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[POLSCI 1G06] - Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam (78 pages long!)


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLSCI 1G06
Professor
Todd Alway
Study Guide
Final

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McMaster
POLSCI 1G06
FINAL EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Political Science 1G06 2015 Lecture 1a
What is Political? Where is political? Defining our terms
Government
-According to one textbook (Dickerson and Flanagan), “Government…
has to do with compulsion, not voluntary decision making.
Government is a specialized activity of those individuals that make
and enforce public decisions that are binding upon the whole
community (p4)”
-Government, then, is the institutional apparatus that makes and
enforces rules on society
-But note the bolded terms: Government seems very top-down
according to this definition
-This raises a question: Is governmental hierarchy necessary for social
life? Do we need government?
-One (possible) way of answering this question is by applying Game
Theory, particularly the Prisoners Dilemma
-Game theory is a way of modelling and predicting how human beings
will interact given specific circumstances and assumptions
-Prisoners Dilemma (one type of game scenario) asks the question of
how individuals are likely to act (given specific assumptions about
individual rationality)
oIn an environment where there is no authority in place to
enforce agreements
-The result of the game: people behaving rationally on an individual
level can generate outcomes that are irrational (typically 4 results)
-D,C (Defect, Cooperate), C,C -> D,D -> C,D
-The implication of the game is that achieving spontaneous and
advantageous social cooperation is difficult
oAnd hence the need for an organization (a government of some
sort) that can enforce agreements and punish those who break
the rules
-Individual rationality can lead to an outcome that is not socially rational
-Individual reason makes it difficult for cooperations/mutual benefits
-Government helps allow for optimal results for parties rather than
allowing one’s self interest get in the way
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-Of course not every theorist accepts the view that society needs a
hierarchical government
-This model of why we need hierarchy is, for some (like anarchists), a
rationalization for a top-down political order that is not, in fact,
optimal
-Politics
-Politics is broader than government
-According to one definition, “[P]olitics is about power; about the
forces which influence and reflect its distribution and use; and about
the effect of this on resource use and distribution…it is not about
Government or government alone (Held and Leftwich, 1984, p144)”
-Politics is the study of power
-How it is used, by whom, and towards what ends
-Wherever values, resources, and opportunities are distributed, there is
politics, even if unintentional, at play
-Power can be intentional or unintentional
-There are several types of political power (intentional) – different
mechanisms are used to structure society:
-Coercion - force, using explicit mechanisms to implement involuntary
cooperation. It is now illegal for anyone to use coercion other than the
government. Coercion is not the primary mechanism used for day to
day.
-Influence - persuasion, manipulating someone to think that what
they’re doing for your project is in their interest. Education allows
certain opinions and theories to have more authority and power than
others.
-Authority - right, a person in a position of authority is viewed as
having the right to give a command. There is a certain legitimacy
associated with authority.
! 2
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