POLB91H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Area Studies, Fidel Castro, Clientelism
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Short Answer Questions –
What are the 2 main types of power arrangement that characterize state?
The 2 main types of power that characterize state are Despotic power and infrastructure power.
Despotic power, which occurs mostly in the south, is the power to control and suppress. It is the legacy of the
use of force to suppress and squash rebellion. Control is usually under one ruling power and decisions are
made without civil society input. This type of power is rooted from colonial times. It was the state borders
that were artificially imposed by colonial rulers. The legacy of rule was extractive not developmental. There
was strong despotic power and coercive power but weak infrastructure or transformable power so any
challenges to power were put down by force. Characteristics of colonial state were entrenched by elites after
independence to protect their interests whereas the civil society had little human and economic rights. There
would be pockets of development, take Chile for instance; if you go outside the city, all you see is the
poverty. Other countries that have been following this type of power are Tunisia, Korea and Egypt. Tunisia
has had an autocratic leader for 20 years. In North Korea and Egypt, people in these regimes had their civil
liberties suppressed and had little economic freedom.
Infrastructural powers on the other hand, is the capacity of the state to penetrate civil society and to use this
penetration to enforce policy throughout its entire territory, this type of power is usually found in the global
north in countries such as Canada and the United States. States gain infrastructural by providing centrally-
organized services that are carried out through a division of labor, distributing authority to improve the
efficiency of the infrastructure, ensuring the literacy of the population, which provides a means of setting
state laws and allows for a collective awareness of state power, and producing a system of weights and
measures and a currency to facilitate the exchange of goods. The state must also be able to guarantee that
goods ultimately have value, and providing an effective and rapid system of communication and
The difference between despotic and infrastructural power is that despotic power is power over society,
while infrastructural power is power through society. States do not utilize only infrastructural or only despotic
power. The two types of power coexist within a state despotic states also rely on infrastructural power as
they attempt to control their entire bounded territory,
For instance, the goal of an authoritarian state is to combine despotic and infrastructural power in a way
that allows it the maximum influence over social life. A state whose power is primarily
infrastructural can provide services throughout its entire territorial space, which decreases its
likelihood of becoming a weak or failed state. Conversely, a weak or collapsed state has little chance of
providing the type of infrastructure needed to ensure infrastructural power. In such cases, a state may rely
on despotic power or the power of elites over society, to gain control.
How do power structures impact countries development outcomes?
South vs. North
Power structures play a huge role in the development outcome of a country. For instance in the South
where despotic power is used, it is power over society so they use force, have weak infrastructure and lack of
stability and human and economic rights. The is usually one ruling power who suppress rebellions and take
away freedom. On the other hand, infrastructural power, used in the north, is through society . This type of
power provides services throughout the state and decreases its chances of becoming a weak or failed state.
The state penetrates civil society and use penetration to enforce policy throughout its entire territory. They
provide centrally organised services that care carried out through a division of labour, distributing authority
to improve efficiency of infrastructure, ensuring the literacy of the population, which provides a means of
setting state laws and allows for a collective awareness of state power, and producing a system of weights
and measures and a currency to facilitate the exchange of goods.
Why are states of global south characterized by despotic power?
a. Strong despotic power but weak infrastructure – use force, suppress civil society and
rebellion ; protects interests of the ruling elites
b. Purpose of colonial was extractive not developmental – not able to develop the country
side because the government had weak outreach. Most of these areas are run by local
c. Borders and infrastructure were artificially implemented – colonial structure
d. Characteristic of states were entrenched in ruling elites – civil society is mostly powerless.
e. Examples of states that are characterized bye despotic power include Tunisia which was
ruled by autocratic leader for 20 years, North Korea, and Egypt which were both ruled by
dictators for over 30 years. During this autocratic rule the people of these nations had most
of their civil liberties suppressed and had very little economic freedom.
What is clientalism? How does it impact upon development outcomes?
Clientelism is the dispensing of public resources by political power holders and seekers who offer
them as favors in exchange for votes or other forms of public support also known as Patron client networks.
Clientelism can be also based on kinship, patronage, and material or immaterial inducements/attachments.
Clientelism is important because it leads to corruption, preferential treatment, inequality, and reinforces
status quo. Clientelism undermines authentic development, it is development by accident not by design, it
divides community members because they are fighting with elites for these scarce resources. An example of
clientalism is in the Philippines where votes are bought by leading political parties and Led to instability in
What is the relation between state and interest group under the three systems of interest group
The relation between state and interest groups is corporatism, which is a system in which
interest groups become an industrialized part of the political structure. All countries have interest group
systems; they are trying to influence government to work in their interest. Interest groups vary across
governments. The 3 systems of interest group representation are Pluralism, Societal Corporatism and Social
1.) Pluralism: a system in which interest groups organize and compete freely in which policy outcomes are
the result of groups competing pressures. Multiple groups may represent a single societal interest.
Membership is non-compulsory. Groups often have a loose organization structure and there is a clear
separation between interest groups.
2.) Societal Corporation: Is a system in which all interests are organized according to an officially
sanctioned group and the government actively involves these groups in policy making. A single peak
association normally represents each societal interest. In terms of membership, peak associations are often
compulsory and these associations centrally organize and direct the actions of their members.
Members and interest groups are actively involved in the policy making process.
3.) State Corporatism: Is a system in which states use interest group structures to control and dominate
citizen groups and the interests they are allowed to value. The corporate group is typically comprised by
political-economic power elites, in other countries; ethnic group typically comprises the corporate group. For
example, the US also has a long history of narrow economic interests and interest groups such as lobby
groups for large powerful companies controlling the decision-making process in America. American
corporatism is evidenced in the close ties between members of the Bush Administration and many large
corporations, such as Halliburton.
When the political and economic power of a country rests in the hands of such groups, then a corporatist
system is in place. It is a kind of despotic power, where the state is the dominant actor, and interest groups
are only consulted to gain compliance to make the state look democratic, which appears to legitimize the
state. It is also a form so social control that aims to exclude the marginalized from meaningful political
participation and sharing in the benefits of economic development. So the interest groups are brought in the
group of decision-making but not are involved, they are just there compliantly and just to make sure they
don’t riot. It’s basically a form of social control.
Is the field of area studies still relevant for politics and development studies? Why or
Area studies is the detailed examination of politics within a specific geographical setting such as studying
Latin or North American politics, it does not involve explicit comparisons, encompassing humanities and
social sciences. Area studies lets you have a keen eye for individual countries but at the same time have the
ability to generalize and understand underlying similarities within several countries. It lets you relate
quantitative and qualitative, mid-level theories that have explanatory values when comparing countries
The concept of area studies has 3 distinctive connotations among scholars: First it is sometimes used to
refer to a detailed description of a nation or region that doesn’t seek to generalize beyond the specific case.
Second the term can refer to studies that build on a deep contextual knowledge of a specific society or region
to develop understandings that are more general. And third the term can mean interdisciplinary teaching or
research by scholars working in a particular region or the world.
Area studies are important because most scholars still rely on area specific info if they want to
find/produce good data/analysis/generalizations. Since area studies focuses on enhancing interdisciplinary
exchange among scholars, there is more room for alternative ways of teaching, research, and intellectual
exchange. There are many people who question the relevancy of area studies in political science and
development studies arguing that it is too narrow and expensive to conduct research.
According to Hall and Tarrow’s work – they were interpretivists who emphasize indebt analysis of politics
within a few cases, paying attention to specific country contexts. They are part of a qualitative school and
they disagree with cutting area studies funding. Area studies build deep contextual knowledge of a specific
society or region to develop understanding that are more general – influential work in social sciences comes
from interdisciplinary exchange that area centers facilitate. Scholars rely on area specific info if they want to
find accurate data/ analysis.
Area studies are also criticized as too narrow focused and expansive; The world is grow interdependently,
international forces are key to understanding domestic outcomes. Theory production is the goal – global
processes are a better indicator. Losing area studies will undermine American knowledge of other nations by
diminishing attention to cultural, historical, political context trends in particular regions. Area studies
compares regions, not just nations. Cross regional comparisons are expensive and inaccurate. Area studies
allow deep contextual knowledge – eg. Learning the native language enhances meanings and understandings
The 2 main types of power that characterize state are despotic power and infrastructure power. Despotic power, which occurs mostly in the south, is the power to control and suppress. It is the legacy of the use of force to suppress and squash rebellion. Control is usually under one ruling power and decisions are made without civil society input. This type of power is rooted from colonial times. It was the state borders that were artificially imposed by colonial rulers. The legacy of rule was extractive not developmental. There was strong despotic power and coercive power but weak infrastructure or transformable power so any challenges to power were put down by force. Characteristics of colonial state were entrenched by elites after independence to protect their interests whereas the civil society had little human and economic rights. There would be pockets of development, take chile for instance; if you go outside the city, all you see is the poverty.