politics lecture notes

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Published on 18 Apr 2011
Free Trade and Democracy
-CATJO Canadian alliance for trade and job opportunities
oCATJO funded a media blitz promoting the progressive conservatives and
their free trade policies
oThe PCs won w/ 43% of the vote and six weeks later the Canada-US free
trade agreement was implemented...
-Who backed CATJO? BCNI the business council on national issues
oThe guys at BCNI wanted free trade because it would benefit their companies
What is Politics? Key Terms
-Power: ability to control others, even against their will
-The use of power sometimes involves force
-Ppl obey political rules b/c they are afraid to disobey, and b/c ppl agree w/ the
distribution system or at least accept it
-Authority: legitimate, institutionalized power
-When ppl basically agree w/ how the political machine is run, raw power becomes
- Max Weber described three ideal bases on which authority can rest
oTraditional authority: the norm in tribal and feudal societies, involves
rulers inheriting authority thru family or clan ties. The right of a family or
clan to monopolize leadership is widely believed to derive from the will of a
oLegal-rational authority: is typical of modern societies. It derives from
respect for the law. Laws specify how one can achieve office. Ppl generally
believe these laws are rational. If someone achieves office by following these
laws, ppl respect his or her authority
oCharismatic authority: is based on belief in the claims of extraordinary
individuals that they are inspired by a god or some higher principle
Political revolution : is the overthrow of political institutions by an
opposition movement and its replacement by new institutions
-State: consists of institutions responsible for formulating and carrying out a
countrys laws and public policies
-Civil society: is the private sphere of social life
-Authoritarian: states sharply restrict citizen control of the state
-Totalitarian: a state in which citizens lack almost any control of the state
-Democracy: citizens exercise a high degree of control over the state. They do this
mainly by choosing representatives in regular, competitive elections.
-Political parties: are organizations that compete for control of govt in regular
elections. In the process, they give voice to policy alternatives and rally adult
citizens to vote
-Lobbies: are organizations formed by special interest groups to advise and influence
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-Mass media: oh wow Im not copying that.
-Public opinion: refers to the values and attitudes of the adult population as a
whole. It is expressed mainly in polls and letters to lawmakers, and gives politicians
a reading of citizen preferences.
-Social movements: are collective attempts to change all or part of the political or
social order by means of rioting, petitioning, striking, demonstrating, and
establishing pressure groups, unions, and political parties.
Pluralist Theory
-Pluralist theory: holds that power is widely dispersed. As a result, no group
enjoys disproportionate influence and decisions are usually reached thru negotiation
and compromise
-Pluralists believed that politics worked much the same way in the US as a whole
and in other democracies, such as Canada too
oSaid democracies are heterogeneous societies w/ many competing interests
and centres of power
ob/c there is so much heterogeneity between and within groups, no single
group can control political life
-pluralists argue that b/c no one group of ppl is always able to control the political
agenda or the outcome of political conflicts, democracy is guaranteed
Elite Theory
-elite theory: holds that small groups occupying the command posts of the most
influential institutions make the important decisions that profoundly affect all
members of society. Moreover, they do so without much regard for elections or
public opinion
-elites: are small groups that control the command posts of institutions
-C. Wright Mills was an elite theorist
- Mills wrote that the ppl who controlled Americas 200-300 biggest institutions make
important decisions that profoundly affect all members of society........
- Mills showed how the corporate, state, and military elites (the three elites) are
-Ppl move from one elite group to another, their children intermarry, they maintain
close social contacts
oThey tend to by recruited from upper-middle and upper class
- Mills denied that these connections turn the three elites into what Marx called a
ruling class
-Ruling class: is a self-conscious, cohesive group of ppl in elite positions. They act to
advance their common interests, and corporate executives lead them
-The three elites are relatively independent of one another
Marxist Rejoinders to Elite Theory
-Some Marxists (instrumentalists) deny that elites enjoy more or less equal power
-They say elites form a ruling class dominated by big business
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