David Easton, another modern political scientist, defines "politics" as the authoritative allocation by the political system of values for society. Easton, in A Framework for Political Analysis, uses the term "political system" to designate the pattern or system of human inter- actions and relationships in any political society through which authoritative allocations are made and implemented--allocations that are binding on all members of the society and are recognized as such by the great majority of the members. Easton defines a society's political system as "those patterns of interaction through which values are allocated for a society and these allocations are accepted as authoritative by most persons in the society most of the time." Allocating society's values and obtaining widespread acceptance within the society of the authoritative, or binding, nature of the allocations, according to Easton, constitute the basic functions of any political society. "It is through the presence of activities that fulfill these two basic functions that a society can commit the resources and energies of its members in the settlement of differences that cannot be autonomously [i.e., individually or privately] resolved."
In A Systems Analysis of Political Life, Easton again defines the political system as consisting of "those interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society." Easton sees "politics" as human activity involved in the operation, or functioning, of the political system--activity concerned with authoritative decisionmaking and action by the government, decisionmaking and action resulting in an authoritative allocation of values for the society. To say it another way, Easton defines "politics" as activity relating to the authoritative decisions of a society's government and to the effect that enforcement of these decisions has on the allocation, or distribution, of rewards and values among the different segments of the society.
By the word "value," Easton means any sought-after value in life. A value is any object, activity, idea, principle, goal, or other phenomenon upon which large numbers of people place appreciable value, something which is considered by many individuals and groups within the political community to be good, desirable, attractive, useful, rewarding, beneficial, or advantageous. One set of values may be tangible, or material, in form--i.e., in the form of money, property, and/or other economic goods, services, and conditions. Another set of values may be intangible; that is, the values may be symbolic, ideological, cultural, ethical, moral, or religious in character. Examples of intangible values in contemporary American politics include the expressed goals of political activists who assert that they are concerned primarily with "social" or "family" issues, that they seek mainly to promote and defend "social" or "family" values.