A Developmental Approach to Political Systems
Gabriel A. Almond
... The state cannot be defined in terms of its ends. There is scarcely any task that some political association has not taken in hand, and there is no task that has always been exclusive and peculiar to political associations.... Ultimately, we can define the modern state only in terms of the specific means peculiar to it ... namely, the use of physical force. 1
Contemporary empirical political theory tends to follow Weber in its stress on power and process, the "who" and the "how" of politics. It emphasizes two questions: (1) Who makes decisions? (2) How are decisions made?2 The performance of political systems tends to be inferred from structure and process or evaluated according to moral and ideological norms. When we introduce the concept of capabili‐
ties, their development and transformation, we explicitly add two more questions to the "who?" and the "how?" The first of these is what impact does the political system have, what does it do, in its domestic and international environments? And the second question is, what impact does the society and the international environment have on the political system?
Parsons comes closer to meeting the needs of the contemporary political theorist when he speaks of the function of the polity as that of the "... mobilization of societal resources and their commitment for the attainment of collective goals, for the formation and implementation of 'public policy.' " 3 Francis Sutton similarly emphasizes the importance of the functions of political systems in their social and international environments, stressing integration for the internal environment and representation for the international. 4 The development of the concept of the capabilities of political systems represents a pursuit of these leads, but we have had to go farther in specifying types of relationships between the political system and its environments, for "goal attainment," "integration," and "representation" must be broken down into their components, and these elements treated as continua, if we are to be able to____________________