Week 1: January 12th
Critical Issues and Key Concepts
What is politics?
Politics is an activity in which conflicting interests struggle for power, advantage
or dominance, in the making and execution of public policy. David Easton’s
definition; Harold Lasswell’s definition.
Politics takes place in public. You make binding decisions in the public
Power – the ability of one actor to impose its will on another, get its own way, do
or get what it wants. May involve coercion, influence or authority.
To achieve what one wants
Influence – the ability of one actor to convince another that a particular action is
reasonable or in their best interests.
Authority – recognition that those issuing a command have the right to do so
and be obeyed.
(Traditional, Charismatic, Rational, or Bureaucratic authority)
Constitution – provides the legal basis for the legitimate exercise of state power,
but may also limit the power of the state.
Separation between political powers: Provincial, Federal, Regional.
Canada’s constitution shapes and limits powers
Laws – society’s system of binding rules that ensure that everyone is subject to
the same rules and regulations.
What is the state?
The state manages conflict associated with the allocation of resources within a
territory where it is sovereign and protects itself and its subjects from both
internal and external threats.
Has three characteristics:
o I) Territorial boundaries
o II) Complex set of institutions
o III) Monopoly over the use of physical force
Sovereignty – ultimate control or independence of a state within a defined
territory. Internal sovereignty and external sovereignty.
Government – political institutions and the individuals elected or appointed to
provide direction for a society through the management of the public’s business.