Social Institutions



Authoritarianism is a political system that does not allow citizens to participate in government.

Example: Zimbabwe is controlled by an authoritarian leader whose human rights violations and disastrous economic policies have brought on international condemnation. However, not all authoritarian governments are outcasts. China has an authoritarian government, but it is a member of the World Trade Organization and a major player in international politics.


Totalitarianism is a political system under which the government maintains tight control over nearly all aspects of citizens’ lives.

Example: Cambodia under the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1976 to 1978 was totalitarian. Under the banner of socialism, Pol Pot attempted a radical reformation of Cambodia. He forced the evacuation of the country’s cities and relocated citizens to communal farms in the countryside, where they were to be “reeducated” to become part of an idealized communist agrarian society. Pol Pot’s secret police tortured and murdered over a million “dissenters,” especially those he viewed as urban intellectuals.