Sociopolitical Systems



the term socio-political system refers to systems composed of both social elements and political elements and the interaction between them in asking the question where this governance come from or on what can we base governance on the answer is socio-cultural institutions political systems sit on top of and are dependent upon their underlining social system in though political institutions emerge from and are determinate of the actions and relations between agents within society socio-political analysis helps us to identify and trace processes that span both the social system and the political system such processes cannot be fully interpreted by simply focusing on their manifestation within the political realm in that they have their origins within more fundamental social processes from which they cannot be fully separated one such example would be political movements these processes of change often Ridge innate in informal social groups that over time galvanize into political movements in understanding such issues as racism inequality or popular ism it is required to look not just at the political system itself but also at cultural factors and social factors within the broader community suffice to say studying politics and power as a closed system yields only limited results to understand more fundamental and complex phenomena it is important to recognize political systems as open systems embedded within a broader social system social thumbs are a type of system composed of individual people and the relations between them through which they are interdependent within the whole organization unlike a simple set of people or a group of people where the members may be independent the essence of social systems is the interdependence between members this interdependence means what one does affects another and the whole organization social systems are composed of agents the inch dependent relations between them and the organizational structures that emerge out of their interaction or we call institutions that exist on various levels a social agent is an abstract representation of an individual or organization that has some degree of autonomy in their capacity to make choices and to act independently on those choices in order to make choices agents must have some representation of their environments and some set of rules under which to make those choices we may call this a schema conceptual system a culture or worldview a schema gives the agent the means for classifying and interpreting information from their varmints they have some logic under which to make decisions and they have some full of value system that defines or are better or worse States they then make decisions and take actions to affect their state and that of their environment towards their desired ends thus an agent is not just a decision-maker it is also an actor to be an agent the individual or organization must have the means for effecting its environment in some way a stone is not an agent but a monkey is because it has the use of its body to move things in its environment all agents must have influence over their environments in some way they're able to sense information make decisions based upon their set of rules and take action to achieve their desired state this combination of elements that gives an entity agency may be called a cybernetic system or a regulatory system in that agents use these elements of communication and action to regulate themselves in their environment according to their value system social systems exist wherever there is more than one social actor and their actions are interdependent in some way in the course of pursuing their interests and activities agents inevitably interact and in their interaction they become in some way interdependent what happens to one affects what happens to another and vice versa these relations of interdependence can be defined as positive or negative depending on how the goal attainment of the individuals is related to each other when the goal achievement or benefit of one agent is negatively correlated with another this is called negative interdependence negative interdependence is when one agent can only achieve their desired end by another failing to that is say there is a negative correlation between their States positive interdependence is when there is a positive correlation of some kind between the welfare of each agent in the relation meaning what happens to one also happens to another or win or all lose together these types of interdependence are very fundamental to the dynamics of social systems and describe much of how agents relate to each other they can be seen to strongly affect the dynamics cooperation and competition and the resulting overall social system that emerges reoccuring patterns of interaction between members form what we call social institutions a social institution is a specific pattern of relations between members of the society in their organized and persistent set of relations they provide order to a social system but also serve important social functions these institutions are structures or mechanisms of social order and coordination governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given community they can also be understood as persistent constellations of status roles values and norms the respond in some way to the needs of the society institutions like schools religions armies sports clubs charities businesses governments etc are made of individual members but in order for them to operate successfully they have to organize and coordinate their members within overall processes through which the system performs functions as they require the individual to conform to the specific roles norms and procedures that enable the institution to function effectively this set of rules that members are required to follow may be formal or informal depending on the type of organization and how important it is to itself or workings in order to have institutions individual actors have to give over their agency to the organization that means giving over their own decisions and actions to the organization for it to act as an integrated whole institutions are the aggregation of the agency given over by their members in their combined and synchronized activity the organization as a whole can perform functions and processes the none of its parts can in such a way we get the emergence of new features processes and functions on different levels within the social system individual social actors create the institutional structures but then these institutional structures feed back to constrain the members towards the aims and motives of the whole organization for example in order to enable the process of learning within the classroom students must be relatively quiet and attentive during class in such a way when the students enter the class they give over some of their agency they bind themselves into an agreement that is required for the collective process of the educational institution to take place effectively and the institution will regulate the members through various forms to ensure they conform to its ends thus emerges a complex dynamic between the macro-level institutional structures roles and norms and the individuals agency motifs and interests which can be seen to encompass much of what we study in play school and social science political systems are a type of social institution like all social institutions there are a kind of social agents they are an organization that makes decisions and takes actions based upon those decisions more specifically political systems are type of social institution that makes decisions and acts for the public where public means relating to or affecting a population or community as a whole thus politics emerges naturally after the very defining characteristic of social groups that is to say their interdependence wherever we have interdependence between members what one does affects the others and collective decision-making an action is required to regulate the combined organization we can then see how this idea of interdependence feeds through to the definition of politics where politics can be defined as the process of collective decision-making an implementation the key word here being collective which is captured in the term public politics is the process of collective decision-making an implementation although we formalize political processes into abstract rules and institutions in its essence politics is a very organic part of social systems to have a political system we have to have more than one person and they have to be autonomous in some way that is say there must be the potential for their ideas and actions to diverge in some way in such a case we have a question about how the combined organization will operate whose opinion will be included in the decision-making process how will the process of reaching a combined conclusion be conducted how will it be implemented and enforced answers to these questions will describe the political process of collective decision making an implementation politics and political systems our social institutions could perform a process of management they manage the public realm or we call governance the word governance derives ultimately from a Greek word meaning to steer like a person steering a boat public governance is enacted through a regulatory system which is composed of a number of different institutions such as door makers public administration law enforcement etc all of which we'll discuss in a future module a primary question in the analysis of political systems is to ask on what is the authority or legitimacy of the political system based on what basis does the person come to have influence over the collective decision-making process on what should we base whether someone has a greater or lesser influence the simplest answer to this is force that whoever has the strongest will or can exert the greatest force will be able to overpower the other members and thus exert their will over the combined organization this dynamic was most clearly described by the philosopher Friedrich Hegel in his book the phenomenology of spirit where he noted that when two conscious beings who believe themselves to be absolutely free and unconstrained encounter each other there was a struggle for recognition leading to what he called the master-slave dialectic where one member ultimately has to submit to the other and become the lesser party constrained in the combined organization that is guided by the master who has a greater say in that organization a political system based upon the use of force to determine political decisions and actions leads to what we call an authoritarian political system the continuous struggle over power through force is a highly costly activity as illustrated by the fact the most animals do not directly fight but use various displays of power as proxies thus in most political systems the use of force is not explicit or manifest it is mediated and diffused in many different forms such as propaganda intimidation displays of power manipulation of various kind etc in a political regime based on force power is a central component of the political system in the power is the capacity to get others to do things against their will to effectively exercise power authoritarianism favor or enforce strict obedience to Authority at the expense of personal freedom authoritarian systems emphasize structure over function within the institutions the primary aim is to maintain power and the mechanisms of control most political systems throughout civilized history have been authoritarian in nature originally the state was a military institution for many centuries it was just a territory ruled by a leader such as a king who was surrounded by a small elite group of warriors and court officials essentially a rule by force over a large mass of people slowly however the people gained political representation whereas authoritarian political institutions defined the interests of one or limited number of actors inferencing the overall decision-making process and ensuring their position through forceful structures of obedience political institutions may also be managed according to their functionality within the border society that is to say their results for the overall system can be a basis for their organization instead of force being the basis for participation in decision-making an objective set of rules that apply to all and are designed to achieve optimal outcomes for all can provide a legitimate basis for governance such systems are derived from the application of Reason within a process of decision-making based on discourse between different opinions where the outcome is measured according to its value to the whole of society such political systems instead of being based upon the subjective interests of a few are based upon objective reasons given that are designed to be in the interests of all reason is the capacity to form ideas and opinions based upon a coherent and consistent objective set of logical rules which are an agreement with empirical data it is a rule the one must follow to have an objective reason for one's actions entities that act according to reason or are designed according to reason are called rational rational means to subsume the particular under general rules based upon reason in the case of political institutions this means to subdue the specific particularity z' of any group under general rules defined by all or rules design to be in the interests of all in order to do this it must be that all are equal before the political institutions which then determine eventualities based upon a set of rules derived from reason based discourse what we call the categorical imperative is one example of a rational moral system simply stated the categorical imperative is the rule that one should only do what one wish to become a universal rule this is subjecting one's actions to following an objective rule that is in the interests of everyone instead of the interests of any specific subjective group or individual thus we can say it is a rational moral code taken in the broader context of human civilized history the rise of reason in the modern era is a truly radical phenomenon in that it has required us to discard other sources of social ranking to make all equal before reason for most people that live before the modern era the idea that people are equal and the objective rules of reason should determine things would make little sense to them for us modern people it seems obvious that order comes reason whether this is the order of a universe that we've discovered through scientific inquiry or the rational foundations of our institutions for pre-modern people and societies the order to the world is something that is given and reason has little role to play the order in the world and in society is fixed and given by the social and cultural of each modernity has seen a switch from political organizations based on one status within a community to contract based regulations the new sociologists of the late 19th and early 20th century recognized that industrial society with novel in nature traditional societies related individuals through status and roles within local organizations and in general the paths were highly similar in function modern society increasingly related individuals through explicit legislation governing individual contracts which are voluntary associations between members and society is characterized by a high degree of division of labor the modern era has witnessed a massive rise of rational institutions as they've become the dominant institutional technology of modern societies around the world Richard Price the English philosopher and author in talk about the ongoing French Revolution of his time summarized this when he said the French are rightly replacing Kings with laws and priests with reason and conscience from Plato through to the medieval the idea that a just society could be constructed without virtuous rulers was incomprehensible with the ancients the ethics of individuals could not be separated from the conduct of politics from this perspective political systems had to be ruled by the virtuous and wise if they were to be successful the modern era however took a radical departure from this recognizing that political society will often have to continue without moral virtue and still find a way to be just and stable without him that stable outcomes an order could emerge from the interaction of purely self-interested individuals political theory in the modern era became increasingly based around the idea of the rational self-interested individual and how to develop systems for managing politics based upon reason with an aim to providing the maximum benefit to all governance in the modern era came to be understood in terms of social contracts to serve rational self-interested individuals the rise of rational institutions is most clearly seen in the formation of the social contract theory of the state which rejects the idea the religion or tradition should determine politics social contract theory starts with the idea of humans in a circled state of nature where all are equal which is an explicit rejection of many traditional social systems that engendered inherent inequalities such as the aristocratic system or the Indian caste system thinkers like Thomas Hobbes John Locke and others formulated a basis for public authority as a social contract among rational self-interested individuals for the sake of personal security and advancement modern political philosophy search for the foundations to political organization and legitimacy in the individuals rights and self-interested reasoning the test of a political system can't be formulated as whether the rational self-interested individual would choose it power and authority belong to the law and offices not to individual people those people could only occupy them as long as they perform the functions effectively while tradition and religion was seen to have no place in determining Twigg organization which are very radical ideas given the existing status quo for most of human civilization social contract theories then go on to construct a foundation for government based on the assumption that people are rational beings the idea of social contract theory is that a political system is just if it would be chosen by rational self-interested individuals in a pre social state of equality the so called state of nature because the state of nature is seemed to be a war of all against all as Thomas Hobbes posited out of entirely rational self-interest each individual will come to the conclusion that if they can leave this condition they should do so for purely self-interested reasons everyone will lay down their weapons and cooperate each allowing others an equal amount of freedom as long as this works the individuals will stay true to their agreements and that is the social contract but in order to solidify and strengthen this contract it is necessary to have some overall third party organization to enforce it and make all a day or else it will be a little valium thus power must be transferred to this third party sovereign to allow it to enforce the contract in this way free pre-social individuals out of their rational self-interest come to give up some of their freedom to a political body for the sake of security and advancing their ends the government then only has those powers and rights that the members have given up in that contract this is individualistic in the deposits rights on the individual instead of the whole the individual gives over their rights to the whole most justifications for the modern political community is that order comes from the structures that self-interested citizens freely impose on themselves and is constructed out of the deliberative reasoning and discourse of the people within this political paradigm the government is seen to be a few dicier power to act for certain ends of the community a few dicier is a trustee one who holds money in trust for another in this sense governments are rational institutions for the public goods and this limits government power governments only have the powers given over to them in the social contract and must use them for the common good governments then must always obey their constitutions and governments have many legal and technical limitations on their actions this is the dominant paradigm underlining the modern formulation of governance




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