Transitioning from one form of energy to another has led to social change in areas such as production methods, quality of life, and labor productivity. In addition, there is a relationship between this social change and the emergence of different types of political systems. Surprisingly, there are not many studies on the relationship between energy transitions and changes in political systems. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the transition from one form of energy to another has historically determined the type of political system, and that this causal relationship has evolved through the ages. A three-stage approach was used in this study to examine this relationship in the past and present, and to predict coming changes in the future. The main finding is that from the foraging period to the oil age, energy has been a factor in determining political systems. However, with the expansion of energy trade between nations and the emergence of new technology options, the situation has been reversed: political systems have now become a determinant of energy transitions. Also, even democratic countries have been unwilling to transition to new forms of energy, preferring instead to maintain fossil fuel-based energy systems.
The role of climate change in the development and demise of Classic Maya civilization (300 to 1000 C.E.) remains controversial because of the absence of well-dated climate and archaeological sequences, We present a precisely dated subannual climate record for the past 2000 years from Yok Balum Cave, Belize. From comparison of this record with historical events compiled from well-dated stone monuments, we propose that anomalously high rainfall favored unprecedented population expansion and the proliferation of political centers between 440 and 660 C.E. This was followed by a drying trend between 660 and 1000 C.E. that triggered the balkanization of polities, increased warfare, and the asynchronous disintegration of polities, followed by population collapse in the context of an extended drought between 1020 and 1100 C.E.
This paper proposes a new modeling approach for describing the dynamics of political systems. For that purpose, real-world data series from several countries is considered. More specifically, democratic systems of six European countries involving elections that produce a parliament supporting the government are analyzed. First, the information is processed by means of multidimensional scaling and computational visualization techniques. Second, an analogy toward multi-particle systems is formulated, leading to an interpretation close to those adopted in physics.
The effect of ethnic division on civil war and the role of political systems in preventing these conflicts are analyzed, using the importance of religious polarization and animist diversity to explain the incidence of ethnic civil war. Findings show that religious differences are a social cleavage more important than linguistic differences in the development of civil war, and being a consociational democracy significantly reduces the incidence of ethnic civil war.
A new focus within both social epidemiology and political sociology investigates how political systems and priorities shape health inequities. To advance-and better integrate-research on political determinants of health inequities, the authors conducted a systematic search of the ISI Web of Knowledge and PubMed databases and identified 45 studies, commencing in 1992, that explicitly and empirically tested, in relation to an a priori political hypothesis, for either 1) changes in the magnitude of health inequities or 2) significant cross-national differences in the magnitude of health inequities. Overall, 84% of the studies focused on the global North, and all clustered around 4 political factors: 1) the transition to a capitalist economy; 2) neoliberal restructuring; 3) welfare states; and 4) political incorporation of subordinated racial/ethnic, indigenous, and gender groups. The evidence suggested that the first 2 factors probably increase health inequities, the third is inconsistently related, and the fourth helps reduce them. In this review, the authors critically summarize these studies' findings, consider methodological limitations, and propose a research agenda-with careful attention to spatiotemporal scale, level, time frame (e.g., life course, historical generation), choice of health outcomes, inclusion of polities, and specification of political mechanisms-to address the enormous gaps in knowledge that were identified.
We deploy the most up-to-date evidence available in various behavioral fields in support of the following hypothesis: The emergence of bipedalism and cooperative breeding in the hominin line, together with environmental developments that made a diet of meat from large animals adaptive, as well as cultural innovations in the form of fire, cooking, and lethal weapons, created a niche for hominins in which there was a significant advantage to individuals with the ability to communicate and persuade in a moral context. These forces added a unique political dimension to human social life which, through gene-culture coevolution, became Homo ludens—Man, the game player—with the power to conserve and transform the social order. Homo sapiens became, in the words of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, a zoon politikon.