An unexpected discovery about politics
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. 1984. The Spiral of Silence
- Voters are more likely to vote for parties they consider likely to win,
notwithstanding their political programmes.
- This facilitates “monopolization” of politics by mainstream parties; increased
likelihood of winning by incumbents.
- Less popular parties and projects becoming increasingly marginal.
- This is a cultural theory of political outcomes; it supplements the materialist
(political-economy) and institutionalist (state) theories of political outcomes.
Main concepts of the sociology of politics
- Politics: the process of making socially significant decisions that affect large
groups of population.
- Ramos and Stanbridge: the process of managing conflict, including the
regulation of power of non-state actors.
- Max Weber on power: ability of a social actor to control behaviour of others
despite their resistance.
- Max Weber on authority: power accepted as legitimate by people who are
controlled by it.
- A set of institutions that determine and apply laws and public policies. It
claims a monopoly on legitimate use of violence on a territory.
- Bases of state power (Ramos and Stanbridge):
1. Legitimacy among the population (ideological control)
2. Monopoly on legitimate violence
3. Acceptance by other powerful organizations
- Functions of the state:
1. Coordination and organization (including accumulation and protection of
welfare of citizens; structural functionalism)
2. Social control (Naiman: protection of interests of the ruling class – legitimation
and coercion, Marxism). State and civil society
- Ramos and Stanbridge: states emerged with industrialism and modernity
- Naiman: states emerged with class society.
- Knezevic: nation states emerged with capitalism.
- Civil society is the arena of uncoerced, voluntary collective action. In theory, it is
distinct from the state, family and market; in practice, the boundaries between
them are often complex, blurred, and negotiated.
- Separation between the state and civil society, between party politics and social
movements, is often overstated.
- Same theories explain success of political parties and social movements.
- Democracy: political system that represents interests of the entire population
and is responsive to demands by the population.
- Formal democracy – multi-party parliamentarism: free and fair elections,
ability of elected representatives to influence political decisions.
- Prorogation: discontinuation of a session of parliament, curtails even formal
- Substantive democracy: multi-part parliamentarism is NOT necessarily
democratic, because inequality restricts political influence of large portions of