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Introduction to Politics and Government 110 Winter Term 2014.doc

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Queen's University
Political Studies
POLS 110
Oded Haklai

POLS 110B Main Concepts Comparative Politics What is comparative politics? Comparative Politics is a subfield of political science, it is used to understand political phenomena through a comparison across regions, countries, or even time periods. These comparisons help to reveal similarities and differences that allow us not only to understand the individual cases better but to also help build theories. Institutions Regular patterns of behaviour that give stability and predictability to social life. There are both informal and formal institutions. Informal - no clear written rules - include the family, social classes, or ethnic groups. This is because individuals internalize codes of behavior as a result of socialization as members of the group. Formal - codified rules and organization - include governments, political parties, bureaucracies, legislatures, constitutions and law courts. We tend to focus much more on formal institutions as they are the basis of political systems. It is also very important when discussing political institutions to understand the relationship between them and environmental forces - the political, social, and economic forces that surround them. Anthony Giddens distinguishes between system, structure, and structurartion. System - means political system - the large arena within which institutions such as parties or bureaucracies compete or cooperate for influence. Structure - is the political institutions. Structuration - The factors that both hold back and also provide resources for changes in the operation of institutions and the system as a whole. The can be levels of economic development, regional or class group activity, or even individual political actors. When there is a big event the change is a result of a number of causes, many that overlap that must be examined. Can’t just point to one specific cause. Structure and Agency Structure - refers to the impact of a particular group of institutions. What extent did the structure help to determine the outcome. Outcomes can also be path determined, so once a decision is made, other decisions along the same path become easier to follow. (George bush announcing the war and congress approval.) Agency - refers to the impact of actions taken by one or more agents, which is individuals or groups of individuals. Political outcomes are almost never determined by structure alone, but agents do not always have complete freedom as their choices are constrained by the structures that they live. Most events will have both structure and agency. Peace of Westphalia As we learned last semester the European state system itself arose out of the Peace of Westphalia, which established three main principles 1) the sovereignty of states and their fundamental right to self-determination 2) legal equality betweens states 3) non-interventional of one state in the affairs of others. The Modern State The modern state has two main functions, internal and external. The internal role of the state has three main roles that can be examined. The first role is that of partisan - every state is seen as pursuing its own institutional interests or those of the officials who work within it. The second role is that of guardian. The state is seen as working in the interests of the society as a whole. Maintaining a healthy balance between conflicting interests in society. The third is that the state is seen as a tool, a pliable instrument that is lacking autonomy, in the hands of one or more group in society. Can be seen as genuine liberal democracy where the people control the actions of the state. But this could also be a state controlled by one distinct section of society such as big business. Modern states tend to perform all three roles at the same time Strong vs Weak States What makes a state strong or weak? Generally a state is classified as strong or weak if it has the ability to its citizens with specific political goods or functions. The most important of which are: 1) Human security 2) Predictable and recognizable methods of adjudicating disputes 3) Freedom to participate in politics and compete for office, respect, and support for national and regional political institutions, such as legislatures and courts, tolerance and dissent and difference, and fundamental civil and human rights. The Functions of Legislatures Having a legislature is pretty much absolutely vital to having a thriving democratic state. They serve as checks on the power of the executive branch of the state, without them power would be highly concentrated and could lead to it being used oppressively. The best way to study legislatures from a comparative perspective is to look at the functions they perform in their particular political systems. The functions of parliaments are divided into three groups, representational, governmental, and procedural. Representational Represent both citizens and particular groups in society. There are two main ways electoral systems function, one is plurality and the other is proportional representation. Plurality is the system that we have in Canada, it’s also known as first past the post, in that all you require is a majority of the votes to win. The other major electoral system is proportional representation, which is designed to achieve a close approximation between the number of votes received by each party and the number of seats that turns into. Governmental Functions in include forming governments, developing policy, holding the government accountable for its actions, and enhancing government communication with citizens. Here we can distinguish between Parliamentarianism and Presidentialism. Parliamentarianism - the system we have in Canada, the choice of head of government is decided by the parliament. The head of state is also a member of the parliament. Presidential - the legislative and executive branches are separate and the legislature has no say in the choice of president. The person is instead decided by the nation as a whole. Procedural - Functions include ritualizing conflict and ensuring transparency. Ritualizing conflict - basically the provide a safe forum for the expression of differing views. Ensuring transparency - publicize issues and policies. Being open to the general public. Political Parties Ware defines a political party as an institution that (a) seeks influence in a state, often by attempting to occupy positions in government, and (b) usually consists of more than a single interest in the society and to some degree attempts to aggregate interests. There are seven specific functions of political parties, though not all parties perform all seven and their priority can be different depending on whether the state is democratic or authoritarian. But the seven identified are: 1) Legitimation of the political system; 2) Integration and mobilization of citizens; 3) Representation; 4) Structuring of the popular vote; 5) Aggregation of diverse interests; 6) Recruitment of leaders for public office; 7) Formulation of public policy, facilitating choice between policy options. Rule of Law Fuller laid down 8 conditions that must prevail in order for laws to be just 1) general in scope 2) public 3) prospective rather than retroactive 4) clear 5) consistent 6) relatively constant 7) capable of being obeyed 8) enforced as written Constitutions Anthony King defines a constitution as - “The set of the most important rules and common understandings in any given country that regulate the relations among that country’s governing institutions and also the relations between that country’s governing institutions and the people of that country” Aspecific document that lays down the basic institutions of state and the procedures for changing them, as well as the basic rights and obligations of the state’s citizens. Serves as the basic source of national law, individual laws and legal codes are all expected to conform to it. Only 3 Western states - the UK, New Zealand, and Israel do not have written constitutions. With the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982 Canada gained the rights to make its own laws without having to get approval of the Queen. Written constitutions are on the rise, with 81 states having adopted new constitutions, with 33 also carrying out major constitutional reforms. Because constitutions are the supreme law of the land, and because many of our rights as citizens are enshrined in them, they are very difficult to actually change. Fundamental Rights Amain feature of constitutions is the fundamental rights of citizens that they uphold. The firsts documents listing rights such as the US constitution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in revolutionary France focused much more on the legal basis between the state and citizen. So issues of due process, as well as political rights such as freedom of expression, etc. It was in the 20th century that some constitutions had citizen’s rights that extended beyond just the political to include more broader social rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was one of the first documents to establish social rights. Such as the right to social security, to equal pay for equal work, education, etc. Federalism, Consociational Democracy, andAsymmetrical Decentralization Federalism is a territorial decentralization of power designed to act as another check against government oppression. Like the US, Canada is also a federal system with power being shared between the federal and provincial governments, each having their own jurisdictions. According to Robertson “Federalism is a form of government in which power is constitutionally divided between different authorities in such a way that each exercises responsibility for a particular set of functions and maintains its own institutions to discharge those functions.” Consociationalism This was based on the experience of a few small states with deep multiethnic and multiconfessional cleavages, mainly in Europe, that had achieved intercommunal harmony and cooperation without a formal federal system. It relies not on formal constitutional arrangements, but on cooperation between elites. According to Lijphart there are four main characteristics of consociational democracies: 1) Government by grand coalition, government includes deputies from the parties representing all the main communities, which usually meant government held far more than a bare majority of seats in parliament. 2) Segmental or subcultural autonomy: each ethnic or confessional community is responsible for administering policies in specific areas affecting them. 3) Proportional representation: simple majoritarian rule very unlikely, and proportional representation in the distribution of posts in government bureaucracies, the distribution of funds, etc. 4) Agreement on minority vetoes for certain types of legislation. Civil Society Robertson defines civil society as : the framework within which those without political authority live their lives - economic relationships, family and kinship structures, religious institutions and so on. It is a purely analytical concept because civil society does not exist independently of political authority, nor vice versa, and it is generally believed, neither could long continue without the other; therefor, no very clear boundary can be drawn between the two. Interest Groups One of those groups that are a component of civil society are interest groups. They are also an essential element of democracy. Interest groups have attracted an enormous amount of comment and analysis, some see them as a negative influence on democracy since some interest groups have more influence at the expense of others. However some argue that they are a positive since they facilitate the input of new ideas into the political process. According to Robertson interest groups are “associations formed to promote a sectional interest in the political system”. Unlike political parties their focus tends to be very narrow and on specific issues. There are both insider and outsider interest groups. Insider - concentrate on winning support through lobbying and personal contacts. Outsider - rely mainly on winning over public opinion through campaigning, the media, etc. There are 8 different types of interest groups: 1) professional associations 2) groups of business, commerce, and industry 3) trade unions 4) agriculture organizations 5) single-interest groups, such as the National RifleAssociation 6) ideological interest groups 7) public interest groups, such asAmnesty International 8) welfare associations, such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Modern Corporatism As we’ve seen governments don’t treat all interest groups equally, they tend to listen to the insider groups as opposed to the outsiders. Modern corporatism is a term that refers to a model in which the state formalizes its relations with the insider groups that is considers important. Usually groups representing sections of society that are politically or economically strategic. These groups are usually known as peak associations. There are two forms of corporatism Societal corporatism - the relationship is formed in response to social or economic pressures originating outside of the government, so thee nature of the pressure will help to determine which groups the government works with. State corporatism - the state takes the lead and decides who it will work with. Media New communications technologies have revolutionized the role of the media in politics. They provide civil society with new arenas for activity and offer ordinary citizens as new public space in which they can make an impact on politics. There are three reasons for this. 1) The internet and mobile phones have transformed the ability of ordinary citizens to organize themselves in groups even in repressive regimes. 2) They have widened the opportunities for people outside the media world to report news and offer influential commentary. 3) They have the potential to transform decision-making institutions as well, through direct voting and referendums. Political Culture For a state to function it requires legitimacy, this is not only for how we select our leaders, but is is equally important that the state’s policies and processes are deemed appropriate by the particular national community in question. So legitimacy also depends on the political culture of the people concerned. Political culture is the totality of ideas and attitudes towards authority, discipline, governmental responsibilities and entitlements, and associated patterns of cultural transmission such as the education system and family life. In their work The Civic Culture, Almond and Verba hypothesized that there were three possible collective attitudes towards politics. : parochial, subject, and participant. Parochial - groups would take little interest in politics, especially at the national level. If they had any interest in politics it would be events specifically affecting their lives. Subjects - would be interested in national politics, but only as observers. They might cast votes in elections but not feel capable of making any greater contribution to political life: thus they would leave it to established elites to make decisions. Participants - feel that they could and should contribute to national decision making, and not just by voting. They would feel they are entitled to ensure that their views were taken into account when decisions were made, they would join interest groups, contact the media, etc. All three types are present in almost all societies, but in differing proportions. They proportion of participant attitudes would be present in a mature democracy, however no democracy could be viable if everyone was participant. So it is essential that more people would have to have the subject role or attitude towards democracy for the system to be stable. There are five ways political culture has been challenged: 1) Identifying a Homogenous National Political Culture 2) Identifying Causal Linkages betweenAttitudes and Political Outcomes 3) The state May shape Political Culture to its own End 4) The Impact of Globalization 5) Political Culture is Used to Explain why change cannot happen Despite the problems mentioned, political culture still exists today and has a number of factors that favour it. 1) Citizens of different states do have different attitudes towards similar institutions and issues. Residents in North America and the Islamic World have very different perspectives on their states. 2) PoliticalActors believe there are differences in political culture. 3) Political culture can be extremely important when we look at the imposition of democracy in other countries. The successful establishment of democracy in Germany and Japan after the Second World War shows that it can be transplanted. However the experiences in Iraq also shows that foreign models of democracy cannot simply be grafted onto indigenous social structures. 4) Political culture may indeed help explain different policy outcomes.Attitudes towards the welfare state differ considerably between Europeans andAmericans. 5) Anation’s political culture is part of the national identity without which nationalism could not exist, so ways of analyzing it have paralleled those applied to the study of nationalism. Ethnicity and Nationalism The main thing to note when studying nationalism or ethnicity is that there are two dominant schools of thought. The first is constructivism which is the main paradigm in nationalism studies which basically means nations are historically and socially constructed. This is what we will see inAnderson’s definitions. The other school of thought is primordialism which is the opposite of constructivism, basically it argues that nations have always existed, they are a naturally occurring phenomenon. BenedictAnderson - Imagined Communities Nation - It is an imagined political community, and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. It is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which enlightenment and revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm. It is imagined as a community, because regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep horizontal comradeship. Nationalism - My point of departure is that nationality, or, as one might prefer to put it in view of that words multiple significations, nation-ness, as well as nationalism, are cultural artefacts of a particular kind. To understand them properly we need to consider carefully how they came into historical being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today , they command such profound emotional legitimacy. Eman - Intro to Ethnic Conflict Ethnic Plurarlism Ethnic conflict is the result of ethnic pluralism, and ethnic pluralism occurs when two or more ethnic communities occupy the same political space. Political space refers of the area under the jurisdiction of the same political authority. Most states are multiethnic, only a few such as Korea and Portugal are ethnically homogenous. The great majority contain one or more ethnic minorities of significant size. Using 1990 census figures, Gurr identified 223 politically salient minorities. Minorities that are large enough to be politically significant are found in all countries, in rich countries (France and Canada), and poor countries (India and Ethiopia); large countries, small countries, old states and new states. Ethnic awareness is a form of collective identity or membership in a group that shares certain common attributes. Most individuals share a number of collective identities. Ethnic identity does not imply ethnic conflict, and ethnic conflicts are not necessarily violent. Most relations among ethnic communities and between them and governments have been historically and are at present conducted peacefully. Tensions between Catalans, and the Spanish government have been adjusted peacefully, while those involving Basque separatists in the same country have been punctured by sporadic episodes of deadly violence. When political scientists discuss conflict they refer to competition among groups for power, resources, opportunities, status, or respect. Competition that is usually pursued through peaceful means but can at times turn violent. While ethnic nationalism has become the dominant political ideology in the modern era, Eman argues that ethnic awareness and solidarity has deep roots in human history. Which can be seen to be more of a primordial argument. Finally ethnicity can be related to class. Throughout eastern and central Europe the Roma people occupy the lowest rungs of the social and economic hierarchy. They are politically powerless, undereducated, confined to marginal and menial occupations, widely believed to be engaged in petty crime, socially despised, and their culture is treated with contempt. In situations like this ethnicity becomes coterminous with class. At the other end of the spectrum Dutch-speaking Flemings in Belgium are distributed in more or less similar proportions among owners and managers of enterprises, the professions, and skilled workers. They are equally acti
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