Political Science: An Introduction / Edition 12

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Balancing practical and theoretical knowledge, Political Science is a comprehensive and jargon-free introduction to the field’s basic concepts and themes. This bestselling brief book uses diverse real-world examples to show readers the value of avoiding simplifications in politics, the relevance of government, and the importance of participation. Written from Mike Roskin’s unique and engaging point-of-view, Political Science remains the best at providing the clear explanations, practical applications, and current examples that will welcome readers to a vital field of study.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Roskin stands out from other texts due to its focus on both content and methodological issues. A comprehensive and well-written introduction to the discipline of political science, Roskin gets students to not only consider what political scientists know but also how they know it.”–Anika Leithner, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo

The new edition of a textbook for an undergraduate introductory political science course. Chapters cover classic and modern theories, nations and government, individuals and constitutions, democracy and authoritarianism, political ideologies, political culture, public opinion, political communication and the media, interest groups, political parties and party systems, elections, institutions of government, bureaucracy, the courts, political economy, violence and revolution, international relations, and the global system. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205075942
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 3/2/2011
  • Series: MyPoliSciKit Series
  • Edition number: 12
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 376,389
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael G. Roskin is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Lycoming College.

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Table of Contents

1) Brief Table of Contents

2) Full Table of Contents

1) Brief Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Politics and Political Science

Chapter 2: Theories

Chapter 3: Ideologies

Chapter 4: States

Chapter 5: Constitutions

Chapter 6: Regimes


Chapter 7: Political Culture

Chapter 8: Public Opinion


Chapter 9: Political Communication

Chapter 10: Interest Groups

Chapter 11: Parties

Chapter 12: Elections


Chapter 13: Legislatures

Chapter 14: Executives and Bureaucracies

Chapter 15: Judiciaries


Chapter 16: Political Economy

Chapter 17: Political Violence

Chapter 18: International Relations

2) Full Table of Contents

Part I: The Bases of Politics

Chapter 1: Politics and Political Science

The Master Science

Key Concepts: “Never Get Angry at a Fact”

Political Power

Key Concepts: Legitimacy, Sovereignty, and Authority

Key Concepts: The Subfields of Political Science

How To... Study a Chapter

Is Politics a Science?

Key Concepts: Concepts and Precepts

Key Concepts: Politics Versus Political Science

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 2: Theories

Classic Theories

Classic Works: Not Just Europeans

Contemporary Theories

How To... Make Thesis Statements

Key Concepts: Models: Simplifying Reality

Key Concepts: Politics as a Game

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 3: Political Ideologies

What Is Ideology?

The Major Ideologies

Classic Works: The Origins of Ideologies

Key Concepts: Classifying Ideologies

How To... Support Your Thesis

Ideology in Our Day

Is Ideology Finished?

Comparing: Islamism: A New Ideology with Old Roots

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 4: States

Institutionalized Power

Key Concepts: Effective, Weak, and Failed States

Classic Works: Aristotle’s Six Types of Government

Unitary or Federal Systems

Comparing: The Shaky Lives of Confederations

Electoral Systems

Comparing: French and German Variations

States and the Economy

How To... Use Sources

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 5: Rights

Constitutions in the Modern World

Comparing: The Dangers of Changing Constitutions

Comparing: Canada’s New Constitution

The Adaptability of the U.S. Constitution

Key Concepts: What Is a Right?

Freedom of Expression in the United States

How To... List References

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 6: Regimes

Representative Democracy

Key Concepts: The “Two-Turnover Test”

Democracy in Practice: Elitism or Pluralism?


How To... Write Tightly

Key Concepts: Image and Reality of Total Control


Key Concepts: Dahl’s “Influence Terms”

The Democratization of Authoritarian Regimes

Key Concepts: Why Democracies Fail

Comparing: Democracy in Iraq?

Key Terms

Further Reference

Part II: Political Attitudes

Chapter 7: Political Culture

What Is Political Culture?

Key Concepts: Civil Society

Classic Works: The Civic Culture

The Decay of Political Culture

Comparing: America the Religious

Political Subcultures

How To... Use Quotations

Comparing: Quebec: “Maîtres Chez Nous”

Key Concepts: Culture and Development

Political Socialization

Classic Works: The Authoritarian Personality

Comparing: China Builds Unity

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 8: Public Opinion

Key Concepts: What Public Opinion Is and Isn’t

The Shape of Public Opinion

Key Concepts: Classic Opinion Curves

Public Opinion Polls

Key Concepts: A Short History of Polling

How To... Identify and Use Variables

American Opinion

Classic Works: Almond’s Three Publics

Is Polling Fair?

Key Terms

Further Reference

Part III: Political Interactions

Chapter 9: Political Communication

Communication in Politics

Classic Works: The Two-Step Flow of Mass Communications

Key Concepts: The Tendency to Media Monopoly

Key Concepts: The Elite Media

The Giant: Television

Key Concepts: The Web: The Newest Mass Medium?

How To... Define Variables

Are We Poorly Served?

Key Concepts: The Framing of News

The Adversaries: Media and Government

Key Concepts: The Media and Watergate

Key Concepts: The Media and War

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 10: Interest Groups

What Is an Interest Group?

Key Concepts: How Interest Groups Differ from Political Parties

Key Concepts: How Government Creates Interest Groups

Key Concepts: Countervailing Power

Effective Interest Groups

Comparing: French Antipluralism

Comparing: How Powerful Are U.S. Unions?

How To... Create Tables

Interest Groups: An Evaluation

Classic Works: Olson’s Theory of Interest Groups

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 11: Parties

Functions of Parties

How To... Create a Cross-Tabulation

Parties in Democracies

Key Concepts: Parties that Ignore Voters

Classifying Political Parties

Classic Works: Duverger’s Three Types of Parties

Classic Works: Kirchheimer’s “Catchall” Party

Party Systems

Key Concepts: What Is a “Relevant” Party?

Comparing: Multiparty Systems Are More Fun

Classic Works: Sartori’s Types of Party Competition

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 12: Elections

Why Do People Vote?

Who Votes?

Classic Works: Downs’s Theory of Voting

How To... Handle Tendencies

Who Votes How?

Comparing: Is the U.S. Electoral System Defective?

Electoral Realignment

Key Concepts: Partisan Polarization

What Wins Elections?

Key Concepts: Changing Positions

Key Terms

Further Reference

Part IV: Political Institutions

Chapter 13: Legislatures

Presidential and Parliamentary Systems

Key Concepts: Head of State Versus Chief of Government

Classic Works: Where Did the U.S. System Originate?

Key Concepts: Bicameral or Unicameral?

What Legislatures Do

Key Concepts: Pork-Barrel Politics

How To... Conduct a Longitudinal Study

The Decline of Legislatures

Key Concepts: Congressional Overspending

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 14: Executives and Bureaucracies

Presidents and Prime Ministers

Comparing: Israel’s Directly Elected Prime Ministers

Classic Works: Lasswell’s Psychology of Power

Comparing: Authoritarianism Returns to Russia

Key Concepts: An Imperial Presidency?

Executive Leadership


Classic Works: American Paranoia

How To...Create Graphs

The Danger of Expecting Too Much


Classic Works: Weber’s Definition of Bureaucracies

Bureaucracies in Comparison

Key Concepts: Bureaucratic Rulemaking

Comparing: Japan: Bureaucrats in Command

The Trouble with Bureaucracy

Key Concepts: Bureaucratic Politics

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 15: Judiciaries

Types of Law

Classic Works: The Roots of Law

Key Concepts: Common Law Versus Code Law

The Courts, the Bench, and the Bar

Comparing Courts

Comparing: Law in Russia

The Role of the Courts

Classic Works: Marbury v. Madison

How To... Construct a Scattergram

Key Terms

Further Reference

Part V: What Political Systems Do

Chapter 16 Political Economy

Government and the Economy

Comparing: How High Are U.S. Taxes?

How To... Create Maps

Who Is Entitled to What?

Key Concepts: What Is Poverty?

Key Concepts: Poverty and Ideology

How Big Should Government Be?

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 17: Political Violence

System Breakdown

Key Concepts: Terrorism

How To... Construct a Thinkpiece

Key Concepts: Rising Expectations


Key Concepts: Revolutionary Political Warfare in Vietnam

Comparing: The Iranian Revolutionary Cycle

After the Revolution

Comparing: Violent vs. Velvet Revolutions

Key Terms

Further Reference

Chapter 18: International Relations

Power and National Interest

Key Concepts: Types of National Interest

Key Concepts: Why War?

Keeping Peace

Key Concepts: The Democratic Peace

Beyond Sovereignty?

How To... Avoid “They”

U.S. Foreign Policy: Involved or Isolated?

Key Concepts: The Importance of Economics

Classic Works: Klingberg’s Alternation Theory

Classic Works: Kennan’s Dinosaur Analogy

Classic Works: Thucydides on War

Key Terms

Further Reference

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IT IS INDEED GRATIFYING to see a book one has worked on reach an eighth edition; it means one is doing something right. It also means that the editors at Prentice Hall recognize that the approach used in the first edition of 1974 was sound and should not be greatly altered. The success of the book owes something to the fact that it is neither a U.S. government text nor a comparative politics text. Instead, it draws from both U.S. and comparative examples to introduce the whole field of political science to new students.

The eighth edition continues an eclectic approach that avoids selling any single theory, conceptual framework, or paradigm as the key to political science. Attempts to impose a methodological grand design are both unwarranted by the nature of the discipline and unconducive to the broadening of students' intellectual horizons. Instructors with a wide variety of viewpoints have no trouble using this text. Above all, the eighth edition still views politics as exciting and tries to communicate that feeling to young people approaching the discipline for the first time.

Instructors familiar with earlier editions will see some changes in the eighth edition. I have come to recognize the importance of introducing methodologies early in an undergraduate's career. I'm not thinking of high-level numbers crunching—which I neither engage in nor advocate—but of a reality-testing frame of mind that looks for empirical verifiability. I often discuss methodologies in class in connection with student papers, but decided for this edition to insert them—one methodological point per chapter—in the text in feature boxes entitled "How To." Theseboxes include thesis statements, endnotes, quotations, tables, cross-tabs, percentages, graphs, and other standard fare, all at the introductory level. I hope instructors find this useful and I am open to suggestions to alter or add to these points. I also added some vocabulary words to the Key Terms throughout the chapters. The definitions are in the context under discussion; change that context and you may need another definition. There is a difference, for example, between the governing elites discussed in Chapter 5 (a tiny fraction of 1 percent of a population) and public-opinion elites discussed in Chapter 8 (probably several percent).

Some material—such as Key Concepts, Case Studies, and Classic Works—continues to appear in feature boxes, both to highlight the material and to vary the text format, making the text reader-friendly. The discussion of electoral systems has been consolidated from Chapter 11, "Political Parties and Political Systems," and Chapter 13, "The Basic Institutions of Government," into Chapter 12, "Elections." Those who have used previous editions will have no trouble using the eighth edition, as the overall structure of the text stays the same.



— This Website brings an online study guide to students and a valuable tool to professors. When students log on, they will find a wealth of study and research resources. Chapter outlines and summaries with special features from the book, true/false tests, fill-in-the-blank tests, and multiple-choice questions, all with immediate feedback and chapter page numbers, give students ample opportunity to review the information. The site also includes a large variety of links to sites pertaining to material covered in each chapter of the text. For professors, there is a faculty resource section that includes links to helpful sites, graphics to download from the book, and textual PowerPoint slides to use in presentations.


An instructor's manual with test item files on diskette are available to instructors from their Prentice Hall representative.


Prentice Hall's testing software program permits instructors to edit any or all items in the Test Item File and add their own questions. Other special features of this program, which is available for Windows and Macintosh, include random generation of an item set, creation of alternative versions of the same test, scrambling question sequence, and test preview before printing.


Several people reviewed this edition and earlier editions, and I sincerely considered most of their comments. For this edition, I wish to thank my Lycoming colleagues who reviewed the new "How To" feature boxes and offered valuable advice: Gene Sprechini of our math department, John Whelan of our philosophy department, and Gary Hafer of our English department. I also wish to thank Paul J. Best of Southern Connecticut State University and Victor E. Obasohan of Cerritos College, both of whom reviewed the entire manuscript for Prentice Hall.

Are further changes needed in the book, or have I got it about right? Instructors' input on this matter-or indeed on anything else related to the text or supplementary materials—is highly valued. Instructors may contact me directly at Lycoming College at Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701, or by e-mail.

Michael G. Roskin

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