Ch 1: Political Science Concepts

About This Chapter

Use our video lessons to help you learn about some of the fundamentals of political science. Get information on political power, American politics, citizenship and government.

Political Science Concepts - Chapter Summary

The video lessons in this chapter offer a look at the foundations of political science, including the definition of politics, rules of American politics and types of political power. You will get an idea of how power is shifted to the few who are in control, and learn about political justice and political rights.

Other lessons examine citizenship and the definition of countries, nations, states and governments. Our instructors will talk about the role of government and what social contracts are. After completing this chapter's lessons, you should be able to:

  • List sources of governmental political conflict
  • Explain what democracy, constitutionalism and capitalism are
  • Detail types and sources of political power
  • Name functions of government
  • Analyze theories of rights and natural laws
  • Describe the differences between totalitarianism and authoritarianism
  • State examples of social contracts

These short video lessons include multiple-choice quizzes that allow you to assess your knowledge. The jump feature in the video timelines makes it easy to return to the right point in the lesson for review. Each lesson also includes a written transcript, which highlights key terms and concepts for easy reference. Still have questions? You can contact our professional instructors for assistance.

16 Lessons in Chapter 1: Political Science Concepts
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
What is Political Science?

1. What is Political Science?

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle once called political science the master science. In this lesson, you'll learn what political science is, different subfields in the discipline, and why the study of political science is important.

Politics: Definition and Source of Governmental Conflict

2. 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

3. 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

4. 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.

Political Legitimacy & Authority

5. Political Legitimacy & Authority

If you've ever gotten a speeding ticket or had a bad experience at the DMV, you probably wondered who gave them the authority to treat you like that. In a roundabout way, you did, as this lesson demonstrates.

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

6. 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.

Political Justice and Political Rights

7. Political Justice and Political Rights

Some of the greatest questions in political thought revolve around the nebulous concepts of justice and rights. In this lesson, we'll be exploring these complex concepts. You'll also have a chance to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz.

Civil Society and Citizenship

8. Civil Society and Citizenship

Citizenship and civil society are important concepts in the study of political science. In this lesson, you'll learn what citizenship is and what it means for people that hold it. You'll also learn about the important role of civil society in a democracy.

The Difference Between Countries, Nations, States, and Governments

9. The Difference Between Countries, Nations, States, and Governments

The study of political science requires you to relearn familiar terms that hold a different meaning than found in common everyday usage. In this lesson, you'll learn about the difference between countries, nations, states and governments.

Representation in Political Science

10. Representation in Political Science

Given the size and complexity of a modern state, direct democracy is impractical, if not infeasible. In this lesson, you'll learn about representative democracy, its different forms, and how it differs from direct democracy.

Theories of Ethics: Rights & Natural Laws

11. Theories of Ethics: Rights & Natural Laws

Legal rights are those rights provided to citizens through the Constitution and other articles of the US legal system. Natural rights are rooted in the ethical, based on what is right or wrong. Learn more about ethics in this lesson.

What is Government? - Definition, Role & Functions

12. 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.

What is Democracy? - Definition, Types & Principles

13. 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.

What is Autocracy? - Totalitarianism vs. Authoritarianism

14. What is Autocracy? - Totalitarianism vs. Authoritarianism

In this lesson, you'll imagine living in an autocracy. You will consider what would change if you went from an authoritarian society to a more totalitarian approach to government.

The Purpose of a Transitional Government

15. The Purpose of a Transitional Government

In this lesson, you'll imagine what it would be like to live in a country where the government has just been overthrown. We'll discuss the purpose of transitional governments and what challenges they face.

What is a Social Contract? - Definition & Examples

16. What is a Social Contract? - Definition & Examples

Learn about the idea of a social contract. Then you can understand how the concept has helped people to create modern governments all over the world that are more responsible to their citizens.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
Not Taken
Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
Not Taken

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