Feedback loops of a political system

A political system does not differ from other social systems in this respect. Especially in large scale systems, we can expect, to find unlimited numbers and varieties of feedback loops. Diagram 5 depicts the flow of outputs and of inputs of support for a political system. Six basic types of loops are identified. These are only illustrative; they are by no means exhaustive. They could be quickly multiplied by connecting any two actors in the system wherever it appears plausible that mutual interaction would occur, based at least upon information feedback. The fact is that if we find any two subsystems within a political system or any subsystems within a system and outside a system that are linked together in such a way first, that the outputs of one become the inputs of the other and second, that thereby some effort at regulation of the relationship may take place, we can say that they are joined by feedback ties. Feedback is the dynamic aspect of this kind of coupling between systems or subsystems. We can see this clearly represented in the diagram. Loop I indicates that among the producers of the inputs of demands and support, such a linkage may occur. One member (or group of members) in a system may express his political views to another; the other may respond critically or otherwise; in the light of the response, the first member may change his opinions or behavior. The illustration does not add much to an understanding of the relationship when stated so simply, without including the properties that a dynamic analysis will later bring out as associated with the feedback processes. I point to it only to show that there is a type of feedback process confined exclusively to the input sector of the system. Loop II shows a loop that has sprung up between one of these two members who is receiving some benefits, let us say, from an interest group, as indicated by the broken line and its direction, and who returns support as his response. The shading on all lines may be ignored for the moment. Although the diagram cannot show this, the behavior of the interest group could be influenced and controlled in the next round by this return of support and so on in a mutually interactive process. Loop III describes the path that feedback follows between the same interest group and a political party. In return, presumably for benefits received, the interest group in its turn is provided with support by the party; the converse is usually equally true. Loop IV is another boundary loop, but this time between the party previously mentioned and a unit that produces outputs for the system as a whole, let us say some part of the administrative services. This unit may itself be linked in a feedback process with the executive of the political system. In this event, as indicated by Loop V, the feedback of information about support is confined to the producers of outputs. Finally, through the systemic feedback loop,— numbered VI — which is one of many possible loops, the outputs of the executive flow back to influence the behavior of the individual (or group) with whom we first began, a producer of inputs of support and demands. His (or its) reaction to these outputs, let us assume, are communicated directly back to the executive as shown by the cross-barred line of alternate dots and dashes. But it could just as easily have been diagramed as passing through several intermediary demand-collecting and, as we shall see, support-collecting agencies, represented here by interest groups, parties, or mass media. One such alternative path is indicated by the shaded line flowing from the producer of the inputs through the interest group, party, and administrative agency to the executive.