Lecture at: 01/14/2014
C LASS N OTES FOR : P OLI S CI 3LC3
McMaster University, Fall 2013
T UESDAY , ANUARY 14, Y
APPROACHES TO SOUTH E AST ASIA
“Indeed, the contemporary states of South East Asia are all constructions, in one form or another, of the
period of European Colonialism” (Damien Kingsbury, 2008)
• How to study South East Asia?
• How to explain and understand regional and domestic events in SEA?
• Key theoretical approaches
o Comparative politics
o Democratization theories
- Political economy
o How colonial powers have impacted the statehood of SEA
Why do we need these theoretical approaches?
- Dependent, explanatory variable in CP varies acc. To approaches
- Some key dependent outcomes
o Regime type and stability
o War, revolutions and peace
- Interests in Causal account: we need theory to guide empirical research, or else it is just a
collection of information, with no analytical angle to answer big questions
- How is it that some countries are more stable than others?
- Want to have a causal story to explain why these outcomes occur?
Grand or Mid-Level Theories
Grand Theories Mid-Level Theories
Exp. Large-scale macro processes Exp. Limited no. of cases/ regimes / institutions /
Structural functionalism Democratization / regime change
Modernization Party system change
Dependency Ethnic conflict
Systems theory Focus on specific policies, and party systems
To explain why system changes
Angie © McMaster University 1
Fall 2013 Lecture at: 01/14/2014
1. Structural functionalism
a. Views society as a complex system, parts work together to promote stability
a. Institutions are most important to explain why societies work the way they do
b. Sees how structures, formal and informal rules shape behavior (executives, legislatures,
c. “Formal State Institutions” - Military, legislature, electoral system.
d. “Marriage” - Social contract recognized by gov’t and state
e. How structures work and how informal and formal work with actors
3. Rational Choice
a. Concerns with how interests motivate and shape individual behavior; assumes that
individuals are self-interested utility maximizers
b. We make our decisions based on how much benefit we get, to get a certain outcome.
c. Market works in a way that we want to increase our utility
d. To understand how political leaders make decisions based on maximizing their own
e. Explain or help analyze why certain things happen?
f. How decisions are made and why certain outcomes are being pursued (furthers your
interests - survival? Power? Etc.)
a. Concerns with how ideas, mass values and norms shape politics and behaviour
Focus of Inquiry
Key themes in SEAsia
- Construction of State
o Because most of the countries are part of ‘colonialism’there are issues associated with
boundaries and ethnic divisions
o Challenges the idea of state-ness and why this causes a lot of problems.
- State-society relations
- Authority and legitimacy
- Security and role of th