The primary aim of all the social sciences is the examination of the ways in which individuals are organized into a collective social system. Political science, as an academic discipline, focuses upon how this is achieved by the agency of ‘government’. In the most basic terms, political science is a study of the exercise of coercion. The ‘state’ is construed to be the ultimate or ‘sovereign’ repository of coercive power within a defined geographic domain, and political science studies the institutions and practices by which this power is exercised. Even in small tribal societies, anthropologists tell us, the structure of authority is sometimes very complex. It is certainly so in larger and more developed societies where the exercise of state power involves an elaborate process by which that power is translated into specific policies and laws which are then applied to even more specific cases. Like the other social sciences, political science is interested not merely in describing the structure of particular political systems but also in constructing abstract models of types of political systems, and in using such models, together with empirical data, to arrive at evaluative judgements concerning the merits of different systems by reference to some general normative criteria.