Political activity and governing are irreducible and controlling fundamentals in social life. However, the everyday realities of politics and governing have to be managed:
Examples: liberalism, fascism, socialism, communism, anarchism
are doctrines or theories about organizing and changing society.
A society or its regime may or may not explicitly endorse the distribution of rights and duties (typically relating to wealth and power) of members of a society as theoretically required by the ideology supposedly in use.
Examples: monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, timocracy, tyranny.
are the vehicles or mechanisms by which a country may be governed. Regimes specify what sort of people are in government, how they are chosen, and how they conduct the work of government.
This may involve:
History suggests that a particular type of regime can choose to change its ideology, and the same ideology can be chosen by different types of regime.
Of course, regime change often occurs as part of a change of ideology.
Political science and political journalism commonly focus mostly on regimes and ideologies and their vicissitudes. A society's regime and preferred ideology are indeed extremely important political choices as well as having a major impact on politics.
But they are a result of political processes and a channeling mechanism, not the origin of politics.
Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Jan 2010