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POSC 1000U Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Mixed Model, Complete Control, Westminster System

Course Code
POSC 1000U
Rob Halpin
Study Guide

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Political Science Midterm Review 02.23.16
Midterm Review
Lecture 1: Studying Politics
Basic Concepts of Politics
One of many definitions of Politics
The process by which a community selects rulers and empowers them to make decisions,
take action to attain common goals, and reconciles conflict within the community
Politics has always been defined as the “Art of the Possible”
Three components of power
Legitimate Authority
Often associated with the rule of law
Is linked to conservative values such as stability, obedience and respect for legitimate
Levels in Which Order Exists
Social contract
The distribution of rewards and burdens in society in accordance with what is deserved,
i.e., fairness
Political literacy
The ability to think and speak intelligently about politics
What is Politics?
Politics is part of the social sciences
oSocial sciences: scientific study of human society and social relationships
Not a “trade,” but a discipline
It teaches analytical thought, critical analysis, description, argumentation, and importance
of balanced research
The Necessity of Politics
English philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously wrote that it would be ‘solitary, poor,
nasty, brutish, and short’
Socialization makes us secure

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Political Science Midterm Review 02.23.16
oSocialization: process whereby individuals act in a social manner; creation of
social and political authority and rules to regulate behaviour so as to permit
operation of social units.
Questions of Politics
What do governments do?
oRights and responsibilities
What do citizens want?
oRights and responsibilities
The Purpose of Politics
Politics helps us organize ourselves
Politics allows for distribution of benefits and wealth, and public goods
oPublic goods: resources that are present in a political system where use by one
individual should not affect use by others
Decision-making leads to rules and direction for political communities
oDecision-making: mechanism or pattern of relations involving different levels of
government where determinations and judgements regarding the governance of
political system are made (sometimes referred to as the “black box”)
Types of Political Systems
We will return to liberal democracies and authoritarian systems later
We can see the large differences between the systems
Authoritarianism? Public has little say in decision-making—and ultimately the direction
—of their political system
Liberal democracy? Governments are more responsive to citizens’ needs
Approaches to Politics
Aristotle said humans possess “logos” which means we reason, and we communicate
Justice in society is our goal
oInjustice often exists instead
Analytical Approach
Analytical approach: perspective that views politics as an empirical discipline, rather than
a science; argues that politics cannot be broken down into parts but must be seen
oAlso called the “traditional approach”
Oldest approach in politics
Sees politics as a comprehensive study, based on empiricism

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Political Science Midterm Review 02.23.16
Empiricism: Analysis based not on concepts and theory, but on what can be observed or
experimented upon
What can be observed can also be used in scientific approach, so empiricism is the basis
of all approaches
o“What we observe”
Scientific Method
Using variables, theories, axioms, and hypotheses in research
Rigour, where accuracy is sought through consistency, testing, and use of accepted
principles, laws and approaches
Focus on the tangible, rather than values
oHumans and human behaviour
Behaviouralism: perspective that concentrates on the “tangible” aspects of political life,
rather than values; objective was to establish a discipline that was “scientific” and
Understood that values cannot be ignored
Post-behaviouralism brought values back in
oPost-behaviouralism: approach that attempted to reconcile the problems
encountered by behaviouralism by allowing for values and ideology in its analysis
The human is the focus of attention, so human sentiment and views cannot be removed
Systems Theory
Structures and people exist in a system of politics
Systems theory: approach that views politics as a system of interactions, binding political
structures such as government to individual action; argues that politics is a dynamic
process of information flows and responses that encompasses political institutions,
groups, and individuals
Comparative Approach
Comparative approach: method of political analysis that compares different systems of
political authority, based on system type, time period, or form of leadership
How to Study Politics
For What Purposes?
oAttempt to answer “should” and “ought” questions
By What Methods?
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