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Exam focus – Keypoint on the Basic Concepts of Government such as Power, Authority, Legitimacy, Sovereignty, Political socialization

What is Power
Power is the ability to control the actions of others through the possession of means of sanctions.
What are the Forms of power

  • Political Power: This is the type of power exercised by the government in steering the affairs of the state.
  • Physical Power: Also known as naked power involves the use of physical force to compel obedience.
  • Economic Power: This involves the use of economic resources at a person’s disposal in controlling the actions of others.
  • Military Power: This type of power is exercised by those who control the instrument of suppression like the armed forces.

What are the sources of power or means of acquiring power

  • Through the constitution
  • Through inheritance
  • From the position of authority
  • Through coercion
  • The use of charisma
  • Control of economic resources.

What is Authority
Authority is the power or right to give orders and enforce obedience. It therefore, gives one the right to command others to obey as a duty.
What are the sources of Political authority

  • Traditional Authority: This is derived from hereditary families based on existing customs and tradition.
  • Legal Authority: This is derived from the constitution.
  • Charismatic Authority: The source of this type of authority is the exceptional personal characteristics.

Types of authority

  • Political Authority: This is the power bestowed on a group of individuals by the constitution
  • Coercive Authority: This is the type of authority involving the use of force.
  • Charismatic Authority: This type of authority is based on the extraordinary personal qualities of an individual.
  • Delegated Authority: This is the authority conferred on a subordinate to exercises certain powers on specified matters.
  • Technical Authority: This is the power one exercises based on his technical know- how.
  • Traditional Authority: This is a power legitimated and defined by customs and traditions.
  • Legal-Rational Authority: This is power legitimated and defined by law and held by those who are legally qualified.
  • Positional Authority: This is the type of power one exercises as a result of the position the person holds.

What is Legitimacy
The term legitimacy is derived from the Latin word ‘legitimus’ and it means lawful or according to law. Therefore, legitimacy means a situation of being lawful. It may also be said that legitimacy is the general acceptance of the political system as the most appropriate and is in line with the laws of the land.
What are the factors that determine or affect Legitimacy

  • Popular Participation: For a political system to be accorded legitimacy, the various interest groups such as political parties, pressure groups, etc must be allowed to take part.
  • Popular Support: A government is said to be legitimate if it receives the popular support of the citizens.
  • Good Government: People accord legitimacy to a government which meets up their expectations to good governance.
  • Foreign Diplomacy: The foreign policies adopted by a government of a country determine the legitimacy other nation will accord to such government.

What is Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the absolute power of the state to exercise supreme legal authority over its own affairs within the territory without any form of external control.
What are the characteristics of Sovereignty

  • Absoluteness: The powers of a sovereign state have no restriction. Absoluteness is also known as limitless.
  • Permanence: Sovereignty which is permanent exists so long as the state exists.
  • Indivisibility: The powers of the sovereign which is supreme, absolute, final and coercive cannot be divided or shared.
  • Comprehensiveness: The power of the sovereign is wide in scope and all-embracing which is binding on all persons or groups within the territorial jurisdiction.
  • Inalienability: The powers of the sovereign cannot be given away or transferred.
  • The absence of Foreign Control: The power of a sovereign state is supreme within its territorial jurisdiction without any foreign control.

Types of sovereignty

  • Legal Sovereignty: This is the power to make and enforce laws in a given state.
  • Political Sovereignty: Also known as popular sovereignty is the supreme power vested in the people to form a government of their choice.
  • De Facto Sovereignty: This is sovereignty acquired with the use of coercion.
  • De Jure Sovereignty: This is sovereignty acquired in accordance with the laws of the land as opposed to the use of force.
  • Internal Sovereignty: This is the supreme power of the state to make and enforce laws within its territorial area of jurisdiction.
  • External Sovereignty: This is the supreme power of the state to conduct its affairs without foreign interference.

What are the Limitations to the sovereignty of the state

  • Membership of international organizations.
  • The influence of powerful nations.
  • External aids.
  • The supremacy of the constitution.
  • Complexities of modern government.
  • Customs and traditions.
  • Influence of pressure groups.
  • Coup d’ etat.
  • International laws.

What is Political culture
Political culture may be defined as the attitudes, sentiments, beliefs, ideas, and norms that guide the behaviour of the people in the apolitical system.
What are the components of Political Culture

  • Cognitive Orientation: This concerns the beliefs and knowledge people have with regard to the political system.
  • Evaluative Orientation: This refers to the extent the people can evaluate or critically assess the functioning of their political system.
  • Affective Orientation: This concerns the feeling of the people towards the political system.

What is Political socialization
This refers to a process by which the citizens are educated on the values, attitudes and beliefs of the political system.
What are the Agents of Political socialization

  • The family
  • The school
  • The peer group
  • Political parties
  • The mass media
  • Religious groups
  • Pressure groups

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