065 A Dynamic Response Model Of A Political System

It is clear from what has been said that this mode of analysis enables and indeed compels us to analyze a political system in dynamic terms. Not only do we see that it gets something done through its outputs but we are also sensitized to the fact that what it does may influence each successive stage of behavior. We appreciate the urgent need to interpret political processes as a continuous and interlinked flow of behavior.

If we apply this conceptualization in the construction of a rudimentary model of the relationship between a political system and its environment, we would have a figure of the kind illustrated in Diagram 1. Readers of A Framework for Political Analysis are already familiar with this figure but it is useful to recall its details. In effect it conveys the idea that the political system looks like a vast and perpetual conversion process. It takes in demands and support as they are shaped in the environment and produces something out of them called outputs. But it does not let our interest in the outputs terminate at this point. We are alerted to the fact that the outputs influence the supportive sentiments that the members express toward the system and the kinds of demands they put in. In this way the outputs return to haunt the system, as it were. As depicted on the diagram, all this is still at a very crude level of formulation. It will be our task to refine these relationships as we proceed in our analysis.

But let us examine the model a little more closely since in effect this volume will do little more than to flesh out the skeleton presented there. In interpreting the diagram, we begin with the fact that it shows a political system surrounded by the two classes of environments that together form its total environment. The communications of the many events that occur here are represented by the solid lines connecting the environments with the political system. The arrowheads on the lines show the direction of flow into the system. But rather than attempting to discuss each disturbance in the environment uniquely or even in selected groups or classes of types, I use as an indicator of the impact that they have on the system, the way in which they shape two special kinds of inputs into the system, demands and support. This is why the effects from the environment are shown to flow into the box labelled „inputs“. We must remember, however, that even though the desire for simplicity in presentation does not permit us to show it on the diagram, events occurring within a system may also have some share in influencing the nature of the inputs.

As is apparent, the inputs provide what we may call the raw materials on which the system acts so as to produce something we are calling outputs. The way in which this is done will be described as a massive conversion process cavalierly represented on the diagram by the serpentine line within the political system. The conversion processes move toward the authorities since it is toward them that the demands are initially directed. As we shall see, demands spark the basic activities of a political system. By virtue of their status in all systems, authorities have special responsibilities for converting demands into outputs.