[POL 3] - Midterm Exam Guide - Ultimate 21 pages long Study Guide!

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POL 3
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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JAN 12
Introduction to “Theories”
What are “Theories” and How can they help us in International Relations?
- Prospective hypothesize explanations for events that emphasize different causes; Highlight different factors that we can use to
explain different causes
- Tell us where to look for an explanation
- Emphasize some causes over others
- “Theory” = statements of relationship between causes and effects
- ‘Something happened because of something’
- Simplifies events
- Focus on certain factors, not all
- Ex. Falling ball. Why did it fall? (natural sciences example)
- Prospective 1: role of gravity
- Prospective 2: role of the state of matter
→ Simplified event; Highlighted the role of different factors; Neither one is necessarily wrong, all filled in a piece of the puzzle
- We use theories in the social sciences to explain the difference in the “events” we are trying to describe
- Natural sciences = events involving physical objects
- Social sciences = events involving human behavior
- More difficult bc people don’t always take rational actions; random
- Behaviouralism proposes that individuals alone (and in groups) behave according to certain patterns that we can try to describe,
explain and predict
- Political scientists identify these patterns
- Ex. Are there patterns in when states decide to go to war? Why are institutions set up the way they are?
→ We develop theories to try to address these questions
Key Components of a Theoretical Explanation of an Event
- Dependent Variable (DV) = what we are trying to explain
- Ex. war
- Independent Variable (IV) = what we think caused/explain the dependent variable
- Ex. alliance commitments
- Theory: the story for how the independent variable caused the dependent variable. Explanation for why that relationship exists.
- Ex. alliance commitments increase the likelihood that states will go to war because
- Hypothesis: falsifiable statements questioning a particular relationship among 2+ variables (IV & DV)
- Ex. Do more alliance commitments (IV) lead to more war (DV)?
- Changes in the IV should affect the DV in some way
→ Then we test whether or not this hypothesis holds in the real world (by looking at actual data)
- Different types of data we can use:
- Qualitative: specific cases
- Ex. Peloponnesian Wars analysis by Thucydides
- Quantitative: statistical analysis of a large # of cases; are these factors moving together; is there a
pattern?
- Ex. all wars from 1865 - 1965 (Correlation of War? (COW) dataset)
Ex. 1
- DV: war; IV: # of alliance commitments
- Theory: expect help so one is more likely to be willing; the more allies you have, the more likely you can be drawn in by their issues
- Hypothesis: the more alliances you have, the more likely that you are more likely to go to war
- Data: evidence in WWI & WWII, the alliance history of countries who haven't gone into war that often, compare and contrast the # of
alliances between bigger and smaller countries
Ex. 2
- DV: make concessions; IV: cost of remaining w/o agreement
- Theory: willing to give up more to make agreement happen
- Hypothesis: If you have an embargo, you’re more likely to make concessions (and vice versa); A greater cost increases the chance
that a state would make a concession (ex. Civilian casualties)
- Data: specific countries that did make concessions due to higher costs (ex. Iran); cases that were negotiated by the EU or UN
Ex. 3
- DV: terrorism; IV: food shortages//media portrayal inaccurate
- Theory: hunger makes people desperate which would lead to terrorist activity//inaccurate portrayal aggregates and leads to terrorism
- Hypothesis: food shortage increases → more terrorism//inaccurate rep → more terrorism
- Data: look at a specific place to see if there is more terrorist activity there compared to other places, identify the places with the most
terrorism, trace the largest terrorist groups to food shortages
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3 purposes of theory
- Description. We want to know what happened in the world, and the theory helps explain that
- **Explanation provides reasons for us to understand; because
- Prediction. We think this will happen bc of what we’ve seen before
- Ex. Theory of “quagmire”
- Prediction of the iran war based on the vietnam war
The Main Perspectives of International Relations
- Realism: The struggle for power is the primary cause of what happens in international affairs
- Liberalism/Neoliberal institutionalism (NLI): interdependence and institutions exert the primary influence on world events
- Constructivism: key structures of the international systems are not materially-defined, nor are they fixed
- It is our understanding/what we believe that define how we view the system
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