Glossary of concepts and terms in Political Science

Absolutism: Complete exercise of governmental power without any restriction.

Autarchy: Total independence from external sources. An autarkic country sustains itself with its own resources.

Balance of Power: Theory that explains political, military or economic alliances between countries as strategies against extremely powerful states. Thus, these alliances create the so-called balance of power.

Bureaucracy: Hierarchical organization of the administrative process in which public officials and civil servants follow a clear code of rules.

Cabinet: A group of presidential advisors on specific issues made up mainly of the heads of each ministry.

Cartel: Agreement among producers of a commodity or product to control production and dictate a price on the product.

Census: Official count of the national population organized by the government.

Censorship: Suppression of some form of content on charges of immorality or potential for political volatility.

Certification: A system of verification imposed by the U.S. government on other countries as to whether basic eligibility for U.S. assistance exists. The certification criteria are based on several factors, such as human rights performance and cooperation and effectiveness in the fight against drugs, among others.

Coercion: Use of power to achieve compliance through fear and intimidation.

Comparative Politics: Academic area within political science that studies the similarities and patterns between different political systems.

Demagoguery: Political style in which an attempt is made to gain the sympathy and loyalty of voters by methods that arouse people’s basic emotions and passions.

Depression: Long period of economic recession such as occurred in 1929 after the stock market crash in the United States.

Decentralization: The process of assigning greater administrative responsibility to the various regional sections of the governmental machinery, so that decisive and administrative power is not concentrated in a single institution or area.

Environmentalism: Political ideology whose main purpose is the protection and recovery of the environment.

Globalization: The process of linking countries to the international community in such a way that links of economic and political interdependence are established.

Civil war: War between factions or national groups within the same country.

Ideology: Systematic and causal doctrine or system of thought that attempts to explain a series of political events in a coherent manner.

International Relations: Links or relations established by one country with another, or with a community of countries through institutions such as the diplomatic service or international organizations.

Hegemonic power: State that by its incomparable power and influence assumes the role of regulator in the international system.

Laissez Faire: Central concept of liberal economic policy according to which the market is capable of self-regulation and is even more efficient when it is free of government regulation.

Political Participation: Ratio of votes in an election to the number of active voters.

Pluralism: Level of acceptance of opinions or forces opposed to the ideology or policy of the government in power. Pluralism is when different ideologies or political positions coexist in a political culture or regime.

Plutocracy: A system of government in which people with wealth and money control the state.

Public Policy: Refers to the social or urban projects developed by the government. Generally, these policies have a strong administrative content.

Privatization: The process of selling public or state entities to the private sector with the purpose of alleviating the administrative burden on the government and increasing efficiency.

Protectionism: A set of policies whose purpose is to control the number or type of products entering a country through imports, so that domestic production sectors are not affected by excessive competition.

Terrorism: Indiscriminate use of force and violence against persons or property for the purpose of intimidating governments, individuals or entities into accepting political demands.

Treaty: A legal agreement between two nations. Usually must be signed by the executive and ratified by the legislature.

Unilateralism: Refers to actions taken by a government that do not take into consideration the direct or indirect repercussions they may have on other actors.



  • January 23, 2023