[POLI 12] - Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam (40 pages long!)

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POLI 12
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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World Politics Chapter 2 Notes
Understanding Interests, Interactions and Institutions
Interests: What do actors want from Politics
Interests: what actors want to achieve through political actions
Preferences of actors over the possible outcomes that might result from their
political choices
Fundamental building blocks of any political analysis
Determines how actors rank the desirability of different outcomes, from most to
least preferred
Interests can be many and varied depending on the specific policy or event under
examination
In identifying the interests of the actors, analysts sometimes draw on prior
theories of human nature or behavior; at other times, they rely on the
statements or actions of the actors themselves; and other times they just
assume the interest of the actor
Often group interests into 3 categories: power or security, economic or
material warfare, and ideological goals
Power or security
All political actors are understood to require a degree of
security as a prerequisite to all other goals or, at an extreme
to desire power and the ability to dominate others either as
part of human nature or as essential to survival in a
competitive international environment
Economic or material warfare
Presume to desire a higher standard of living or quality of
life, defined largely in terms of greater income, more
consumable goods, and services, or more leisure time
Not compatible with the first if economic welfare is
thought of as a the long-term goal and security or power as
a means to this end
Ideological goals
May desire moral, religious or other ideological goals,
including democracy, human equality, and dignity, the
glory of a particular god, etc
idea s play a key role in shaping what actor s want or
believe to be good and desirable, including even what it
means to be secure or wealthy
The three sets of general interests roughly the three schools of
realism, liberalism, and constructivism
Actors and Interests
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Actors: basic unit for analysis of international politics; can be individuals or
groups of people with common interests
State: a central authority with the ability to make and enforce laws, rules, and
decisions within a specified territory
Sovereignty: the expectation that states have legal and political supremacy-or
ultimate authority- within their territorial boundaries
In theory state sovereignty often assumed to be a defining feature of the modern
international system, creating a condition of anarchy in which there is no legal
authority higher than or above the state to make and enforce laws that bind
international actors
Anarchy:the absence of a central authority with the ability to make and
enforce laws that bind all actors
Can describe state as actors in two different way
National interest = goals that relate to security (safety from external and
internal threats)
Interests that belong to the state itself
The states-as-actors assumption sees international politics as
driven by states’ guest for security and power
States-as-actors concept serves as convenient shorthand for
sets national leaders acting in the name of their countries
Reflects the fact that many actions in international
politics are taken by individuals who represent the
state: political leaders, diplomats, members of the
armed forces, or others acting in an official capacity
No fixed or permanent set of actors in international relations
Is an analytic concept that is imposed on explanations by observers
seeking to understand why events happen in a certain way
Hard to determine which interests are being pursued with any given policy choice
Actor
Commonly Ascribed Interests
Example
States
Security, power, wealth,
ideology
United States, Canada, China,
Switzerland
Politicians
Reelection/retention of office,
Presidents of USA, Prime
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Document Summary

Interests: what actors want to achieve through political actions. Preferences of actors over the possible outcomes that might result from their political choices. Fundamental building blocks of any political analysis. Determines how actors rank the desirability of different outcomes, from most to least preferred. Interests can be many and varied depending on the specific policy or event under examination. Often group interests into 3 categories: power or security, economic or material warfare, and ideological goals. Presume to desire a higher standard of living or quality of life, defined largely in terms of greater income, more consumable goods, and services, or more leisure time. Not compatible with the first if economic welfare is thought of as a the long-term goal and security or power as a means to this end. The three sets of general interests roughly the three schools of realism, liberalism, and constructivism.

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