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University of Illinois
Political Science
PS 100

PS100 4/9/2013 10:20:00 AM Political science: “a set of techniques, concepts, and approaches whos objective is to increase the clarity and accuracy of our understandings of political phenomena” Goals: Explainating, prediction and analysis- figuring out why things happened in order to help predict what will happen IE 2012 election and WWII (maybe we can control if we know why things happen) Accumulation of knowledge- knowing the rules and concepts to build on the past in order to be successful in the future Generation of new and interesting questions- brings up topics with a broader view of arguments and give more angles and solutions to problems The discipline: Traditionally divided into four fields 1. Political theory 2. American Politics 3. Comparative politics 4. International Relations Normative: Ideal, should Positive: describe how things are Empirical: related to data- most what were going to study because it gives you facts about how the world works Political Theory: Normative basis of the entire discipline. How societies should be organized Divided into three different eras: 1. Ancients- plato, aristotile, greeks, ties to classist theory. Wrote a lot about how society should be structures (democracy that is different than how we define democracy) 2. Modernists- Hobbes, Carl Marx, John Locke- generally concerned with democracy in the modern sense. Concerned with human nature being good or evil. Hobbes says that the state of nature is without govt life would be nasty brutal and short. People are not generally nice to each other, so we need to give all political power to a king who will take the power and protect us from everyone else. Government is a form of protection. 3. Contemporaries- some study past texts and ideas, some are more focused on creating new ideas and angles. American political thought American Politics: Largely run by Americans for Americans. Study political behavior- how do people participate in politics. How does the masses affect politics? Who votes and who doesn’t vote? Why do people vote? What influences these factors? What drives public opinion? (social movement and protests) studies different groups and what influences them (race, gender…) study surveys. Study political institutions: why is it organized the way it is? Why do we have filibusters? How does the speaker of the house affect the outturn of a bill? Study procedure of congress. Comparative Politics: Studying a country’s govt that is not America. Study of the organizations and policies of foreign countries as well as their demographics and the role of politics in historical events. Why does Africa continue to have development problems? Why did the west undergo industrialization and not the east? Why are some countries democratic and some not? International Relations: Why do wars happen? What are the conditions for peace? National political trade, why do countries invest in each other? Research Rules 1. Question 2. Theory 3. Evidence Topics of Interest: Welfare spending- how do they decide what to spend and where to spend it, how long are people on welfare and what are the factors that affect that Foreign policy such as defense etc Healthcare law Fiscal policy Foreign policy interventions Research Question: Think about a question such as why do some things happen and not others, why is there a difference? What explains that difference? (why are some countries poor and some countries rich?, Why do wars happen in some places and not others?) Questions about facts rather than “should” something happen (ie should abortion be illegal vs what would happen if taxes were higher) Positive vs normative questions Explanation vs Understanding Importance of the project: is it addressing a big or major issue? Theory: organizing facts into a casual story Three steps (1) identify the dependent variable. (2) find the independent variable and (3) casual mechanism. Ex: US intervention in foreign affairs: (1) successful vs non-successful (2) stable govt in the foreign country, nature of the conflict is violent or peaceful, domestic and international support… (3) take each independent variable and explain why it would effect the dependent variable. A good theory will include Covariation: variable lining up with each other in a logical way Temporal order: Causes precede effects Internally Consistent: claims and assumptions should fit together Why are some theories better than others? How well it explains evidence OUTLINE: 1. What is politics? Distribution- who gets what when and how? Economics: efficiency of the distribution of resources Power- the ability of a person to convince someone else to do something that they wouldn’t have done. Collective Dilemmas Individuals sharing a common interest that can be furthered by cooperating with one another may rationally decide not to cooperate, leading to a sub- optimal collective outcome Examples: Cleaning the bathro
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