To help in understanding the processes at work and their related variable structures, Diagram 3 depicts the logical alternatives with regard to flow patterns of demands in any system, regardless of type, time and place. Of necessity, the diagram presents a crude and highly oversimplified approximation of the possible paths taken by demands as they move through the system. Nevertheless, using it as a point of departure, the box stands for the political system; and outside it is the total environment, intra-societal and extra-societal. In the environment, the general, nonpolitical opinions, preferences, interests, ideologies and similar ideas and attitudes, what we shall be calling wants, are formed. As members of society express these wants in the form of expectations or desires that binding decisions should be taken with respect to them, they are by definition converted into demands and have become part of the political processes of that society. The conversion of wants takes place at the boundary and is identified by the shaded arrows.
Inside the box the various solid arrow lines represent pathways or channels along which demands are borne as they move from their first emergence on the scene to their crystallization, in whole part or part, into binding decisions and implementing actions. But by virtue of their flow through the network of channels, demands undergo a number of preparatory or pre-processing phases through which they become modified in content or reduced in numbers. As a result of these processes each persisting system is able to guarantee that by the time the demands reach the areas where binding decisions are made and implemented, there is a reasonable chance that those who are responsible for these final stages will be able to cope with what might otherwise have been an overwhelming welter of time-consuming.demands. The diagram traces five logically possible channels along which a want may travel after it has been converted to a demand. These flow paths are labeled S to W. Although they are derived logically, it also turns out that phenomenally all these patterns appear, if not together in the same system, at least individually or in various combinations in one or another system. Through them the inflow and processing of demands are regulated.