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POLS 2910 - Mid-Term Study Notes.docx

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Political Science
POLS 2910
Gabrielle Slowey

POLS 2910 MidTerm Study NotesCourse Introduction And OverviewFocusInstitutions and democracyRepresentationPublic PolicyThemes 1 Power 2 Democracy 3 IdentityI am Canadian What does that even mean Politics often brings out the worst in human natureThe Political SystemPolitical science often lumps needs together with interestsPrivate sectors are those parts of society and the economy that function separately from government Public sector A demand is the expression of opinion that some government action be takenWhether people should solve their own problems or whether they should as the government or the state to interveneWhich areas of life the state should regulate and how much regulation is appropriateGovernment is the set of institutions that make and enforce collective public decisions for a societyPower is the ability of one actor to impose its will on another to get its own way to do or get what it wantsCoercion is the government having the ability to impose its will on us by means of sanctions or penaltiesFour branches of governmentThe legislatureThe executiveThe bureaucracyThe judiciaryAuthoritative decisions take many formsLaws regulations appointments grants contracts services and judgmentsCan collectively be referred to as the outputs of the political systemDistinguish between demands and issuesVast quantity of demands Politics is said to originate in conflictOften defined as the struggle for power and the management of conflictOther input in the political system other than demands is the concept of supportSupport is a more passive concept than demandsUsually exists in the realm of feelings and orientations rather than in actionSupport is mostly demonstrable in terms of such feelings as trust efficacy pride and patriotism Canadian Political Culture and Theory TermsDemocracyPolitical TheoryProvides a framework for a way of understanding an event or a series of events A cause and effect relationshipExchange of ideasTheory is connected with the enlightenment projectApproaches to the Study of PoliticsIdentities rather than cleavagesThe model of the political system does not exhaust the possible analytical approaches that can be applied to Canadian politics These approaches can be divided between those that are society centered and those that focus on the autonomy of the government and the statePublic Choice or Rational ApproachRationally explain how Canadian politics operates1970sNeoclassical economic theorySelfinterested individuals maximizing their interests in societyAll about politicians getting reelectedIt was a much tougher time in 1970sFocus on politicians at center Make promises in exchange for votesBegins with the assumption that Canada is a democracyRational self interested voters support the party whose policies are of greatest utility to themselves and that politicians seeking reelection adopt policies that will most likely keep them in powerEmphasizes bargaining between politicians and voters and takes its inspiration from the economic systemPolitics is a bargaining processAct in a rational selfinterested utilitymaximizing fashion politicians make promises in return for votesPoliticians 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 votesSince it is a waste of effort to appeal to committed supporters or opponents politicians concentrate on marginal undecided or strategically located votersPoliticians 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 A similar rational self serving bargaining process also goes on at other points in the political systemCan be seen in Canada in the relationship between politicians and voters in the formulation of election platforms and in the citizens decision of how to vote Confirmed on a daily basis when it emphasizes the ways in which the authorities portray their performance in the most favourable light such as in timing packaging exaggerating benefits and downplaying costsPluralismGroup interests are crucial in understanding how policy is formed and decisions are made Important in shaping academicsDeveloped by American political scientistEmerged out of the cold warBelieved it was defending the cause of freedomMarket capitalism and liberal democracyExtend democracy to other countries Political elites have to respond to pressuresHow different groups come together Analytical framework closest to the democratic idealOpen systemAssumes competing interests are equaluntrueIgnores difference in resourcesPower is widely dispersed among many interests in society rather than tightly controlled by one or more groups or elites and that the political system is characterized by much openness or slackGroup action is more common and more effective than individual political activity and it puts particular stress on the role of pressure or advocacy groups in both the making and the execution of public policyPower widely dispersedNot monopolized by any state or corporate eliteIndividuals are free to employ a variety of resources at their disposal and to organize whatever groups they want in order to back their demands to the authorities
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