In political science, a political system defines the process for making official government decisions. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the questions of who should have authority and what the government influence on its people and economy should.
Anthropologists generally recognize four kinds of political systems, two of which are uncentralized and two of which are centralized.
- Uncentralized systems
- Band society
- Small family group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.
- A band can cease to exist if only a small group walks out.
- Generally larger, consisting of many families. Tribes have more social institutions, such as a chief or elders.
- More permanent than bands. Many tribes are sub-divided into bands.
- Centralized governments
- More complex than a tribe or a band society, and less complex than a state or a civilization
- Characterized by pervasive inequality and centralization of authority.
- A single lineage/family of the elite class becomes the ruling elite of the chiefdom
- Complex chiefdoms have two or even three tiers of political hierarchy.
- "An autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages or communities under the permanent control of a paramount chief"
- Sovereign state
- A sovereign state is a state with a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.
- Supranational political systems
- Supranational political systems are created by independent nations to reach a common goal or gain strength from forming an alliance.
- Empires are widespread states or communities under a single rule. They are characterized by the rulers desire for unanimous religious affiliation or posing as threat for other empires in times of war.* Empires often made considerable progress in ways of democratic structures, creating and building city infrastructures, and maintaining civility within the diverse communities. Because of the intricate organization of the empires, they were often able to hold a large majority of power on a universal level.*
- Leagues are international organizations composed of states coming together for a single common purpose.* In this way leagues are different from empires, as they only seek to fulfill a single goal. Often leagues are formed on the brink of a military or economic downfall. Meetings and hearings are conducted in a neutral location with representatives of all involved nations present.