Political Definitions





Essay 1: Political Definitions

Significant perplexities have persisted over the notion of political development. Despite its origins within the field of political science, confusion over its definition has been compounded due to the conflict between the concepts derived by policy-makers and political leaders and the assertions presumed by contemporary scholars. As an outcome, different definitions have been provided based on the authoritative framework, the political culture, and the usual political process. In this respect, one of the most rational definitions of political development is based on the notion of mobilization and power. Simply, this perspective connects political development with the abilities possessed by a particular political system. The last reasonable delineation of political development comprises the view on mobilization and participation. With such factors, pragmatic delineations of political development are based on the perspectives of mobilization and power and the viewpoints regarding mobilization and participation.

Political Development as Mobilization and Power

In conditions whereby political development is viewed in form of a sufficient increase within the society’s degree of absolute power, it is more likely to distinguish an objective for development as well as a myriad of traits/qualities related with development. Most of these aspects can be enumerated. Therefore, it is possible to create and establishment development-based indices. Factors in such rules of measurement may constitute penetration and pervasiveness of mass media. This may be assessed via the circulation of newspapers and the supply of radios within a particular society. Other factors may comprise the tax foundation of the community, the share of population within government and their allocation in different classes of activities, and the share of resources distributed towards education, national protection, and social welfare.

The perspective of mobilization and power connects political development based on the capacities of a general political system. These capacities include the capability of the respective system to organize the resources, manipulate power, and utilize the said resources to maximization. Based on this viewpoint, political system can be assessed in relation to the extent to which a political system can use a certain level of absolute power in order to mobilize its resources. Hence, the recognition that political structures must abide by some tests of performance and have some utility towards the society develops the notion of political development as the level of a system’s capability. Even though it is arguable that democracy can lessen a system’s efficiency, it is also assumed that a system’s efficiency can be measured. However, measuring the efficiency of a political system does not solely rely on the aspect of mobilization and as such, depends on the level of power available for such processes.

With the notion of political development as a view of mobilization and power, it should be noted that one of the main aspects of a respective political system comprises the presence of authoritarian or autocratic decision-makers. In a society based on this theory, the regime that controls a significant portion of power may exercise it and attain success especially in asserting dominance over the mass population. Jackman (37) notes that regardless of military strength or otherwise, successful regimes comprise those that can exercise power. However, the implications of the military on the exercise of power are not ignored. Accordingly, the military offers a political significance since it provides regimes that possess political ambitions with opportunities (Jackman 37). Hence, the assertion of power assumes an imperative role in establishing the effectiveness of a political system. This further elucidates the success of the military regime in Chile for nearly a decade.

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that the capability of exercising power and mobilizing resources does not ultimately create a rudimentary, autocratic perspective of political development as simply the government’s capacity to attain resources from its society. The ability to arrange and distribute resources is generally affected crucially by support for the regime. Indeed, the popular support commanded by a specific regime determines the ability of the respective political system to engage in the mobilization of resources. Hence, this elucidates the capability of democratic systems especially in mobilizing resources effectively than repressive authoritarian regimes. Undeniably, in practicality, the concern of attaining considerable political development in numerous societies may comprise the awareness of greater popular favor. This is because a high degree of support can enable the political structure to achieve a stronger level of mobilization. In this instance, the respective perspective fails to overcome the implications that participation (by the society) imposes on mobilization.

Political Development as Mass Mobilization and Participation

The shortcomings of the perspective of mobilization and power are accounted for in this particular concept. This element of political development entails the responsibility of civilians in relation to novel standards of allegiance and attachment. More understandably, in certain former colonies, the domineering perspective of what comprises political development involves a type of political initiation in which former subjects evolve into participative and dedicated civilians. Additionally, this perspective extends to the implications that affective and mass-demonstrational factors of popular politics constitute their own ends. In this respect, both civilians and leaders feel as if that their society is advancing towards national development due to the intensity and regularity of demonstrations based on mass political fervor. Nonetheless, political development may involve some level of extended popular participation. However, it is imperative to distinguish within the conditions regarding this expansion.

The present state of Chile provides an effective illustration of the significance of mobilization and participation in defining political development. Over the years, particularly between 1973 and 1981, Chile experienced a series of mass mobilizations aimed at the regime from 1983. The engagement in these forms of social uproar defines the essence of political development under mass mobilization and participation. Foremost, the involvement of social mobilizations illustrates the inability of an authoritarian regime to rule via repression (Garreton 2). Notably, military regimes tend to exercise power via repressive means. Such actions are usually adopted in order to dispel society from engaging in any form of demonstration due to the impositions of fear. In Chile, the regime’s enactment and implementation of a Constitution that excluded the Left parties from the respective system introduced a new wave of repression that would dispel the opposition from questioning the government and any participation in political activity (Garreton 6).

Aspects of political development as mobilization and power are evidenced by the level of absolute power possessed by the Chilean regime after organizing a coup d’ etat. However, the shortcoming in this concept lies in the absence of activities inclined towards the mobilization of resources. Regarding the concept of mass mobilization and participation, it is evident that the acts of the regime at the time represent the extent to which autocratic regimes emphasize on directives that lead to reduced mobilization. Interestingly, the first act by the regime under President Pinochet involved repressing any form of political activity during the transition period. As such, the opposition and the society were restricted from participating in mass processes involving demonstrations and other activities that signified resistance to the government. However, based on the concept at hand, it is evident that such an action represents the inclination of military regimes towards repressive measures when they first attain power.

Establishment of the respective constitution by the Chilean military regime and its negative implications provide an assertion of what Jackman reveals as the difference between force and power. After installation of the new Constitution, massive mobilizations and social protests commenced particularly in 1983. The disappointed middle classes facilitated demonstrations. Even though the regime attempted to repress the mobilizations, different forms of protests and demonstrations occurred based on labor suffrage and economic concerns. With the example of these effects, it is evident that a significant disparity exists between force and power. Jackman (38) notes that the use of force by a regime tends to lead to unsuccessful governments. By using repressive means, the Chilean military regime influenced a political awakening characterized by different types of mass mobilizations and considerable demonstrations throughout the country.


To this end, the convolution facing the notion of political development is evidenced by the different forms of processes, occurrences, and systems that occur and exist in most political structures. Viewing political development as mobilization and power reflected the extent to which the attainment of power enables a government or a political system to establish control in the mobilization of resources. However, a major downside to the theory is its failure to account for incidences that involve the rejection of power and mobilization of resources by certain states. In this case, the perspective of mass mobilization and participation defines political development pragmatically, especially with the illustration of the state of Chile.






















Works Cited

Garreton, Manuel Antonio. “Popular Mobilization and the Military Regime in Chile: The Complexities of the Invisible Transition.” Working Paper .103 (1988): 1-23. Print.

Jackman, Robert W. Power Without Force: The Political Capacity of Nation States (Analytical Perspectives on Politics). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993. Print.




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