Government 2301 Modem

August 1998

Unit 1 - Lecture 1


Introduction to Government 2301

I would like to begin with my favorite definition of government, politics, and political science.

Government is the structure that is always in place that is there to do provide two major functions: government resolves conflict when public opinion becomes divided and government distributes "public goods." These goods may be roads, highways, schools, social welfare, any goods that we need, but which are impractical for us to provide for ourselves. For example, if I had to build my own roads, these roads would go only where I need to go. That would not serve the entire community very well and you can begin to see the problems if we all built our own streets.

Politics is the action that happens within the governmental structure, and

Political Science is an academic discipline in which we study government and politics.

In Government 2301, you will be concentrating on studying politics. This will not be a repeat of High School government. In Government 2302, the concentration is on government (the different branches and levels of government).

In this course, you will be looking primarily at how people work within the system. We will study the development of our Constitution and federalism. We will also examine how people develop their political beliefs and even how they become participants or non-participants in the system. We will look at formal structures for participating - interest groups and political parties. In conjunction with our study of parties, we will look at elections. You will also study a bit of governmental structure at the local level in Texas, as well as studying the demographics of Texas, the Texas Constitution and how the Texas and national levels of government interact.

Much of the materials in this half of the government sequence will be new to you. For example, you may think you know the difference between liberals and conservatives, but here you will get a good understanding of the actual differences (and in what ways they are similar).