Chapter 1: Tradition, Discipline, and Definition
The Tradition of Political Science
The development of our political institutions, the systems of political
thought, and the questions underlying the political enquiry are routed deeply
in the Greek, Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions.
Greeks introduced us to the notion of democracy
Development of democracy in Athens acted as a model and inspiration for
succeeding generations to present.
Plato and Aristotles writing laid the foundations of political enquiry
Concept of citizenship and rights is associated with Romans
John Locke introduced notions of limited government, individual rights, and
American Revolution (1776) and French Revolution (1789) were premised
on the principles of individual rights of life, liberty, and equality.
Since the cold war, democracy has emerged as by far the most acceptable
form of government
The Discipline of Political Science
Largely based on explanation and understanding of legal and institutional
aspects of government, such as the Constitution.
Role of interest groups content of political authority, legitimacy, individual
and collective behaviour, electoral politics, political culture
Political science is now generally understood to be the study of the
governmental processes- the dynamics and institutions of public governance.
Authoritative allocation of values: who gets what, when, and how.
CONFLICT AND POWER
Conflict emerges in society for two reasons:
1. Competition for scarce resources (oil, gold)
2. Competition for different goals and values. (Spending on health,
defense, and education)
Power Enables the government to make binding decisions to allocate scarce
3 Variants of Power:
1. Influence: government use influence to persuade citizens to do
2. Coercion: Uses force to make citizens comply
3. Authority: is vested in individuals by virtue of their office
i. Traditional- (Church, Monarchy) Structure is derived from a
respect for sanctity of tradition
ii. Charismatic- (Hitler, Napoleon, Kennedy, Ghandi) based on the
extraordinary qualities and mission of the charismatic leader iii. Legal- (Liberal) based on legal principles, and it is a rule of law
that legitimizes authority.
Citizens cannot easily opt in or out of the membership of a state.
Para-political organizations- CIA, MI6
Sub-Fields of Political Science
1. Political Theory: Field encompasses both normative political philosophy and
empirical oriented theory.
What is a good citizen? Best form.
Marx, Weber (late modern thought)
Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau (enlightenment)
Christian thinkers (medieval)
Classical (Greeks and Romans)
Contemporary political theory (racism, multiculturalism, gender,
Non-Western political thought- Islamic philosophy, eastern traditions
Look at politics from a normative perspective (how things should be
or ought to be)
Equality vs. Liberty
2. Comparative Politics: Domestic parties/politics of countries
Studies different political systems in the world comparing different
forms of government and functioning in order to develop an
understanding of some of the worlds diverse political structures and
More imperial- opposite of theoretical- experience by observation
Political culture, ideologies, institutions (democracy, constitutions,
electoral systems, interest groups)
3. International Politics:
Studies relations between different states and their foreign policy
Foreign policy, war and peace, strategic and security studies,
international organizations, globalization
Liberalism, neo-liberalism, realism, neo-realism, constructivism,
Human rights, environment, international/political economy,
4. Canadian or Domestic Politics
Local to national politics, nature of intergovernmental relations
Linked to Comparative politics
Federalism 5. Public Policy and Public Administration
How does it work?
Addresses issues such as: What governments do or dont do.
What processes undertake these government actions and decisions
and what consequences can be attributed.
Modern day state is a compulsory association, which organizes domination
Monopolize the legitimate use of physical force as means of domination
within a territory
Every state is founded on force.
State is a human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use
of physical force within a given territory
The sole source of the right to use violence.
Politics for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the
distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.
He who is active in politics strives for power either as means of serving other
aims, ideal or egoistic, or as power for powers sake
Or to enjoy the prestige feeling that power gives.
All over the world are men aspiring to power and there are actual rules who,
however many different names they go by, have in common a rejection of
Fidel Castro told a reporter in 1961: We are not politicians. We made our
revolution to get the politicians out.
Politics ill understood, have been defined as the art of governing mankind by
Politics arises from accepting the fact of the simultaneous existence of
different groups, hence different interest and different traditions, within a
territorial unit under a common rule. Chapter 2: Contending Approaches
Different approaches, different assumptions, focuses, concepts, and
Formal legal Approach
Also called old institutionalism
Centred on the formal institutions of politics: constitutions, parliaments,
cabinets, bureaucracies and so on.
Described workings of the state through exploration of the structure of these
institutions and their relationships with one another.
Sought to explain politics by specifying how political institutions worked.
Descriptive rather than explanatory, why do they work?
Non-theoretical, didnt look to formulate generalizations.
Led to the description of particular case studies and was therefore non-
Parochial, looked almost exclusively at Western developed countries as
oppose to non-Western and developing ones.
Led to another approach,
Objective: to make study of politics truly scientific
Emphasized individual actors, their behaviours, rather than institutions.
Led to 2 formulation of two approaches during 1960s;
More scientific, viewing politics as a system.
AKA Systems Theory
Focused on political actors rather than on institutions
Provided a theoretical model of politics, a simplified representation of
political life that specified its logic and its workings.
System analysis was presented as being valid for understanding politics in
any country at almost any given time
System involves the interrelation of individual components.
EASTON: Political system is constitutes by interactions that lead to the
authoritative allocation of values. Values are material (financial, and other)
as well as symbolic (prestige, recognition, etc.).