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Ch 1: Introduction to the Study of American Government

About This Chapter

Watch online political science video lessons and take quizzes to learn about participatory democracy, single-issue voters, the definition of politics and more.

Introduction to the Study of American Government - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Trace the philosophical movements and ideals behind America's earliest attempts to form a democratic government by watching this chapter's video lessons. Use them to explore the rules of American politics, the evolution of U.S. democracy and the dynamics of shifting political power. By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Contrast the major forms of government
  • Identify different types of democracy
  • Describe ideals associated with American government
  • Explain the objectives of American political processes
  • Recognize factors contributing to shifts in political power

Video Objectives
What is Government? - Definition, Role & Functions Identifies government's regulatory functions as well as its responsibility to protect citizens and defend the country from foreign aggression.
Traditional Types of Government: Definitions, Strengths & Weaknesses Outlines the benefits and drawbacks of oligarchies, monarchies, democracies and other types of government.
The Core Principles of American Government Provides a brief history of factors shaping American government's core principles.
The New American Democracy: Definition & History Traces the evolution of the U.S. toward a more complex democracy that necessitates a permanent election campaign.
The American Enlightenment: Intellectual and Social Revolution Describes how the American Enlightenment's core values contributed to the independence movement.
America's Core Values: Liberty, Equality & Self-Government Explains how liberty, equality and self-government are widely regarded as America's core political ideals.
Politics: Definition and Source of Governmental Conflict Discusses how politics are centered on the conflict between who should govern and the ends toward which government should work.
The Rules of American Politics: Democracy, Constitutionalism & Capitalism Explores the major rules of American politics and explains how the political process works to encourage equality and self-government.
Political Power: Definition, Types & Sources Explains how concepts like authority and legitimacy relate to political power. Illustrates how political power is distributed in America and defines such terms as class view, power elite view, bureaucratic view and pluralist view.
What is Democracy? - Definition, Types & Principles Describes democracy and differentiates between the different forms, including participatory democracy and representative democracy.
Thomas Hobbes & John Locke: Political Theories & Competing Views Compares and contrasts Thomas Hobbes's and John Locke's views on democracy.
Shifting Power From Majority to Only a Few: Factors & Process Shows how such factors as voter participation and behavior, campaign resources and the nomination process shift power to specific groups.

10 Lessons in Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of American Government
What is Government? - Definition, Role & Functions

1. What is Government? - Definition, Role & Functions

In this lesson, we will examine the various definitions of government. Then we will take a close look at the functions of the U.S. government and the role it plays in citizens' everyday lives.

Traditional Types of Government: Definitions, Strengths & Weaknesses

2. Traditional Types of Government: Definitions, Strengths & Weaknesses

In this lesson, we will explore several traditional types of government. We will define each type and take a close look at its strengths and weaknesses.

The Core Principles of American Government

3. The Core Principles of American Government

In this lesson, we will examine a few of the core principles of American government. We will pay special attention to the ideas of popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism.

The New American Democracy: Definition & History

4. The New American Democracy: Definition & History

In this lesson, we will explore the phenomenon of the 'permanent campaign,' which has changed the face of American democracy. In doing so, we will take a close look at the factors that led to this political development.

America's Core Values: Liberty, Equality & Self-Government

5. America's Core Values: Liberty, Equality & Self-Government

In this lesson, we will examine a few of America's core values. We will focus especially on liberty, self-government, equality, individualism, diversity, and unity.

Politics: Definition and Source of Governmental Conflict

6. Politics: Definition and Source of Governmental Conflict

In this lesson, we will explore the concept of politics. We will examine the various definitions of the word, take a close look at the role of politics in government, and investigate the conflicts sometimes caused by politics.

The Rules of American Politics: Democracy, Constitutionalism & Capitalism

7. The Rules of American Politics: Democracy, Constitutionalism & Capitalism

In this lesson, we will explore the three rules of American politics: democracy, constitutionalism, and capitalism. We will define each rule and see how it works to keep the political system running smoothly.

Political Power: Definition, Types & Sources

8. Political Power: Definition, Types & Sources

In this lesson, we will take a close look at political power. We will define the term, examine its elements, and learn about several theories that help determine who gets to use political power.

What is Democracy? - Definition, Types & Principles

9. What is Democracy? - Definition, Types & Principles

In this lesson, we will study the nature of democracy. We will define the term, take a look at the types of democracy, and examine its basic principles.

Shifting Power From Majority to Only a Few: Factors & Process

10. Shifting Power From Majority to Only a Few: Factors & Process

In this lesson, we will explore factors that have shifted power from the majority of voters to specific groups. We'll pay special attention to voter participation, single-issue voters, uninformed citizens, the nomination of candidates, and campaign expenses.

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