WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION
Define Politics and why it is important
-can be viewed as a feature of all organized human activity
-the laws and policies of government can affect all aspects of our lives and society
-political decisions affect the economy, employment, the equality of the environment ,
international relations and the freedoms you can enjoy
-understanding politics can help you think of issues
-invisible but powerful
• -Power is often defined as the ability to achieve an objective by influencing the behaviour of
• The resources that give individuals and groups the potential to exert political power are
• Power is often thought of in terms of some having power over others, or in a more positive way
as the power to achieve collective goals.
- Acceptance by the members of a political community that those in postitions of
authority have the right to govern
charismatic authority; someone being appointed to because of their personality
traditional authority; (Queen)
legal-rational authority (happens in Canada)
• A government whose rule is considered legitimate can rely more on authority than on coercion
to get people to obey laws.
- Right to exercise power that is accepted by those being governed as legitimate
What are the common good, individualist and pluralist perspectives? How do they relate to
• Common good: what is good for the entire community
• The common good of the country may not be the same as the common good of other political
communities to which we belong (i.e. local, provincial, global).
• Individualist Perspective: people acting primarily in accordance with their own interests
• Pluralist System: groups representing a variety of interests influence political decisions -
government tries to satisfy as many groups and there is no dominant group influence
WEEK 2: Political Ideology, Capitalism and Political Parties
Forms of Governments
What are the four types of democracy?
- Direct: citizens meet, discuss and vote on various policy initiatives. Can be achieved in
- Representative: free competition of candidates/political parties to elect representatives
(most limited version of democracy).
- Plebiscitary: citizens have greater control over elected representatives and collective
decisions via referendums, initiatives and recall elections.
- Deliberative: political decisions based on discussion by free and equal citizens.
What four elements define a democracy?
Democracy means “Rule by the people.”
Power decided by free and fair elections
Rule of Law - applies equally to all, including government officials
Guaranteed rights and freedoms to all citizens (CDN charter)
Civic and political participation of people (ie: voting, voluntary/community organizations)
What is a political ideology?
A political ideology is a package of interrelated ideas and beliefs about government, society, the
economy and human nature that inspire and affect political action.
Most political ideologies also provide a vision of what the world should be like and propose a
means of political action to achieve their objectives.
The development of political ideologies is associated with the European Enlightenment and with
the development of capitalism via the Industrial Revolution.
Politics + Economy +Social Issues
To understand politics and democracy, we must understand our economic system - capitalism.
Political ideologies within a democratic society have everything to do with how much people will
be taxed, how those tax dollars are spent and how much involvement government there will be.
Political ideologies also offers explanations about human nature and important social work
issues such as poverty, unemployment, mental health, crime and violence.
What are the key ideals of capitalism + corresponding critiques?
1) Private ownership of means of production and limited government regulation & involvement.
2) Profit is key (minimal corporate taxes/breaks, outsource jobs, local part-time/seasonal, contract jobs
with limited benefits, deregulate unions).
Privatization of sectors such as social services and making them for profit erodes principles of human
worth, potential and dignity (ie: jails, welfare, daycare). Less accountability.
Minimal taxes = limited social programs, income supports, subsidies (healthcare, education, daycare,
Decent wages less attainable, working poor - unable to afford necessities to be successful
Capitalism is based on inequality. Profit means a large working class - less money, weak union = more
3) Everyone has an equal opportunity as long as you work hard.
4) Strong business = strong economy. Strong economy = trickle down effect (everyone benefits).