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:
“Liberty is the air that we Americans breathe. Our Government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free. That civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against the abuse of freedom.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945)
“There exists in a great part of the Northern people a gloomy diffidence in the moral character of the government. On the broaching of this question, as general expression of despondency, of disbelief that any good will accrue from a remonstrance on an act of fraud and robbery, appeared in those men to whom we naturally turn for aid and counsel. Will the American government steal? Will it lie? Will it kill?We ask triumphantly.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“I have no doubt but that the misery of the lower classes will be found to abate whenever the Government assumes a freer aspect and the laws favor a subdivision of Property.”
—James Madison (17511836)