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Introduction - What is politics?

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Vuk Radmilovic

16 SEPTEMBER 2013 Politics – who gets what, when and how in the world of limited resources (scarcity)  Limited resources – any resource that is not in infinite abundance is a limited resource (oil, air & money)  Politics is also about fighting, conflict, creates winners and losers  By getting something, means will be less available for someone else Who are the actors: young/old, men/women, minority groups, voters, citizens, political parties, interest groups What are the resources: money (and all the things that money can buy), recognition, identity, vote, etc When is the time?  All things are contextualized in politics  Why is it that in that particular time did women obtain the right to vote, which conditions which lead to the expansion of vote, lead to this  Experts in contemporary history How is the manner through which actors obtain the resources?  Courts can be critical actors in deciding who gets when and how Power is the ability to influence what happens by producing complains with one’s wishes, power is essential for determining winners and losers  Power can be basic on three things  1) Coercions – ensuring compliance through the threat/ use of force  2) Influence – ensuring compliance through persuasion/ convincing  3) Authority - … through the belief that the person/ organizations should be obeyed because of their standing or position State is a modern form of organized political life that is characeried by a population, a territory, and a sov govt that claims a monopoly of legitimate force, and the power to the make the ultimate decisions of the populations and territory Three key elements 1. Population 2. Territory 3. Sovereign Government Typically created through wars and crimes, territories are esp important Sovereignty – is the final and total power over a population Government is an organ of the state that is composed of individuals and institutions in charge of making and enforcing public decisions that are binding upon the whole community  Much of political science has to do with the govts  The govts has the monopoly over making public decisions  Different functions: protect people from external threats, rule, services  Other actors can influence policy through the govt  Govts are in charge of making public policy, defined as a set of laws (but also statements, rules, regulations, actions, and/ or lack thereof) governing a particular public opinion  Govt is typically divided between three branches, the legislative, the executre and the judicial (adjudication of societal disputes and interpreting laws) Liberal Democracy has two key req 1. A set of formal institutions 2. A set of social and cultural values Formal institutions 1. Leg and exec branches of the govts are chosen on the basis of regular and competitive elections (the democracy in the lib dem) a. Majorities can use this to oppress minorities b. Procedural components (form), not substance of law 2. A set of civil liberties (or ind rights and freedoms) is also protected (the liberal in the lib dem) a. Concerned with the substance of laws b. No pub decisions should unreasonable discriminate or limit civ libs Liberal democratis instituaions seek to reconcile (democratic values of) majority rule and contestable elctions with (liberal values of) the protection of indiviudals rights and freedoms How can state be organized to bring about the above necessities? 1. Parli
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