U. S. Government: Democracy In Action

Chapter 1: People and Government

Chapter Overviews

Around the world, people live under a variety of governments. Chapter 1 focuses on the four basic forms of government and how they affect the people they govern.

Section 1 introduces the origin and purposes of government. The term state is defined and theories such as evolutionary, force, divine right, and social contact theory attempt to explain why states were created. The four basic purposes of a state are identified. These purposes are maintaining social order, providing public services, providing national security, and making economic decisions.

Section 2 deals with government systems and governing. Similarities and differences of a unitary and federal system are examined, and the relationships that these systems create between the national government and a smaller branch are explained. The term constitution is defined, including the main purposes it serves and how government uses a constitution to govern justly.

Section 3 introduces the three major types of government and defines the characteristics of democracy. All governments belong to one of three major groups: autocracy—rule by one person, oligarchy—rule by a few persons, or democracy—rule by many people. Also, terms such as political party and free enterprise are used to articulate what makes the United States a democracy. For example, democracy succeeds more in countries that have a free enterprise system.

Section 4 examines the role of government in economic systems. Governments around the world create different kinds of economic systems. Three major economic systems are capitalism, socialism, and communism. Each system must make certain economic decisions—first, what and how much should be produced; second, how goods and services should be produced; and third, who gets the goods and services that are produced.

US Government: Democracy In Action
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