Political Systems and Economic Change
To understand the operation of political systems, we need to take the position of a transcendent observer who sees the political situation "from above." By soaring above the political landscape, the analyst not only gains a theoretical overview of the whole scene below but can also observe the more concrete details, especially how the specific parts fit into the larger picture. Systems theorists stress the need for historical analyses of political change across diverse societies. Instead of functioning in a static equilibrium, the parts of a political system-- culture, structure, behavior--change over time. Political leaders articulate different interpretations of general values. The power of domestic social groups, governmental agencies, and foreign institutions changes over the long run. As structural transformations occur, political leaders and citizens change their behavior. 1
By using abstract models of political systems, we can better understand the distinctive policy processes that occur in specific societies. Models are cognitive maps (pictorial representations) illustrating the linkages among the analytical components of a political system. Rather than empirical descriptions of concrete government agencies, models represent simplified pictures portraying the dominant modes of political decision making, that is, distinctive ways of formulating and implementing public policies. Often within a single country, elites supporting divergent political systems compete for supremacy. These conflicting systemic tendencies--for example, reconciliation vs. bureaucratic-authoritarian-- serve as a source of change in the dominant mode of political production.
Part I explores four models of political systems: folk, bureaucratic-authoritarian, reconciliation, and mobilization. The classification is based on three key analytical dimensions: (1) the ranking and interpretation of cultural values that shape policy priorities; (2) the structural power that governments, political parties, domestic social groups, and foreign institutions exert over the policy process; (3) the behaviors of leaders and masses. We first explore the distinctive