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:
“I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual.”
—Samuel Johnson (17091784)
“In our governments the real power lies in the majority of the community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of government contrary to the sense of the constituents, but from the acts in which government is the mere instrument of the majority.”
—James Madison (17511836)
“The newspapers, I perceive, devote some of their columns specially to politics or government without charge; and this, one would say, is all that saves it; but as I love literature and to some extent the truth also, I never read those columns at any rate. I do not wish to blunt my sense of right so much.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)