POLS 2300 Lecture Notes - Italian Canadians, French Community Of Belgium, Six Nations Of The Grand River

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CH.1 Introduction to Political Life 10/9/2010 12:56:00 PM
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An Introduction to Political Life
Politicians range at the lowest rank when picking out what professions
should be trusted most statistically
They realize as they gain popularity that their goals and public promises
cannot always be kept as they wished
In no established democracy do a majority of people say that they have a
great deal of confidence in political parties
What Is Politics?
Politics: is the activity by which rival claims are settled by public
authorities
the boundaries as to what is considered to be political are located
where the states authority reaches ( public realm)
Politics is about the exercise of power
Political conflict is largely about where exactly the boundary
between public and private should be drawn, what should be
considered a proper matter for public life and decisions by the
state, and what should remain private matters
The state is the only institution that can reasonably claim to speak
and act on behalf of the entire community and its unique function is
to ensure the conditions for some degree of social order without it
there is no peaceful basis for reconciling conflicts in society
Power
the ability to influence what happens; found in all sorts of settings, not
simply political ones
Compliance may result from the threat or use of force ( coercion); from
the ability of A to convince B that a particular action is reasonable or
otherwise in B’s interests ( Influence) OR from the recognition on t part of
the compliant party that the person or organization issuing a command
has the right to do so and should b obeyed ( authority)
The protection of law and order may exact a high cost in terms of
personal freedoms
Open society: where individuals are free to speak their minds, associate
with whom they wish, and move freely without having to notify or justify
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their movements to the public authorities ( brought to Canadians, more
so Americans after September 11th
)
State & government
the existence of the state is necessary for the existence of politics
State: includes the governments as the seat of legitimate authority
in a territory but also includes bureaucracy, judiciary, Armed
Forces, and internal police etc. distinguishing characteristics of
the state is its monopoly over the use of force in a given territory
Has three main characteristics:
1) Territorial boundaries: states have borders, beyond
which their legal authority is either nil or strictly limited
2) State consists of a complex set of institutions that
wield public authority the courts, the police, and the
educational system are outpost of the states authority no
less then are the elected legislatures and the bureaucracy
3) The state is defined in terms of power what Weber
called its ‘monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force
in the enforcement of its order’for what purpose and in
whose interest this power is exercised are important
questions
an adequate explanation of the state must ask on whose behalf and in
whose interest the states authority is exercised. Contemporary political
science offers three main answers to these questions: pluralism, class
analysis, feminism.
PLURALISM : the pluralist model assumes various forms, some of which
are socially centered
- the society centered variants emphasize the impact of groups in
society on the state, while state centered variants place greater emphasis
on the ability of public officials to act on their own preferences and
according to their own interests, rather than merely responding to the
demands of voters and interest groups
- pluralist models of the state do not assume that the competition
among groups takes place on a level playing field
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CLASS ANALYSIS: sees the state in capitalist societies as an instrument
through which the small minorities who control most of a society’s wealth
maintain their social and economic dominance
- the control that the dominant class has over the mass media and
popular culture, and a lack of class consciousness among even the least
privileged groups in society that stems from the widespread acceptance
of capitalist and individualistic values as normal
FEMINISM: view the state as an inherently patriarchal institution (
means the state, its structures, and its laws all serve to institutionalize
male dominance
- it is the hierarchal nature of authority embodied in the state that
makes it fundamentally patriarchal
- Marx said that state would “wither away” once classes were abolished,
feminists say that if gender discrimination were to be eliminated the state
would disappear
Government: a term that is more usefully reserved for those who have
been elected to power; more personal than the state, being associated
with a particular group of people and usually with political parties
the willingness of individuals and groups to obey the decisions of
government decisions that they may vigorously disagree with , and a
government that they may have not voted for is based on their view
that the state is legitimate
LEGITIMACY: the rules and institutions that comprise the state, and
which determine how governments are chosen are accepted by most
people as being reasonable legitimacy of the state is based on consent
of those who are governed
Democracy requires some measure of stability and respect for rules,
including those rules that determine who has the right to govern and how
and when that right ends
Government is upheld by consent or force, but usually both
Worlds greatest democracies: US & France
TOTALITARIANISM: system of government that suppresses all dissent in
the name of some supreme goal
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