Typology of Political Systems in Political Science

Almond and Coleman have studied the developing countries in accordance with their conceptual schemes of seven functional requisites essential for maintaining a political system. In their seven functional categories, they have resorted to the Western model, based on British, American, and French political systems, as their ‘ideal type’, consid­ering them as successful in maintaining their equilibrium. They have used these seven functional categories to make a comparative analysis of the politics of the Third World. They have studied them from the view of maintaining equilibrium.

For this purpose, they have analysed:

(1) Whether functions, required under seven categories to maintain a political system, are being performed, or not? Which categories of functions are playing what part to maintain the equilibrium? Equilibrium is the focus for analysing the functions.

(2) What structures are performing these functions? Are there some specialised structures for performing these functions?

(3) What is the style of their functioning? That style is depicted in the Parsonian language of pattern-variables, on the basis of available data and information.

(4) In view of performance of functions – its efficiency and autonomy, availability of specialised structures, and style or orientation towards equilibrium-political systems have been categorised in accordance with their patterns or stages of development.

They have put the Western model at the top of developmental scale. Edward Shils has pointed out that no non-Western political system has been able to follow it completely. As such, every one of them remains in the transi­tional or developing stage.

Shils has evolved six patterns or models, but Almond and Coleroan have adopted, by the year 1960, only five of them:

1. Political Democracy:

These countries – Japan, Israel, India, etc. have all seven-category-functions and specialised structures too. But their style of working and values have non-democratic orientation.

2. Tutelary Democracy:

Formally, their ‘political systems perform all functions and have structures. But the structures of rule application dominate the rest of outputs, assuming the role of conducting democracy. That time (1960) Ghana and Nigeria were put under this category.

3. Modernising Oligarchy:

Under this pattern, the elite as a class or coterie rules to modernise the country so that democracy in the long run may win over. Democratic constitution is either postponed or suspended. Army or bureaucracy or both dominate the political scene controlling operations of functions for their own purposes. Actual style of their working is anti-equilibrium. Pakistan, Burma, Turkey, Sudan, etc., had been categorised in this manner.

4. Totalitarian Oligarchy:

An oligarchy grabs power and operates the whole system on the basis of coercion. The distinction between society and polity is obliterated. The ruling coterie controls and conducts all inputs, as well as outputs. Almond and Coleman have quoted North Korea, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in this context.

5. Traditional Oligarchy:

There is no evidence of democracy or moderni­sation. Most of them are traditional monarchies which rule in the name of God, Religion, or Tradition. Political rules depend on status and ethnicity. Functions concentrate in the hands of its rulers, and the level of their efficiency and autonomy is very low. Saudi Arabia, former Nepal under monarchy, etc., come under this category.

In the present context, except India, Japan, Ceylon and Israel, most of the developing countries belong to second, third, and fourth categories. Several other scholars, such as, Cohen, Lasswell, Finer etc., have also advanced their own classificatory schemes. But none is exhaustive. Even Almond and Coleman were not satisfied with this typology, and had attempted to improve it further.

Even functions and structures operating in the developed and the developing countries are different. In developed countries, informal and primary structures are acculturated and penetrated by secondary and formal structures. But, the case is reverse in the devel­oping countries, when even ‘political’ functions are sometimes performed by governmental structures.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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