Dahl based his typology of political systems on number, subsystem autonomy, and legitimacy. Almond puts forward the criteria of (i) structural differentiation, and (ii) cultural secularisation. In his classificatory scheme, he endorses the influential ideas of Aristotle, Max Weber, Karl Friederich, S. N. Eisenstedt, Edward Shils, Robert A. Dahl, James Coleman, David Apter and Lipset. He has incorporated sociological and systems perspectives, particularly, from Talcott Parsons, Marion J. Levy, and Karl W. Deutsch. Almond, along with Powell, has divided all political systems into three broad classes. He classifies them according to the degree of structural differentiation and cultural secularisation.
1. Primitive Systems:
These are intermittent political structures and a minimum of structural differentiation, along with a dispersed and narrow culture.
They can further be sub-classified as:
(a) Primitive nomadic bands, as, Ouagadougou (old)
(b) Segmentary systems, as, Nuer
(c) Pyramidal systems, as, Ashanti
2. Traditional Systems:
These consist of differentiated governmental-political structures oriented toward a ‘subject’ culture.
These have further been classified as:
(a) Patrimonial systems, as Ouagadougou
(b) Centralised bureaucratic systems, as, Inca, Tudor England, Ethiopia, etc.
(c) Feudal political systems, as the twelfth century France
3. Modern Systems:
These systems mainly consist of differentiated political infrastructures, such as, political parties, interest groups etc., and have some form of ‘participant’ political culture.
Among them there is a large variety:
A. Secularised city-states: Limited differentiation, as in Athens.
B. Mobilised modern systems: High differentiation and secularisation.
1. Democratic systems:
Subsystem independence and participant culture:
(a) High subsystem independence, as, in Great Britain.
(b) Limited subsystem independence, as, in Fourth Republic France.
(c) Low subsystem independence, as, in Mexico.
2. Authoritarian systems:
Subsystem control and subject – participant culture
(a) Radical totalitarian, as, in the former USSR.
(b) Conservative totalitarian, as in Nazi Germany.
(c) Conservative authoritarian, as in Spain.
(d) Modernising authoritarian, as in Brazil.
C. Pre-mobilised modem systems: Limited differentiation and secularisation
1. Pre-mobilised authoritarian, as in Ghana prior to February 1966.
2. Pre-mobilised democratic.
Almond and Powell have analysed the above political systems in the light of their conceptual framework and have reached a set of empirical propositions.