Ch 13: Elements of American Government

About This Chapter

Use this chapter to review the structure and function of American government. Video lessons and quizzes also cover the rules of American politics, the types of democracy and the rights of U.S. citizens, among other topics.

Elements of American Government - Chapter Summary

Get an overview of the traditional types of government before taking a look at some of the historical influences on American government, such as the American Enlightenment and the political theories of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. You'll also examine America's core values of equality, liberty and self-government alongside the roles of constitutionalism, capitalism and democracy in American politics. Instructors also focus on some of the characteristics of contemporary American politics, such as the emergence of a permanent campaign and the shift in political power from the majority to a few groups. Listed below are just some of the topics discussed in this chapter:

  • Types and functions of government
  • American government structure
  • The American Enlightenment
  • Core values of American government
  • The rules of American politics
  • Sources and types of political power
  • Competing political theories
  • Citizen rights and responsibilities

Let our experienced instructors provide you with a concise yet thorough review of key American government concepts. In addition to short illustrated videos, you'll find transcripts that include links to supplementary text lessons. You can also take the multiple-choice quizzes included with each lesson or the comprehensive chapter test.

14 Lessons in Chapter 13: Elements of American Government
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
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 3 Branches of Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial

4. The 3 Branches of Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial

In 1787, leaders from each of the states gathered to write the United States Constitution. The Constitution sets out how our nation is governed and creates a system that separates powers between different branches. This lesson explores the three branches of our federal government.

The New American Democracy: Definition & History

5. 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.

The American Enlightenment: Intellectual and Social Revolution

6. The American Enlightenment: Intellectual and Social Revolution

For a thousand years, Europe had been living in the Dark Ages until a series of philosophical, religious and scientific movements helped turn on the lights. The Enlightenment began in Europe, but quickly spread throughout America in the 1700s and helped set the stage for a revolution against British rule.

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

7. 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

8. 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

9. 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

10. 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

11. 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.

Thomas Hobbes & John Locke: Political Theories & Competing Views

12. Thomas Hobbes & John Locke: Political Theories & Competing Views

In this lesson, we discuss the two premier English political theorists of the 17th century: Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. We'll also take a look at their impact on Western philosophy in contemporary and modern times.

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

13. 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.

US Citizenship: Rights, Responsibilities & Naturalization Process

14. US Citizenship: Rights, Responsibilities & Naturalization Process

In this lesson, we will consider the expectations placed on U.S. citizens, particularly immigrants who undergo naturalization. Learn the specific rights of citizens as well and what makes citizenship different than permanent residency.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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