Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jerzy J. Wiatr
A dictatorship is a form of government in which a person or a group has absolute power, unlimited by constitution or other laws and not based on traditional legitimacy. The meaning of the term, and the content of the phenomenon itself, has changed over time. In political science, the study of dictatorship constitutes an important subject. Understanding it is vital for comparative politics and for the study of new democracies that emerged from the ashes of former dictatorial regimes. This entry first describes the history of dictatorships and reviews the major typologies used to classify them. It then discusses the causes of dictatorships and the various ways in which they have been ended. The term dictator was used for the first time in ancient Rome. In times of calamities, consuls, on the recommendation of the Senate confirmed by the popular assembly ( comitia curiata ), appointed a dictator (with the ...