Government is broadly defined as the administrative organization with authority to govern a political state. In British English (and that of the Commonwealth of Nations), a government more narrowly refers to the particular administrative bureaucracy in control of a state at a given time—known in American English as an administration. In American English, government refers to the larger system by which any state is organized. Furthermore, government is occasionally used in English as a synonym for governance.
In the case of its broad definition, government normally consists of legislators, administrators, and arbitrators. Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy of the state. A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized.
States are served by a continuous succession of different governments. Each successive government is composed of a body of individuals who control and exercise control over political decision-making. Their function is to make and enforce laws and arbitrate conflicts. In some societies, this group is often a self-perpetuating or hereditary class. In other societies, such as democracies, the political roles remain, but there is frequent turnover of the people actually filling the positions.
Government of any kind currently affects every human activity in many important ways. For this reason, political scientists generally argue that government should not be studied by itself. They argue that government should be studied along with anthropology, economics, history, philosophy, science, and sociology.
Famous quotes containing the word government:
“Visit the Navy-Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts,a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“[F]rom Saratoga [N.Y.] till we got back to Northampton [Mass.], was then mostly desert. Now it is what 34. years of free and good government have made it. It shews how soon the labor of man would make a paradise of the whole earth, were it not for misgovernment, and a diversion of all his energies from their proper object, the happiness of man, to the selfish interests of kings, nobles and priests.”
—Thomas Jefferson (17431826)
“A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”
—Woodrow Wilson (18561924)