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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. Introduction to Political Science
    1. 1 What Is Politics and What Is Political Science?
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 Defining Politics: Who Gets What, When, Where, How, and Why?
      3. 1.2 Public Policy, Public Interest, and Power
      4. 1.3 Political Science: The Systematic Study of Politics
      5. 1.4 Normative Political Science
      6. 1.5 Empirical Political Science
      7. 1.6 Individuals, Groups, Institutions, and International Relations
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  3. Individuals
    1. 2 Political Behavior Is Human Behavior
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 What Goals Should We Seek in Politics?
      3. 2.2 Why Do Humans Make the Political Choices That They Do?
      4. 2.3 Human Behavior Is Partially Predictable
      5. 2.4 The Importance of Context for Political Decisions
      6. Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Review Questions
      9. Suggested Readings
    2. 3 Political Ideology
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 The Classical Origins of Western Political Ideologies
      3. 3.2 The Laws of Nature and the Social Contract
      4. 3.3 The Development of Varieties of Liberalism
      5. 3.4 Nationalism, Communism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism
      6. 3.5 Contemporary Democratic Liberalism
      7. 3.6 Contemporary Ideologies Further to the Political Left
      8. 3.7 Contemporary Ideologies Further to the Political Right
      9. 3.8 Political Ideologies That Reject Political Ideology: Scientific Socialism, Burkeanism, and Religious Extremism
      10. Summary
      11. Key Terms
      12. Review Questions
      13. Suggested Readings
    3. 4 Civil Liberties
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 The Freedom of the Individual
      3. 4.2 Constitutions and Individual Liberties
      4. 4.3 The Right to Privacy, Self-Determination, and the Freedom of Ideas
      5. 4.4 Freedom of Movement
      6. 4.5 The Rights of the Accused
      7. 4.6 The Right to a Healthy Environment
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
    4. 5 Political Participation and Public Opinion
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 What Is Political Participation?
      3. 5.2 What Limits Voter Participation in the United States?
      4. 5.3 How Do Individuals Participate Other Than Voting?
      5. 5.4 What Is Public Opinion and Where Does It Come From?
      6. 5.5 How Do We Measure Public Opinion?
      7. 5.6 Why Is Public Opinion Important?
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  4. Groups
    1. 6 The Fundamentals of Group Political Activity
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Political Socialization: The Ways People Become Political
      3. 6.2 Political Culture: How People Express Their Political Identity
      4. 6.3 Collective Dilemmas: Making Group Decisions
      5. 6.4 Collective Action Problems: The Problem of Incentives
      6. 6.5 Resolving Collective Action Problems
      7. Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Review Questions
      10. Suggested Readings
    2. 7 Civil Rights
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Civil Rights and Constitutionalism
      3. 7.2 Political Culture and Majority-Minority Relations
      4. 7.3 Civil Rights Abuses
      5. 7.4 Civil Rights Movements
      6. 7.5 How Do Governments Bring About Civil Rights Change?
      7. Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Review Questions
      10. Suggested Readings
    3. 8 Interest Groups, Political Parties, and Elections
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 What Is an Interest Group?
      3. 8.2 What Are the Pros and Cons of Interest Groups?
      4. 8.3 Political Parties
      5. 8.4 What Are the Limits of Parties?
      6. 8.5 What Are Elections and Who Participates?
      7. 8.6 How Do People Participate in Elections?
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  5. Institutions
    1. 9 Legislatures
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 What Do Legislatures Do?
      3. 9.2 What Is the Difference between Parliamentary and Presidential Systems?
      4. 9.3 What Is the Difference between Unicameral and Bicameral Systems?
      5. 9.4 The Decline of Legislative Influence
      6. Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Review Questions
      9. Suggested Readings
    2. 10 Executives, Cabinets, and Bureaucracies
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Democracies: Parliamentary, Presidential, and Semi-Presidential Regimes
      3. 10.2 The Executive in Presidential Regimes
      4. 10.3 The Executive in Parliamentary Regimes
      5. 10.4 Advantages, Disadvantages, and Challenges of Presidential and Parliamentary Regimes
      6. 10.5 Semi-Presidential Regimes
      7. 10.6 How Do Cabinets Function in Presidential and Parliamentary Regimes?
      8. 10.7 What Are the Purpose and Function of Bureaucracies?
      9. Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Review Questions
      12. Suggested Readings
    3. 11 Courts and Law
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 What Is the Judiciary?
      3. 11.2 How Does the Judiciary Take Action?
      4. 11.3 Types of Legal Systems around the World
      5. 11.4 Criminal versus Civil Laws
      6. 11.5 Due Process and Judicial Fairness
      7. 11.6 Judicial Review versus Executive Sovereignty
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
    4. 12 The Media
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 The Media as a Political Institution: Why Does It Matter?
      3. 12.2 Types of Media and the Changing Media Landscape
      4. 12.3 How Do Media and Elections Interact?
      5. 12.4 The Internet and Social Media
      6. 12.5 Declining Global Trust in the Media
      7. Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Review Questions
      10. Suggested Readings
  6. States and International Relations
    1. 13 Governing Regimes
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 Contemporary Government Regimes: Power, Legitimacy, and Authority
      3. 13.2 Categorizing Contemporary Regimes
      4. 13.3 Recent Trends: Illiberal Representative Regimes
      5. Summary
      6. Key Terms
      7. Review Questions
      8. Suggested Readings
    2. 14 International Relations
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 What Is Power, and How Do We Measure It?
      3. 14.2 Understanding the Different Types of Actors in the International System
      4. 14.3 Sovereignty and Anarchy
      5. 14.4 Using Levels of Analysis to Understand Conflict
      6. 14.5 The Realist Worldview
      7. 14.6 The Liberal and Social Worldview
      8. 14.7 Critical Worldviews
      9. Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Review Questions
      12. Suggested Readings
    3. 15 International Law and International Organizations
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 The Problem of Global Governance
      3. 15.2 International Law
      4. 15.3 The United Nations and Global Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)
      5. 15.4 How Do Regional IGOs Contribute to Global Governance?
      6. 15.5 Non-state Actors: Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)
      7. 15.6 Non-state Actors beyond NGOs
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
    4. 16 International Political Economy
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 The Origins of International Political Economy
      3. 16.2 The Advent of the Liberal Economy
      4. 16.3 The Bretton Woods Institutions
      5. 16.4 The Post–Cold War Period and Modernization Theory
      6. 16.5 From the 1990s to the 2020s: Current Issues in IPE
      7. 16.6 Considering Poverty, Inequality, and the Environmental Crisis
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  7. References
  8. Index

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About Introduction to Political Science

Introduction to Political Science introduces the broad scope of the political science discipline in a holistic manner via logically connected conceptual building blocks. Rather than discussing theory, comparative politics, and international relations in a purely siloed manner, Introduction to Political Science incorporates major themes from the various subfields of the discipline in a more inclusive fashion. The text focuses on actors, beginning with an examination of individual political actors and then moving on to discuss the actions and interactions of political groups, institutions, and states and international relations. Introduction to Political Science focuses on how and why political realities unfold, from the beliefs and behaviors of individuals to the policies and practices of states.

Introduction to Political Science is designed so that students will see themselves as a part of the world of politics and political science, emphasizing the role that politics and government play in students’ lives and how students can further contribute to civil society. Rather than focusing exclusively on the United States, text chapters discuss politics and government within the United States as a part of a discussion of larger concepts that apply around the world. The text uses a diverse range of international examples to illustrate these concepts. It seeks to include a variety of perspectives and scholarship, including both widely accepted foundational ideas and prominent views from underrepresented, oppressed, and dissenting voices. The Changing Political Landscape features discuss topics such as the growing numbers of women in legislatures and on high courts around the world, changing family structures, and United Nations efforts to involve young people in the fight against racism. In addition to providing thorough explorations of traditional Western perspectives, Introduction to Political Science introduces students to feminism, indigenism, conservative populism, fusionism, and critical race and gender theory. Diversity concerns are inherent in much of the discussion, as the ways in which majorities and minorities interact are central to political decision-making and public policy.

Because not all students who take an introduction to political science course will go on to major in political science, Introduction to Political Science makes connections to broad concepts that transcend course boundaries and emphasizes how the skills students build when learning about political science apply in other fields, in the workforce, and throughout life.

Pedagogical Foundation

Learning Outcomes

Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning outcomes that can guide instructors and students and that they can use to measure understanding. After completing the module, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning outcomes.

Key Features

  • The Changing Political Landscape highlights and illustrates how changing demographics affect politics and political science.
  • Where Can I Engage? provides specific ideas and connections to organizations involved in civic engagement.
  • What Can I Do? outlines political science skills and “soft skills” connected to chapter material that are in demand in today’s job market, both within and outside the field of government and politics.
  • Show Me the Data presents and dissects data visualizations to help students develop their data interpretation skills as well as their substantive knowledge of politics.
  • Connecting Courses links chapter content and concepts to other courses in the general curriculum as well as to common electives.
  • Meet a Professional introduces students to a diverse variety of professionals working in fields related to politics and political science.

Section Summaries

End-of-chapter summaries, broken down by chapter sections, distill the information in each chapter.

Key Terms

Key terms appear in bold and are followed by a definition in context. Key terms are also listed, with definitions, at the end of the chapter.

Review Questions

Multiple-choice review questions at the end of each chapter provide opportunities for students to apply and test the information they learn.

Suggested Reading

These curated suggestions offer students classic and contemporary resources for further learning.

About the Authors

The authors wish to express their deep gratitude to Terri Wise for her skillful editing and gracious shepherding of this manuscript.

Senior Contributing Authors

A person wearing a suit and tie smiles for a portrait.

Mark Carl Rom, Georgetown University

Dr. Mark Carl Rom is an associate professor of government and public policy at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Department of Government. His recent research has focused on assessing student participation, improving grading accuracy, reducing grading bias, and improving data visualizations. Previously, Rom has explored critiques and conversations within the realm of political science through symposia on academic conferences, ideology in the classroom, and ideology within the discipline. He continues to fuel his commitment to educational equity by serving on the AP Higher Education Advisory Committee, the executive board of the Political Science Education section (ASPA), and the editorial board of the Journal of Political Science Education. Prior to joining McCourt, Rom served as a legislative assistant to the Honorable John Paul Hammerschmidt of the US House of Representatives, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a senior evaluator at the US General Accounting Office, and a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation, “The Thrift Tragedy: Are Politicians and Bureaucrats to Blame?,” was the cowinner of the 1993 Harold Lasswell Award from the American Political Science Association for best dissertation in the public policy field. Rom received his BA from the University of Arkansas and his MA and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992.

A person wearing glasses and a turtleneck sweater poses for a portrait.

Masaki Hidaka, American University

Masaki Hidaka has a master of public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she wrote her thesis on media coverage of gaming ventures on Native American tribal lands. She completed her PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation examined the relationship between issue publics and the Internet. She is currently a professorial lecturer at the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Washington, DC, but has taught in numerous institutions, including the National University of Singapore, University College London, and Syracuse University in London. She also worked as a press aide for former San Francisco mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. (and she definitely left her heart in San Francisco).

A person in a gray top smiles for a portrait.

Rachel Bzostek Walker, Collin College

A native of Fort Worth, Rachel Bzostek Walker is the associate dean of academic affairs at Collin College Technical Campus in Allen, Texas. She earned her PhD in political science from Louisiana State University and has a master’s in Israeli politics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her dissertation focused on the preemptive or preventive use of force, and she continues to research in this area as well as exploring the use of active learning in the classroom. She taught full-time for over 15 years at colleges and universities in Missouri, California, and Texas, teaching a wide variety of classes on subjects including international relations, American foreign policy, and Middle Eastern politics, as well as introductory classes in American and Texas government.

Contributing Authors

Emilia B. Carvalho, Lone Star College (Chapter 16)

Rebecca Eissler, San Francisco State University (Chapter 9)

Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida (Chapter 7)

Cassandra Khatri, Lone Star College (Chapter 14)

Timothy Lim, California State University, Los Angeles (General Contributor)

Brenda Norton, Angelo State University (Chapter 11)

Robert Postic, University of Findlay (Chapter 10)

Joseph Prud’homme, Washington College (Chapters 3 and 13)

Shyam Krishnan Sriram, Gonzaga University (Chapter 7)

Victoria Williams, Alvernia University (Chapter 15)


Danny M. Adkinson, Oklahoma State University

Maneesh Arora, Wellesley College

Brittany Arsiniega, Furman University

R. R. Asaadi, Portland State University

Brian Blanchard, Collin College

Shawna M. Brandle, City University of New York

Mark D. Brewer, University of Maine

Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College

Brian Dille, Mesa Community College

Kyle Estes, Occidental College

Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida

Leah Graham, University of North Alabama

Margaret Hanson, Arizona State University

Bill Joseph, Wellesley College

Jared Larson, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Daniella Mascarenhas, Xavier University of Louisiana

Jeffrey Moyer, visiting lecturer, Northeastern University

Carolyn Myers, Southwestern Illinois College

Todd R. Patterson, Northampton Community College

Robert Postic, University of Findlay

Jessica Roisen, St. Ambrose University

Jacob Shively, University of West Florida

Shyam Krishnan Sriram, Gonzaga University

Joseph Stewart, Clemson University

Harvey Strum, Russell Sage College

Rosalinda Valenzuela, Collin College

Francesca Vassallo, University of Southern Maine

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Authored by Jeffrey Moyer, visiting lecturer, Northeastern University.

Test bank. The 400 multiple choice and true/false questions in our test bank are correlated to the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, allowing instructors to customize tests to support a variety of course objectives. The test bank is available in Word format. Authored by Shyam Krishnan Sriram, Gonzaga University.

PowerPoint lecture slides. Using images, key terms, and examples, the PowerPoint slides outline the main points of each chapter, providing a starting place for instructors to build their lectures. Authored by Jeffrey Moyer, visiting lecturer, Northeastern University.

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