Dr Efanodor Harriet O.   (Published 2017)

Dr Harriet O.
See Profile Page

Lecture Note

Lecture seven

Basic concepts in Political Science

Expected outcome: At the end of the topic students should be able to demonstrate sound knowledge of basic concepts in political science

Readings: Ekpekurede, W. and Umukoro (2010) Political Science-An Introduction. Nigeria: AMBIK Press

Ikelegbe A. 2005 (ed) Introduction to Politics. Lagos: Imprints Services

  • Concepts are constructions recognised as essential to knowledge which help to explain a piece of reality. Therefore, in order to have a clear understanding of politics, related concepts such as government, state, sovereignty, legitimacy, power, influence, authority, democracy, power, political participation, political system etc.

  • However, concept such as power and authority, influence and legitimacy, nation and state are interrelated and has been subject to misinterpretation.

Concept of Power and Authority

  • Power the is relational

  • It is the ability of one person or group to control the actions of another person.

  • It is the ability to get things done, to make others do what you want, even if they do not want to do it.

  • A person is said to have power to the extent that he influence the behaviour of others in accordance with his own intentions.

  • Exercise of powers can be through the use of force or persuasion.

Types of power

  • Political power

  • Economic power

  • Military power

  • Religious power

How power is exercised

  • Persuasion

  • Offer of rewards

  • Granting of rewards

  • Threat of punishment

  • Infliction of non-violent punishment

  • Command from a person in authority

  • The use of force

  • Domination

  • manipulation


  • Authority is the legitimate exercise or lawful exercise of political power.

  • Authority is associated with a hierarchy of human relationships, which enables those higher to command those lower in the hierarchy, and which compels those lower in the hierarchy to obey the command of those higher up the hierarchy.

  • Authority is vested in a person because of his role, position and his office within the organisation or society.

  • Authority is often exercised through the use of persuasion.

Types of political authority

  • Traditional authority

  • Legal-rational authority

  • Charismatic authority

Difference between power and authority

Power Authority

  • Ability to command and Influence behavior of another It is legal right to command

  • It rests with person in their capacity It lies in position in an organization

  • It doesn’t follow any hierarchy It is hierarchical in nature

  • Power is personalized cannot be delegated Authority is institutional

  • Power emerges because of personal factors Based on superior-subordinate relationship

  • Power has no relation to position Authority is attached to position

Concept of influence

  • Influence is the ability to affect decisions through persuasion.

  • Influence has the same relational attributes as power.

  • However, the exercise of power depends upon potential use of sanctions, while influence depends largely on persuasion.






Concept of State and Nation

  • State Nation

  • Political concept Ethnic concept

  • It is a legal political entity Ethnic cultural system

  • People organized by law within a definite territory People joined by common will

  • A state must be sovereign Nation might not be sovereign

  • Inhabited by heterogeneous group of people Inhabited by homogeneous group

  • May be composed of several nations May be made up of several states

Political culture

  • Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba outline three types of political culture

  • Parochial : people who don’t care about politics

  • Participant: people are active citizens and closely watch politics

  • Subject: people who are passive

In the political process

  • Parochial political culture: citizens lack knowledge/ interest in political input/output

  • Subject political culture: there is awareness of the process, but citizens are less passive participant

  • Participant: awareness of the process, citizens belief in the right to participate

Political socialization: process of shaping one’s ideas and attitude about government

Agents/ factors that affect political view

  • Family

  • School

  • Government

  • Peers

  • Media

  • Religion

  • Ethnic background

Political participation is any activity which is designed to influence public opinion or decision

Types of political participation

  • Conventional- includes voting, letter writing, contact with representative, campaign, joining groups

  • Unconventional: boycott, demonstration, industrial strike


  • Citizenship refers to the status enjoyed by nationals of a country

  • A citizen owe allegiance to the state.

  • A citizen is entitled to enjoy all civil and political rights.

Rule of law

  • Basic fundamental principles of government.

  • The purpose is to ensure proper application of laws contained in a constitution of a country.

  • Basic tenets are;

  • The supremacy of the law

  • Equality of all before the law

  • Fundamental human right


  • A body of fundamental rules and regulations which spells out the powers and functions of the organs and agencies of the government including the fundamental human rights of citizens.

  • Sources of constitution are;

  • Custom/conventions

  • Past historical experience

  • Judicial precedents, international treaties, constitutional conference and intellectual works.

  • Types of constitution; written, unwritten, rigid, flexible, unitary, federal and confederal.


  • Constitutionalism is the principle that governmental powers should be limited and controlled by enforceable rules of law as contained the constitution.

  • Constitutionalism or constitutional government exist where a country is governed in accordance with the laws of the constitution.

Relationship between constitution and constitutionalism

  • A constitution is the system of governmental laws and principles by which a country is governed.

  • Constitutionalism is governing according to constitutional provisions.


Ekpekurede, W. and Umukoro (2010) Political Science-An Introduction. Nigeria: AMBIK Press

Ikelegbe A. 2005 (ed) Introduction to Politics. Lagos: Imprints Services


Item Type: Lecture note(non-copyrighted)
Format: Word document,   28.11 KB
Copyright: Creative Commons LicenseCreative Commons license
Keywords: Basic, concept, Political science
Department: Political Science and Public Administration
Field of Study: Political Science
Uploaded By: Izevbekhai Michael Nurudeen
Date Added: 26 Oct 2017 11:01am
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2017
Lecture URL: https://www.edouniversity.edu.ng/oer/lecturenotes/basic_concepts_in_political_science

Google Docs     Print     Download

'); printWindow.document.close(); printWindow.print(); };