Politics Lecture 01/06/2014
Monday January 2, 2014
Course consists of two parts:
What is the main theme? Is the first step.
The author asks a research question and you have to identify that question. You must write it
down in the synopses
“in the robustness of utilitarianism, Eva asks ….”
The question the author is trying to answer.
In the second sentence you should have the core argument, it may not appear in the first few
sentence. This argument is theANSWER to the question.
The next stage is to find the supporting argument, how she supports the core argument.
What kind of evidence does she use to support herself/argument. What evidence does she
Agood scholarly article looks at alternative answers to the question.
“she looks at alternative explanations and shows that her argument is more compelling than
others based on certain pieces of evidence”
Preparation for conducting a research paper.
Annotated bibliography for 15 scholarly items (you will do the research for research paper, but
you don’t have to write the paper)
Wednesday January 8, 2014 Comparative Politics - Key Concepts
What is Politics?
Who gets what, when and how.
Something is being distributed, the what.
This can be material substance.
Or it can be cultural.
Or it can be based on language policies.
Example: taxation money, how will you decide which province gets how much.
Example: which languages are dominant in which countries.
There is an element of power in this definition, someone who does the distribution
The authoritative allocation of values for a society.
This definition seems to be different on the surface but has different elements in it.
“authoritative allocation” talks about distribution of values.
Lacks congruent, and yet the assumption is that values and material goods are not necessary
exclusive of one another.
Values may determine distribution of material needs.
Values may decide bilingualism because there are minority languages that are valued in their
own right. This actively promotes material needs being addressed through values.
There are values of inclusivity.
Do we want people to make decisions on our behalf?
Referendum’s are forms of making these decisions collectively.
The process by which groups make collective decisions. The other two definitions have an outcome
This definition deals with politics as a process of decision making.
Distinction between process and outcome are different.
How do you distribute the last piece of chocolate, who is going to get it and how.
There is a value element in this also.
Ongoing process, we have a collective memory.
In comparative politics we are interested in a different level of politics.
The state level, and society as a whole.
It is about public institutions, the public sphere.
Atask, that was done collectively, with limited information, and coming to a conclusion or
solution to the task.
The things we deal with are consequential in politics.
Ameans of studying politics through comparisons;Addressing important empirical questions
about political life within polities/political systems
Explaining political phenomenon, such as political violence, social movements, elections, etc.
Learning about individual cases and explanatory theory-building about political phenomenon of
You need a point of reference, a country that is similar to the UK but does have a constitution
and see how it is beneficial.
Example: why some countries are economically advances and others do not.
Distinct from political theory, which deals with normative-theoretical questions (what ought to
Distinct from International Relations (IR), which deals with interactions between political
systems, between states, organizations at the national level (war, trade, balance of power etc.)
Comparative politics are concerned with how people participate, why some people participate
and why others don’t.
Tries to be neutral when asking empirical questions, but there is always some kind of value
element loaded in it. Deals with empirical questions within systems, states, and societies.
It doesn’t analyze war between states that’s in the IR sphere.
Just as with political theory, these two subfields interact (IR, and Comparative Politics)
This is because they can be the cause of one another.
The boundaries are blurry
International trade agreements, may be influenced by domestic economic interests. Who do we
choose to export to.
Doesn’t ignore internal influences.
Domestic government policy can also be influence by external pressures.
Different methods of doing comparisons:
Comparing across countries, regions, time periods to reveal similarities and differences.
Qualitative comparisons (small number of cases or single cases)
Example: how does having a written constitution influence politics.
Quantitative, statistical analysis (large number of cases)
Example: is voting behaviour influences by gender (comparing a sample of male and female
Doesn’t require in depth knowledge of the cases but statistics about it.
Based on the phenomenon they were trying
Deductive (begins with theory) vs. Inductive (starts with empirics)
Theorizing about how the world works, after the theory is composed you then do empirical work
to test the theory. 01/06/2014
Positivism vs. Constructivism
The most basic assumptions of positivism rely on fact values
They argue that there are real, objective facts, that are verifiable in the same way by different
individuals irrespective of their values and beliefs.
Positivists argue that social phenomena can be understood in the same way, political phenomena
can be explained neutrally by individuals in the same way as phenomena in the natural sciences
(measurements, hypothesis testing, theoretical formulations)
All we need to do is use scientific methods of inquiry to determine which explanations are right
Object to the idea of facts in reality
They believe facts are socially constructed.
They are embedded in a social context.
reality is socially constructed.
There is an introspective understanding that provide meaning, attributes meaning to social
Political scientists cannot stand outside the political phenomenon as political observers, they are
part of the political construction.
Most political scientists acknowledge to a large extent that our world is socially constructed, but
they also believe that there are ways to neutralize ourselves such that we can test in a scientific
way yo see if some situations are better than others.
Rational Choice (individual interests)
This theoretical approach believes that individuals claim according to their interests
They are strategic, they are cost effect
Some believe that interest is primarily economic
Individuals are driven by economic maximization 01/06/2014
It believes that they are goal-oriented, and then look for the best means to achieve that goal.
Example: if they want to explain voting
They will argue that they choose the party that will best represent their interests.
It can also be irrational to NOT vote for a political party because
Political culture (collective values and ideas)
Political culture refers to the accumulation of beliefs, values, norms, ideas of a society towards
its politics, or political life
Refers to aggregation of the individual values, beliefs and norms
Individuals are motivated and driven by those beliefs.
For example: a person that votes for a political party, no because it reflects their best political
interest, but because it reflects the values which they believe.
Because the ideology is most proximate to their own.
Distinct from rational choice, because of interest versus values.
This approach argues that institutions are the rules of the game in a society.
They provide constraints for political action, and opportunities and are constitutive of ourselves.
They provide meaning to our context.
Example: what make Canadian’s Canadian?
Institutions are seen as those rules that guide human behavior.
For example: constitutions are institutions and the political behavior of individuals in a society is
influenced by the constitution
They provide constraints and incentives.
Institutionalisms argue that the rules of our societies are in institutions and shape how people
They can also be constitutive who we are, and we behave accordingly 01/06/2014
Example; national identity.
Economic Development (structures)
Argues that politics is determined by economic structures, distribution of resources, prosperity,
level of industrialization, trade relations.
It will argue things like societies that are more prosperous in regards to the economy are less
likely to fight for resources
Domestic politics are determined by international community
January 15 2014
Max Weber “a state is a human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the
legitimate use of physical force within a given territory”
They exercise these powers inside of territorial boundaries
It is a compulsory association
There is force and power involved
If you live in that territory which the state controls, you don’t have much of a choice other than
to be in the subject to the laws of that state.
Example: humans controlling other humans by means of legitimate violence.
When the state does it, we barely question it
The state punishes people that don’t abide by the state.
Authoritative decision making institution for an entire society, by which all other institutions and
individuals are subject to.
States are sometimes challenged 01/06/2014
Example: organized crime is a means of saying that state laws don’t apply to us, we have our
guns, and they don’t play by the rules of economic transactions.
He presents an ideal type of a state, but doesn’t capture reality.
Joel Migdal – distinction between the image of the state (Weberian) and practice (varies between
Conceptualization of the state, is the distinction between the image of the state and the practice.
State has this image of a dominated integrated center of society and controls all rule making, but
in practice states are in question about the alternative patterns of authority
Example: religious authority.
Example: marriage laws – polygamy – some people believe it is acceptable, and the state has to
compete with this.
State – the set of institutions that ideally function according to the Weberian principles
(bureaucracy, police, government ministries, local councils)
Regime – type/system of government (parliamentary democracy, military, dictatorship etc.)
Government – the body and the people that do the governing.
Sovereignty – the right to make laws for the country
In most countries this is the legislative body
But sometimes there is a formal definition that is in the constitution but it is more symbolic.
Some constitutions say the people are the sovereign.
Sovereignty lies within the parliament
Authority – the right to rule
Coercive power alone is highly inefficient for ruling
Rulers need to convert power for ruling
Acknowledging the right of rulers to make rulers.
To comply does not mean that you have to agree with the decisions made by superior, but it is
accepting that superiors can make decisions on our behalf. 01/06/2014
Society refers to all the population living in the boundaries of the state, it includes individuals
who may accept or reject the common order, but still share social space.
Organized in the realm between the state and the individual
Autonomous from the state
State doesn’t control or create them, they are acting on behalf of those who constituted them (the
organized social components)
In some societies, organizations are created by the state and therefore not autonomous
Romanticized as a utopian sphere: civil operation to promote collective good
Characterized by tolerance, trust, commitment to pluralistic discourse.
Civil element is stressed here, but in practice, assumptions about conflict free societies are naïve.
Example: the national rifle association (NRA), now consider the pro gun control lobby
Both of this have visions about what the public good is, although they do not agree, and think
that the other side is very harmful for their society.
So restricted that we would be hard pressed to find an organization that is civil society, if we
follow the normative dimension.
In comparative politics we look primarily at the operational dimensions, not the normative.
Is the way for society to check authoritarian power within the regime
It allows people to represent their true preferences vis-à-vis the government 01/06/2014
20 January 2014
CONTINUATION FROM WEEK 2
Nations and States
State = institutions
Nation = people, population
Nation-state = state that belongs to the people
Often used interchangeably, but that is wrong.
Canadian state and the Canadian people, the Canadian-state belongs to the Canadian people.
Belong to the dominant nation, and then there are national minorities.
Most states in the world have national minorities, which is inconsistent with this premise (very
few homogenous states)
Self-determination = nations have a right to determine their defining characteristics and govern
Periods of State Formation
Western Europe from the late 15 century
Britain, France and Europe – modern states formed
In Britain it was a 17 century civil war (glorious revolution of 1688), Parliament is in power.
In France – French revolution against the bourbon monarchy, led to the establishment of the first
US – state formation was relatively early, with the declaration of independence and the
revolution against the British monarchy ending in 1781.
China – pre western modernity
Traced back to the 14 century.
It deals with population that is population from the center to outer areas and followed by a
The boundaries of the Chinese state expanded. 01/06/2014
LatinAmerica – early 19 century
In the 20 century – the collapse of empires all over the world
Following WWI (