POLS 212 Study Guide - Final Guide: Third-Wave Feminism, Grandfather Clause, The Strongest
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• A concept used in political science, and other disciplines like sociology, to explore
how society is divided into groups. They are deep and persistent divisions in society and
are used to describe, among other things, voting behaviour.
INTRODUCTION: THE STUDY OF POLITICS
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Figure 1.1: A Model of the Political System
Approaches to the Study of Politics
Five approaches can help interpret different aspects of the Canadian political system:
• Public Choice
• Class Analysis
The Pluralist Approach
1. Power is widely dispersed in the political system and not monopolized by any state
or corporate elite.
2. Individuals are free to employ a variety of resources at their disposal and to organize
whatever groups they wish in order to back their demands to the authorities.
3. The authorities make decisions that are basically compromises among the various
competing interests that articulate their demands.
4. Different policy areas are characterized by different individuals and groups making
demands on different authorities.
5. Advocacy group activity is increasingly replacing individual and party activity in the
Public Choice Approach
• Also known as the rational choice approach
• Arguably the dominant approach in political science.
Can be summarized as follows:
1. Politics is a bargaining process in which both politicians and voters act in a rational,
self-interested fashion, the politicians making promises in return for votes.
2. Politicians and parties generally adopt policies that will get themselves elected, and,
other things being equal, they respond to those interests representing the largest
number of votes.
3. Politicians concentrate on marginal, undecided, or strategically located voters.
4. Politicians try to maximize publicity of their successes and minimize their failures,
take credit for good things and blame others for the bad, and manipulate the timing of
positive and negative decisions.
5. A similar rational, self-serving bargaining process also goes on at other points in the
political system, such as between politicians and the bureaucracy, the authorities and
advocacy groups, and the authorities and the media.
The Class Analysis Approach
1. The corporate elite or bourgeoisie not only control the private sector of the economy,
but also largely determine the shape of public policies and ensure that these policies
are designed to facilitate its accumulation of wealth.
2. This predominant influence is the result of the bourgeoisie‘s providing personnel for
public offices and funds for political parties, shaping societal values, and organizing
pressure groups; it also results from the dependence of the state on the capitalist
system for the provision of jobs and economic growth.
3. The petite bourgeoisie, the new middle class, and even the working class must be
accommodated to some extent by public policies that legitimate the capitalist system,
and these elements can influence events if they act as a class.
4. If these classes are not satisfied by legitimation, the government may have to resort
5. Especially in an era of globalization, modern states must also contend with powerful
transnational corporations and international agreements that states have signed on their
The State-Centred Approach
1. The state is largely autonomous from societal forces.
2. The authorities decide what is good for society and design policies to fulfill their
vision of the public interest.
3. The politicians rely heavily on the bureaucracy for advice.
4. The authorities seek to enhance their autonomy by the internal generation of
information and by maximizing their discretion, jurisdiction, and financial resources.
5. If necessary, the authorities resort to the manipulation of information or coercion in
order to persuade the public of their wisdom, or seek the support of the most relevant
(Approaches to the Study of Politics, cont‘d)
1. The government must increasingly respond to demands from external actors to
take certain actions or to refrain from actions already being taken.
2. The government is constrained from acting as it otherwise would by the rules of
international organizations it has joined or international agreements it has signed.
3. Those branches of government most closely involved with external relations have
become more active and significant than those dealing with purely domestic
4. Actors in the political system at the citizen level increasingly interact with
counterparts in other states to protect and promote their common interests.
5. Political ideas and ideologies and their transmission are increasingly globalized
and less distinctive to individual states.
How can we identify and study regionalism in Canadian politics?
• Are regional differences present when people belonging to the same social
categories manifest different political preferences from one region of the country
The Canadian Election Study (CES): http://ces-eec.org/pagesE/home.html
Canadian Opinion Research Archive (CORA):
Are provincial identities a product of strong provincial governments? (Cairns 1977)
Quantitative (CES) vs. Qualitative (Wiseman 1981) analysis?
Regions and Regionalism
There are 6 main regions in Canada:
• The Atlantic Provinces
• The Prairies
• British Columbia
• The North
Regional economic differences can be observed in the following three areas:
• Primary industries (raw materials)
• Secondary industries (manufacturing)
• Tertiary industries (services)
Regional Economic Conflicts
National Energy Program (1980)
• Emergency policy introduced in the wake of the 1970s energy crisis by Liberal
Cleavage: a concept used in political science, and other disciplines like sociology, to explore how society is divided into groups. They are deep and persistent divisions in society and are used to describe, among other things, voting behaviour. Figure 1. 1: a model of the political system. Five approaches can help interpret different aspects of the canadian political system: pluralist, public choice, class analysis, state-centered, globalization. Public choice approach: also known as the rational choice approach, arguably the dominant approach in political science. Are provincial identities a product of strong provincial governments? (cairns 1977) There are 6 main regions in canada: ontario, quebec, the atlantic provinces, the prairies, british columbia, the north. Regional economic differences can be observed in the following three areas: primary industries (raw materials, secondary industries (manufacturing, tertiary industries (services) National energy program (1980: emergency policy introduced in the wake of the 1970s energy crisis by liberal federal government. http://www. cbc. ca/archives/categories/economy-business/energy/striking-oil-in- alberta/lougheed-retaliates. html.