POLB52 Lecture 3 – January 24 2012.
How to Study Canada? What method, theories, and ways of understanding politics are
we going to utilize?
Institutional approaches – they are rules and sets of ideas.
These rules govern relations between individuals. They can be written or
We’re in an institution because we are in a context of set rules
There are specific rules that govern our context.
A collection of these rules (Ex. Senate, supreme court, parliament, bureaucracy,
university are institutions)
Electoral system – different ways of counting the result of a vote. Each person
gets to vote, they just need to rank them. Then the first choices are the
Institutions shape the voting behaviour of people. Ex. Proportional electoral
system. If we change the rule of the electoral system we get first past-the-vote
system where the most votes of the party wins.
Rule change, behaviour changes.
Federalism emerged because there were different groups in society. We created
provinces. The provinces are institutions because they have borders that people
Weakness of the senate – In the US everybody is concern about their Senate. In
Canada, our senate is powerless because it doesn’t have any real power. Instead,
they look to the provincial government.
There’s impact of culture in our charter in Canada – the extent to which we have
rights barrier. Debatable whether it’s debatable or not. The charter has
fundamental changes. Citizens think Canadian constitution is theirs now ever
since the charter has been adopted.
Rules can influence people can create identity, affect people’s preferences, and
creates societies and community.
Group based approaches
Group based approaches – Firstly, based on Marxist approaches. Marxist approaches of
politics, refers to a lot of Marxist ideas of its connection to society, and conflicts
between labour (workers) and capital (people who hire workers). There are two main groups, workers (who produce capital) and capital (people
who own capital). In order for a business owner to make money, they need to
charge more of their stuff they produce than the money spent making the
There’s conflict over wages. Business owners increase profits and decrease
wages. If wages go up then profits go down.
The state sides with business against workers.
Pluralist approach – Says there is competition between groups. These groups are
collective groups (ex. women’s groups, regional groups, all different kind of groups).
They join together because common interest and advocate politically.
These competitions are more or less equal. Some people are good in things and
some good at other things. Politics manage this competition between these
Cleavage theory – Within society, there are certain groups (ex. gender, education,
regional differences). From these differences emerge political parties and formal groups.
Traditional political party – left wing and right wing (conservative and liberal
respectively). These stem from the labour and business society.
Argument– societies are most democratic and remain democratic when you
have cross-cutting cleavages.
o Societies are least democratic when it’s over-lacking cleavages.
o Cross-cutting cleavages are people united by certain
characteristics but not in other characteristics. Also united with
other people with another characteristic but not the other. (Ex.
people united by income group but not racial group)
o The problem is when you get over-lapping cleavages which is very
huge differences between characteristic. (Ex. one ethnic group
gets all the money and the other doesn’t. One ethnic group lives
in a different part and the other ethnic group on another part.)
o The goal is to have cross-cultural cleavages.
State – based approaches – states, government, and different competitions of social
groups can test each other to gain benefits. They use the government to gain benefits.
The state itself is an institution that has its own interest. State is a group and actor that
interact with all these other groups in society. States has different interest from these
other groups. Individual-level approaches
Individual-level approaches – Focused on the individual human being. (Ex. Rational
choice theory and political psychology).
It is based on everyone in North America.
o *The picture on the slide*-Someone produced a map of North America
and each dot represent each person.
Focus on individual person as appose to groups and states.