POL101Y1 Lecture Notes - Collective Action, Adam Gopnik, Organizational Commitment

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Oct 22 Lecture
PROBLEMS ON DEMOCRACY
huge increase in democracy over recent years
same time: 53 breakdowns in democracy
half of those did not return to democracy
while they have grown, there have been a serious number that have broken
down
therefore: democracy is fragile; relatively new set of political institutions
we’ll look at challenges within democracy, internally
Democracy and Equality
Virtues of Democracy
*rules of the game quite variable in different contexts
rule of law- not rule of man, therefore they are predictable
*managing diversity- people have different contending political interests,
inclusive, recognizes that society’s are diverse
*institutionalized uncertainty- the presence of always more alternatives, you
can vote the gov out, no guarantee of a winner-> always alternatives, this in
turn creates stability
*variations of democracy
flexible to accommodate new contexts, adaptable to many different
circumstances
*equality
I Equality of OPPORTUNITY
political equality: ex, separation of church and state, all equal under rule of
law
procedural democracy: “rules of the game- how do we create rules of the
game that facilitate political equality” (right to vote)
polyarchy (Robert Dahl)
- public contestation (we should expect the realm of public descendation,
people can protest, provision of pluralism in the public sphere)
- inclusive participation (not exclusive, we live by rules of inclusive
participation)
democracy assures that equality is a process
II Equality of OUTCOME
political-economic equity
procedural versus substantive democracy (rules only important when they
have equitable outcomes)
example: democratic welfare state (what kind of outcomes do we want?
What do we consider fair?)
not focus on rules on game, focus on outcome-> equitable outcome
Which is more important to you?
A. Equality of opportunity: equal rights, procedural fairness, rule of law
B. Equality of outcome- are the outcomes fair?: equity, quality of democracy, re-
distribution
equality is a form of democracy
equality as a process- introduces challenges
Equality of Opportunity- Challenges
Challenge 1. Collective Action Problem
Is it important to you who our next PM will be?
A. It is VERY important to me
B. It is MODERATELY important to me
C. It is NOT AT ALL important to me
My single vote matters in the outcome of election
A. Agree
B. Disagree
Will you vote in the next federal election?
A. Yes
B. No
Voter Turnout Rate
Toronto- 50.6% in 2010
Ontario- 49.2% in 2011
Canada voter turn out rates- 2/3s (/97) sliding down to 59% (/08)
US Presidential Elections
voter turnout rate (53% in 1984, 57%)
it is so important for political equality to recognize the right to vote
voting turnout rates hover below 50%
Collective Action Problem
no more than 60% of eligible voters will actually vote in the election
this is the collective action problem ^
when it comes to self-interest, 40% won’t go to the ballot box yet collectively
we care about who the next PM will be
we all believe in collective goods but individually we don’t make the effort/
care
this is the reason for the lack of voting ^
(i) costs : having to study elections etc that take up your time, costly to cast
vote
(ii) benefits : so miniscule that cost to engage in that act is irrational; benefit
not worth the cost
(iii) free- riding : “somebody else will do it, somebody else will vote, then I’ll
gain the benefits”
it is not “rational” to vote, it is only through collective interests
costs outweigh benefits, you can free-ride
serious challenge to equality of opportunity in democracy
Challenge 2- The Fallacy of Democratic Pluralism
democratic pluralism- assumes political equality
example: US health care reform
if individual voice was heard- why did this not change (3/4s of americans
wanted health care service)?
Congress- two houses, committees, power structures, presidency, you have
to get a lot of people to agree in order to get it passed in the USA
Easier to kill the bill
Despite the procedurally fair rules we still have a deteriorating of authority-
it’s a myth
Pluralism or procedural fairness is false
“The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a
strong upper-class accent.” Elmer E. Schattschneider
it should reflect majority views- but it only protects minority but powerful
interests
procedural democracy is hope that leads to equality of opportunity, BUT,
power not equally distributed
Challenge 3. Elite Democracy
everyone has right to vote, everyone can represent interests
representative democracy is in many ways elite democracy- lack of trust
myth: anyone can be a representative; only the elites can
*wealth: if not wealthy, connected