Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In common usage, the people can designate either (a) unspecifically, a group of persons, such as a nation, tribe, race, or other form of community, which may or may not be perceived to share a collective identity; or (b) politically, the total body of enfranchised or eligible citizens of a state. Either way, the people of a geographical region or country are not usually coextensive with its population, which includes, for instance, other ethnic groups or foreign residents. The politically defined people are subject to the legal order of a state and, depending on the state's constitution, possess some form of influence or control over its institutions and government. In direct democracy, the people are the ultimate source of political authority; under absolute autocracy, where the sovereign personifies the state, the notion of citizenship is arguably meaningless and the distinction between people and population is redundant. Yet in practice, This ...