the primitive society;

2. The antique citadel (the city state & the nation state);

3. The modern democratic state;

4. The totalitarian state;

5. The Empire that is based on the nation state.

Samuel H. EISENSTADT speaks about 7 types of political systems:

1. The primitive system;

2. The patrimonial empire – the Middle Ages empire such as the one of Charles the Great;

3. The nomad or the conquistadoric type of empire;

4. The bureaucratic and centralized empires;

5. The city state;

6. The middle ages feudal system;

7. The modern system – totalitarian, democratic, underdeveloped;



1. The traditional political system – legitimacy is granted by the monarch;

2. The rational legal political system – bureaucracy;

3. The conventional political system – a constitutional democracy based on a large

consensus – tolerance, freedom etc.

Gabriel ALMOND speaks about 4 types of political systems based on the degree of


Modernization oligarchy = a perfect A trusteeship – the legislative body is

system for the elites to show off; the type elected through direct, universal and
of system where administrative periodical elections; market-oriented
bureaucracy is used; a populist system; policies;
Totalitarian oligarchy = a perfect
Political democracy – the accent falls on
overlapping between the party and the
political, on the separation of powers and
state; the power is exercised by a very
on the rule of law; the legitimacy is given
small group; absolutely no public
by the majority of votes;
opposition is allowed;





AGIP - Talcott PARSONS – the political system has 4 subsystems. This approach tells us that
it is important to any social system to adapt to a certain set of goals, to integrate and to maintain
the pattern.

Goal Pattern
Adaptation Integration
attainment maintainance
Social System
Economic Societal Socialization
Political system
system community system

The functions of the political system according to several criteria, by Gabriel Almond:

1. Maintenance & adaptation – the creation of new political roads and the replacement of
the old ones; political recruitment and political socialization;

2. The political conversion – the political requests could be of a wide variety that have to be
somehow reduced into a smaller shape; they should be transformed into legislative issues,
execution problems and valuable means that are going to feed the system  political

3. The extraction – the capacity to mobilize the material and human resources and turn them
into profit;

4. Distribution – the optimal distribution of resources so that the system has an optimal
5. Mobilizing the political resources;

6. Determining the social aims and tasks – policy-making;

7. Integrating the elements of society in social and political structures;

In many political systems, in spite of our little boring drawings, crisis might show up. There
might be crisis related to identity, legitimacy, participation or distribution.

 Sydney VERBA – the identity crisis is all about the disagreements between the elites and
counter elites regarding the common values of the political system. They also do not agree with
the values related to the educational institutions.

 A second type of crisis is the legitimacy crisis, which is about the founding principles of
the political system i.e. the principles that should be able to mobilize common allegiance towards
the political system and the state;

 The participation crisis is about the agreement and disagreement regarding certain social
and political rights to the society at large. The most relevant example regards the voting rights.

 The distribution crisis – who decides? Who takes more, who takes less? etc.

 Centralization vs. decentralization.