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POL 100 Lecture Notes (Week 1-5)

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Political Science
POL 100
Loganathan Masilamani

Lecture 1 – Studying Politics • Introduction: o Cynicism is common, but healthy skepticism leads to better-informed citizens o Being involved means being better informed o Politics is actually a progressive discipline o How politics could improve our lives at home and abroad? • Political Studies, Political Science, Politics (several names for the discipline, but all concerned with the same study) o Political studies: formal study of politics within and among nations • Power and Politics o One of the most important concepts in politics o Power: ability to achieve goals in a political system and have others do as you wish them to o Power comes in various forms and is situational  Leadership, influence, economic, military, protest • Politics is part of the social sciences o Social sciences: scientific study of human society and social relationships o Not a “trade,” but a discipline o Teaches analytical thought, critical analysis, description, argumentation, and importance of balanced research o Shows us why events take place, how situations can be improved, and how it is we come to know what we know • Political Careers: o Public service, law, journalism, teaching, commerce, government liaison (policy- making and administration), politicians • The Necessity of Politics o Many views about what life would be like without politics o English philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously wrote that it would be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’; would be an “everyone for themselves” situation o Socialization makes us secure  Socialization: process whereby individuals act in a social manner; creation of social and political authority and rules to regulate behaviour so as to permit operation of social units • Questions of Politics o What do governments do and what are their rights and responsibilities? o What do citizens want and what are their rights and responsibilities? o Who has power? o How do individuals and groups participate? o How do we distinguish political systems? o Why is conflict so prevalent in the world? o How is wealth distributed? o Why does such inequity exist? o Harold Lasswell neatly described the fundamental question of politics in his book Politics: Who Gets What, When, How? • The Purpose of Politics o Helps us organize ourselves o Politics allows for distribution of benefits, wealth, and public goods  Public goods: resources that are present in a political system where use by one individual should not affect use by others; various benefits that a government provides to all its citizens such as social welfare, economic efficiency, security from external attack, public safety, political freedoms + opportunity, etc (but governments are often ineffective!) • Conflict and Resolution o Conflict is inevitable when it comes to questions of power and politics  Conflict: differences in preferred outcomes among social groups o Conflict resolution can occur at many levels  Conflict resolution: process in domestic or international affairs where antagonism (either existing or potential) is sought to be reconciled through the use of mediation and negotiation. o Politics is naturally a competitive dynamic o Much of organized politics is meant to resolve conflict • Decision-Making o Decision-making leads to rules and direction for political communities  Decision-making: mechanism or pattern of relations involving different levels of government where determinations and judgements regarding the governance of political system are made (sometimes referred to as the “black box”) o From town halls to government legislatures • Decisions and Government Type o How decisions are made and carried out depends on your political system o Two main types looked at in this course:  Liberal democracy: a political system based on freedom, individual liberty, and the principle that governance requires the assent of all citizens through participation in the electoral process, articulation of views, and direct or indirect representation in governing institutions  Authoritarianism: political system requiring absolute obedience to a constituted authority • Types of Political Systems o Large differences between the systems o Authoritarianism: public has little say in decision-making—and ultimately the direction—of their political system o Liberal democracy: governments are more responsive to citizens’needs (ex. Libya and Egypt have become more like liberal democracies) • Approaches to Politics o Several methods and approaches based on the rich history of political thought and ideologies o Aristotle said humans possess “logos” which means we reason and communicate o Justice in society is our goal, but injustice often exists instead o Various approaches have introduced a specialized language for politics  Every field has its own conceptual language o Political theorizing and analysis has been around since antiquity o Politics, as a formal discipline, appeared in Europe and the United States in the late 1800s o Political “science” reflects the rigour emphasized after World War II • AnalyticalApproach o Analytical approach: perspective that views politics as an empirical discipline, rather than a science; argues that politics cannot be broken down into parts but must be seen comprehensively  Also called the “traditional approach” o Oldest approach in politics o Sees politics as a comprehensive study, based on empiricism o Impossible to separate values from facts o What you see is affected by what you think o Bias is unavoidable in life and in politics • Empiricism o Empiricism:Analysis based not on concepts and theory, but on what can be observed or experimented upon o What can be observed can also be used in scientific approach, so empiricism (“what we observe”) is the basis of all approaches • Behaviouralism o After World War II, universities were pressured by governments to spend more on sciences, including social sciences o Politics was urged to be more rigourous and use the “scientific method” • Scientific Method o Using variables, theories, axioms, and hypotheses in research o Rigour, where accuracy is sought through consistency, testing, and use of accepted principles, laws and approaches o Focus on the tangible, rather than values  Humans and human behaviour o Behaviouralism: perspective that concentrates on the “tangible” aspects of political life, rather than values; objective was to establish a discipline that was “scientific” and objective • Post-Behaviouralism o Understood that values cannot be ignored o Post-behaviouralism brought values back in  Post-behaviouralism: approach that attempted to reconcile the problems encountered by behaviouralism by allowing for values and ideology in its analysis o The human is the focus of attention, so human sentiment and views cannot be removed • Structural-Functionalism o Politics is not just about behaviour o Importance of institutions and their functions  Structural-functionalism: approach that focuses on the role of political structures and their functions in society o Government structures bind with individual action • Systems Theory o Structures and people exist in a political system  Systems theory: approach that views politics as a system of interactions, binding political structures such as government to individual action; argues that politics is a dynamic process of information flows and responses that encompass political institutions, groups, and individuals • Political Economy o Politics is also about who has wealth since wealth leads to political power o Politics meets economics  Political economy: approach that views political and economic spheres as harmonious and mutually dependent perceptions of the world; relationship between people, government, and the economy • Questions of Politics o All approaches attempt to answer these questions:  What is the political issue at hand?  Who is involved?  How did the events unfold?  Why did the events take place?  How was society affected by these events? • Levels of Analysis o We won’t know the whole picture if we just look at one “level” or “actor”  Levels of analysis: approach to political studies that suggests that accurate analysis must be inclusive of international, domestic, and individual arenas of interaction  Four levels: individual, domestic, interstate, global o Ex. 9/11, Gulf War, infidels, Osama Bin Laden, hatred between nations (many different ways or levels of looking at an event) • Citizens and Canada o What does it mean to be “Canadian”? o What does it mean to be a citizen?  Citizenship: status granted to people that comes with responsibilities and duties as well as rights o Conditions come with citizenship, either through abiding by laws and norms, or even writing a test • Multiculturalism o For Canadians, citizenship is a many varied thing o Canada is an immigrant nation, meaning that its growth in numbers has always been a fact since Europeans first met First Nations peoples o Multiculturalism: peaceful coexistence of several racial, cultural, or ethnic identities in one nation Lecture 2 – Finding a Common Vocabulary: Political Concepts • Concepts o Politics has its own terminology and concepts  Concept: general idea emerging from events or instances o Concepts help us establish consistency in political analysis o But concepts are often not universally agreed upon  There are no ‘laws’in politics • Political Organization o Politics is about organizing life and relationships, specifically how humans govern themselves into the body politic  Body politic: entirety of a political community o Organization may start with a common territory, but will lead to values, beliefs, and attitudes. It is, in part, socialization. • Order o Order: condition in which both units and interactions within a political system are marked by regularity and stability with the imposition of accepted and enforced rules, structures, and practices o Leads to customary behavior and expectation, can be seen as a value • Kinds of Order o Democracy: political system based on the principle that governance requires the assent of all citizens through participation in the electoral process, articulation of views, and direct or indirect representation in governing institutions o Monarchy: form of government by a single ruler who holds at least nominally absolute power o Tyranny: government by a single ruler who often exercises arbitrary power for his or benefit rather than that of the community • System o System: Group of individual entities or actors that interact with each other to form an integrated whole o Connected and organized political body; may be domestic, global, etc o Change in one aspect can lead to change in all • International System o International system: System of two or more actors that interact regularly in the global arena, using established processes in given issue areas o In theory, all actors have same legal status and essential equality o In reality, states have different capabilities based on their size, resources, wealth, etc.  Ex. USAdominates international system because they have the most power (although we believe the UN dominates); Canada is a middle power • Institutions o Institutions: Groupings that have developed to attend to particular societal needs o Not necessarily “organizations” and organizations aren’t necessarily institutions o Strongest when they are autonomous, transparent, accountable, and durable o Essential for building effective systems o Generally, there are four institutions within a system:  executive (sometime elected, like the Prime Minister), our Head of State is still the Queen of England (she isn't elected though)  legislature (legislative members that we elect; at the federal level we elect 308 members of Parliament, and provincially we elect an assembly)  civil service (bureaucrats; largest branch of employment in Canada, carry out the laws that are set by the legislature and executive)  judiciary (appointed judges) • State o State: Recognized political unit, considered to be sovereign, with a defined territory and people and a central government responsible for administration o Sovereignty gives them absolute control over a defined area o Max Weber: states have monopoly over legitimate use of force o War: use of armed forces in conflict with an enemy • Sovereignty o Sovereignty: Recognition by other political authorities that a government is legitimate and rightful for a political community o Internally must exert control; externally must have recognition from others • Nation and Nation-State o Nation: Group of persons who share an identity that is based on, but not limited to, shared ethnic, religious, cultural, or linguistic qualities o Strictly speaking, not a state o “Nation-state” refers to sovereign state, or what we know as a “country”  Nation-state: autonomous political unit of people who share a predominant common culture, language, ethnicity, or history o Ex. Canada is a multi-nation state; North Korea and South Korea are two states but one nation • Power o Power:Ability to achieve goals in a political system, and to have others do as you wish them to o The “principle concept” in politics o Power can be wielded in different ways  Dynamic: actively used to achieve goals  Static: used as measurement of relative capability o Steven Lukes and the “three faces” of power  Decision-making power: policy making, legislation  Non decision-making power: ability to set agenda and get issues discussed  Ideological power: ability to influence people’s thoughts o Hard vs. soft power: tangible incentives and punishment vs. ideas and influence • Influence o Influence: the ability to change behavior in others without exerting direct power over them o How actors get other to do their will o Closely related to power, and often seen as a substitute for power o Connected to leadership • Authority o Authority: Power or right to force obedience o Individuals or groups given certain rights and responsibilities to lead o Three types of authority:  Traditional: passed down through generations  Rational-legal: based on rules and norms  Charismatic: special qualities of the individual • Leadership o Leadership: Group of individuals that lead society o Closely related to influence and authority o May or may not come with power • Legitimacy o Legitimacy: What is lawful, appropriate, proper, and conforms to the standards of a political system; legitimacy lies in the voice of the people o Belief by community that those in charge ought to be legitimate o “Certifying” the rulers and form of rule o Basis for legitimacy may be controversial  ex. the monarch as head of state in Canada o Power, authority, and legitimacy are linked • Values o Values: Principles, standards; what an individual or community esteems as meaningful o Every political system espouses values, though they may be very different o The “hierarchy” of values may differ too  ex. women’s rights in Canada orAfghanistan • Equality o Equality: Parity in a political system o Are humans “equal”? How do we define that? o Different types of equality:  Political: right to participate  Social: status given to all  Economic: distribution of benefits  Related to rights movements: racial and gender rights • Conceptions of Equality o Ancient Greeks (Plato,Aristotle) looked at differences, not equality, of humans o Thomas Hobbes and John Locke: all are deserving of equal treatment (political equality) o Adam Smith: equality through economic opportunity o John Rawls: everyone would choose equality over the uncertainty of the alternative • Social Order and Security o Social order: Recognized structure of power, responsibility, and liberty o Different—and sometimes contradictory—views about what is “orderly” in society o Can be seen from a domestic and an international viewpoint o Security: freedom from danger or injury; closely related to order • Justice o Justice: State of affairs involving the maintenance of what is right and fair within a society o The few will govern the many, so justice is essential o Social justice: equitable distribution of goods and values in society o Economic justice: the redistribution of economic resources from certain groups in society to others • Liberty o Liberty: Freedom from tyrannical control o Closely related to freedom > ability to act without constraint o But liberty is not just the right to freely act as one wants o Liberty comes with responsibility to society • Views on Liberty (Isaiah Berlin) o Negative liberty: areas of activity in which governments do not interfere, where an individual is free to choose  Where government does not get involved (ex. lifestyle), giving citizens the “right” to act o Positive liberty: freedom to achieve one’s full potential  Where government does get involved (ex. economic redistribution), enabling citizens to reach their potential • Welfare o Welfare: Legislation or social action taken to provide citizens with physical, financial, health, or other assistance o Good example of how government balances approaches to liberty • Rights o Liberties are closely related to rights of citizens o Civil rights: those enjoyed variously from one political system to another o Human rights: those that are considered inalienable, meaning they can’t be given up, but there are differing views on human rights • Community o Community: Social, political, cultural, and economic ties that bind individuals to one another o Those “ties” are created by the values, rights, power distribution, equality, laws and power that exist in one’s political system • Identity o Identity:Aperson’s understanding and expression of their individuality or group membership o What is your identity?  What influences your life? Family, religion, geography, language, culture, etc. o Something of a paradox:  Individual identity makes us unique  Group identity ties us to others o What is a “Canadian”? Lecture 3 – Political Thought, Philosophy, and Ideology • Political Thought o All of our major approaches, concepts, and ideas in politics are based in the development of political thought o Thought extends from philosophy (Greek: philosophia, meaning love of knowledge)  Philosophy: study of questions about existence and knowledge, ethics, justice, and morality based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods • Politics and Philosophy o Investigations into nature, the divine, and human action  Asearch for understanding  Remember Hobbes’philosophy on human nature o Political philosophy is about the ideas behind politics, rather than the “mechanics” that drives it o What is the significance of political events? • Return to Progress o Politics is progressive o Political philosophy seeks to understand politics in order to improve it o Not utopian or idealistic  Utopia: idealized place or system, an ideally perfect society; individual or approach aspiring to impractical perfection o Rather, a practical exercise to make the best possible society • The “Method” of Political Philosophy o Philosophical inquiry is done by posing answers to perennial questions. For example:  How to distribute benefits in society?  What is the proper role for government? o Answers to these questions range widely  Ex. Smith and Marx have very different ideas about the role of government in the economy • History of Political Thought o Many strands of political thought  Ex. Islamic, Chinese, Japanese, Meso-American,Aboriginal o Modern political science rooted in western philosophy, stemming from Greek antiquity • The Greeks o Early thoughts about nature of politics, the “good life,” and the role of government o Simple questions (ex. “What is justice?”) are still not “answered” today o Plato: What is right, and how should government conduct itself? o Aristotle: politics of the “possible”— what is the best way to achieve better political organization? • Medieval Philosophy o Life and religion (Christianity) o Humans are secondary to the role of religion o Thomas Aquinas: introducedAristotle’s philosophy and the scientific approach to Christian world  Aquinas used the deductive method, where you start with a hypothesis and then move to observations to support the hypothesis • Renaissance Thought o Secular approach to politics o Niccolò Machiavelli examined the nature of power and leadership o Thomas Hobbes looked at the nature and power of government to create stability • Modern Political Thought o Much of modern political ideas build on these eras of philosophy and take into account enlightenment and industrial thinkers likeAdam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx  Smith: early liberal economic thinking (state should be present but not interfere with economy)  Mill: liberty and tolerance in society (we are born with inherent rights)  Marx: critique of capitalism, alternative system of communism • Social Constructivism o Thinkers like John Rawls and Robert Nozick critique “what we know”  Social constructivism: a sociological and political meta-theory that explains the interactions between individual agents, their social groupings, and their environment o Can we have objective truth? o Is everything we know tainted by the way we have come to know it? • Ideology o Ideology: set or system of ideas that form the basis of a political or economic system and provide guidance and direction for political leadership o Just about everything in political life today—domestic and global—is influenced by ideology o Ideology frames government objectives, and government action o Ideology differs widely and is often based on various traditions of thought o Both descriptive and normative:  Describe courses of action and contain a set of ideas and beliefs o Strongly influenced by societal values • Ideology and Religion o Ideology might be thought of in the same way as religion  They both have preconditions and assumptions  Both have fundamental “beliefs”  Neither can be proved “right”  Both are the basis of action for people o Ideology, like religion, can lead to different opinions and conflict • Ideology and Philosophy o While not necessarily mutually exclusive, ideologies can be divisive  ex. the Cold War: Period of rhetorical, non-violent hostility; most often used as a reference to the period of 1945–91 and the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union o Ideologies are based in philosophy, though they aren’t philosophies themselves • Where Do Ideologies Come From? o Start with images – “Reflections and impressions of reality; not reality” o Those result in attitudes – “Implicit assumptions regarding images” o From there we get values – “Standardized normative views of the world” o And values lead to beliefs – “Certainties and faith in values” o Beliefs lead to ideology • Liberal Thought o Liberalism: View of politics that favors liberty, free trade, and moderate social and political change o Divergent strain: No two liberal thinkers are necessarily the same! o Progress possible but individuals need laws and rights to live together harmoniously o Roots in the ideas of John Locke  Equality of right  Consent of citizens • Liberalism and Self-Determination o Early liberal thought supported self-determination:  Ability to act in free choice without external compulsion o Equality of opportunity meant that all should have same liberty and rights o Brings us back to negative liberty o Ex. Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points of Peace • Liberalism and Democracy o Political system based on the principle that governance requires the assent of all citizens through participation in the electoral process, articulation of views, and direct or indirect representation in governing institutions o 19th century: democracy and liberalism merge o Focus: self-determination, but not at expense of minorities • Democracy and Capitalism o Capitalism: Economic system where production and distribution of goods relies on private capital and investment o Liberalism and economic thought merge in 18th century o Adam Smith and free market (invisible hand)  Economic forces left on their own would lead to efficiency and growth over time, and benefit all • Socialism o Challenge to social and economic conditions espoused by liberalism o Many versions, but all concerned with human condition and rights o Humans by nat
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