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Outline for Levels of Analysis Lectures.pdf

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Political Science
POLI 244
Jason Scott Ferrell

Highlights of Levels of Analysis Lectures Reason for discriminating levels of analysis: to simplify analysis – focus on one level makes analysis easier, facilitates comparison of arguments First Level: Individual Level (focuses on characteristics and attributes of individuals) Examples:  human nature (people are sinful, selfish, power seeking, masculine/feminine, etc.)  cognition (perceptions vs. misperceptions of reality)  rational actors (people have preferences and pursue them) Strengths: most often used/encountered (by journalists and popular writers, etc.) ---- easy to develop Weaknesses: frequently fails to explain variations in behavior (if human nature is constant must point to other things to explain changes we see) --- hard to theorize or develop precise predictions (theories of HN are easily contestable) --- misperceptions assume correct perceptions possible (epistemological problems: how do you know the perception is right) Second Level: Domestic Level (aka as “unit” level or “state” level)  in IR usually refers to the State as the actor o state defined in terms of sovereignty (has monopoly of coercive force and is sole legitimate political/legal authority)  tends to look at the interaction of actors within the State (or “at the State level”) Examples:  regime types (democratic vs. authoritarian, etc.)  bureaucratic actors (e.g. foreign affairs office vs. military)  domestic politics (political parties and their rivalries)  economic differences (sector vs. factor differences within the economy; also type of economic policies: free market vs. government directed, etc.)  revolution
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