Theocracies as Political Systems
This chapter looks into three key aspects of theocratic power relations: how rulers are selected (succession procedures), how their power is institutionalized within the system (institutional regimes) and how they make the ruled conform to the norms they establish (political control). Theocratic succession procedures, regardless of their form, are interpreted as instruments used by God to reveal his choice. Institutional arrangements in theocracies vary as to the type of relations between secular rulers and religious functionaries, from hierocracy to caesaropapism; they often emerge in response to pressures within and outside of the political system as a way to maximize the regime’s “utility function”. Mechanisms of political control, defined as social control consciously applied by the rulers, and illustrated with examples from American theocratic communities, consist of norms and sanctions attached to them. Whether these sanctions are violent or not, they may lead to high, even totalitarian levels of control, especially in theocratic communes.
KeywordsTheocracy Succession procedures Institutional regimes Political control
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