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About this book

Concepts have a particular importance for students of politics and international relations. Political argument often boils down to a struggle over the legitimate meaning of terms and enemies may argue, fight and even go to war, each claiming to be 'defending freedom', 'upholding democracy' or 'supporting justice'. The problem is that words such as 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'justice' have different meanings to different people, so that the concepts themselves come to seem problematic.

This book provides an accessible and comprehensive guide to the major concepts encountered in political analysis. Each term is defined clearly and fully, and its significance for political argument and practice is explored. The text has been updated and expanded to take account of the increasing influence of globalization on politics and now features 70 additional concepts. Renowned for its lively, engaging style and user-friendly approach, the second edition is an invaluable companion to the study of politics and international relations.

Table of Contents

Key Concepts: Their Meaning and Significance

Absolutism is the theory or practice of absolute government. Government is ‘absolute’ in the sense that it possesses unfettered power: government cannot be constrained by a body external to itself. The most prominent manifestation of absolute government is the absolute monarchy. However, there is no necessary connection between monarchy and absolute government. Unfettered power can be placed in the hands of the monarch, but it can also be vested in a collective body such as the supreme legislature. Absolutism nevertheless differs from modern versions of dictatorship, notably totalitarianism. Whereas absolutist regimes aspire to a monopoly of political power, usually achieved by excluding the masses from politics, totalitarianism involves the establishment of ‘total power’ through the politicization of every aspect of social and personal existence. Absolutism thus differs significantly from, for example, fascism.
Andrew Heywood
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