History of Government Books and Academic Articles on Questia – where to begin your research

Government booksUndergraduates studying political science and/or law might want to take advantage of Questia’s archive of government books and articles. Back on March 7, we posted how to conduct quantitative research and in a time when Congress and the President continue to debate the significance of the country’s public debt, we at Questia thought it was high time to review systems of government.

Government is defined as a political system by which a country or community is administered and regulated, according to the Britannica Encyclopedia. Early human civilization saw divisions between social groups manifesting themselves into primitive dictatorships where one ruler or king would arise to control the lives of many.  Classical Greek philosopher Plato described five types of government or “regimes,” and they are Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy and Tyranny. Aristocracy is a government ruled by elites; Timocracy is a system of governance ruled by honorable citizens and property owners; Oligarchy is a power structure where rule rests with a few; Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens are eligible to have an equal say in all matters that affect their lives; Tyranny is rule by a tyrant, or someone with absolute authority and/or rule.

American government traces its history back to the late 18th century, when influential delegates including James Madison, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin came together on May 25, 1787 at the Pennsylvania State House to craft the United States Constitution. It was Madison who wanted a strong central government to provide order and stability. Delegates devised such a plan including the creation of three branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would ever have too much power.

Advocates for world government, a notion of a single common political authority for all of humanity has yet to come to pass. In 1945, representatives from 50 countries came together in San Francisco, California to draw up the United Nations Charter.  But the United Nations serves primarily in an advisory capacity and has no jurisdiction over the entire planet. Governments today are faced with a huge array of challenges and demands placed on it. The Arab spring is one of the more recent examples of governments being directly challenged by a youth revolution inspired by today’s global technological platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. To be efficient and more responsive to a fast changing environment, governments must learn to leverage a new set of tools so it can evolve in the 21st century.

For our readers, we wanted to share excerpts from our librarian-selected government books and articles so you can expand upon any of the topics briefly alluded to in this post in your research.

U.S. Constitution

A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments, 3rd Edition

Author: John R. Vile

Author John R. Vile wrote his book as a companion piece to the U.S. Constitution in order to help readers better understand and appreciate one of the most unique documents in the world. Vile takes readers back to the Colonial time period providing important background on relations between the original 13 colonies and Great Britain.


What Is Democracy?

Author: Alain Touraine, Translator: David Macey

This book is an extension of the reflections with which the author ended his previous work, Critique of Modernity. Alain Touraine seeks to demonstrate that there is a necessary link between democratic culture and the idea of the subject.

European Union

“Europe’s Autumn? Popular Sovereignty and Economic Crisis in the European Union” The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations. Volume: 13. Issue: 1

Author: Vincent Della Sala

In this article, the author’s aim is to argue that the European Union’s fundamental problems in the face of its economic crisis are rooted in a lack of popular sovereignty. The consequences for the EU resulting from the post-2008 economic crisis will remain unclear for some time, but one lesson seems to be emerging in its myriad forms, popular sovereignty matters.

United Nations

Humanitarian Intervention and the United Nations

Author: Norrie Macqueen

Author Norrie Macqueen is focused solely with the use of military contingents to manage local conflicts. While concentrating on military action the book also embraces such undertakings by the United Nations.

Political Parties

“Continuity and Change in the Organization of Political Parties” Canadian-American Public Policy. Issue: 78

Author: Mildred A. Schwartz

Author Mildred A. Schwartz evaluates continuity and change of political parties through the lens of organizational co-evolutionists. Schwartz treats continuity and change in party organizations through the interaction between environmental and institutional factors with strategic actions.

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  1. […] generation in ways phenomenally different from their predecessors. We previously posted about the history of government and this time around wanted to provide some pivotal resources for those of you studying and writing […]

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