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Department
Political Science
Course
POLI 244
Professor
Jason Scott Ferrell
Semester
Fall

Description
What is (World Politics XIX-XXX) 9/11/2012 5:30:00 AM What is World Politics and Why Do We Study It?  Begins with description of the Arab-Israeli conflict o First skirmishes in 1921 due to influx of Jews in Palestine o Ceasefire negotiated by rabbi Ben Zion Uziel o Fighting renewed 8 years later o 1948 state of Israel was created on that land and has seen conflict with neighbouring Arab states and the now stateless Palestinian people.  This anecdote illustrates what we study when we study world politics. World politics—also called international relations—seeks to understand how peoples and countries of the world get along.  Understanding the varied landscape of conflict and cooperation is the task of those who study world politics. Eleven Puzzles in Search of Explanations  This text is organized around the most compelling and pressing puzzles in the study of world politics. Puzzles are observations about the world that demand an explanation. o Example: War. Given the enormous human and material costs that wars impose on the countries that fight them, one might wonder why countries do not settle their conflicts in other, more reasonable ways. o Difficulty of international cooperation to end genocides or to protect the environment.  Puzzles of variation: o Disparity of wealth, schooling, health  11 variations: o Given the human and material costs of military conflict, why do countries sometimes wage war rather than resolving their disputes through negotiations? (Chapter 3) o What if there are actors within a country who see war as beneficial and who expect to pay few or none of its costs? Do countries fight wars to satisfy influential domestic interests? (Chapter 4) o Why is it so hard for the international community to prevent and punish acts of aggression among and within states? (Chapter 5) o Why are trade barriers so common despite the universal advice of economists? Why do trade policies vary so widely? (Chapter 6) o Why is international finance so controversial? Why are international financial institutions like the IMF so strong? (Chapter 7) o Why do countries pursue different currency policies, from dollarizing or joining the euro, to letting their currency’s value float freely? (Chapter 8) o Why are some countries rich and some countries poor? (Chapter 9) o How could relatively small transnational groups, from advocacy groups like Amnesty International to terrorist networks like Al Qaeda, bring about policy change within and among countries? (Chapter 10) o Given that nearly everyone wants a cleaner and healthier environment, why is it so hard to cooperate internationally to protect the environment? (Chapter 11) o Why do countries sometimes try to protect the human rights of people outside their borders? In light of widespread support for the principle of human rights, why has the movement to protect those rights not been more successful? (Chapter 12) o Why are some periods marked by extensive global conflict while others experience robust efforts at cooperation? Which of these patterns will hold in the future? (Chapter 13)  Each chapter will show how one can build theories out of these puzzles. A theory is a logically consistent set of statements that explains a phenomenon of interest.  Theories also help us to describe, predict and prescribe o Describe by indentifying which factors are important and which are not. o Predict by offering a sense of how the world works, how a change in one factor will lead to changes in behaviour and outcomes. o Prescribe policy responses by identifying what has to be changed in order to foster better outcomes.  Given that theories are simplified explanations of important factors in highly complex phenomena, we aspire for probabilistic claims, that is, arguments about the factors that increase or decrease the likelihood that some outcome will occur. The Framework 9/11/2012 5:30:00 AM The Framework: Interests, Interactions, and Institutions  No single theory adequately answers all of the puzzles previously laid out. Instead, a framework—way of thinking about world politics that will be useful in building theories—is used.  Three core concepts: interests, interactions and institutions. o Interests: What actors want to achieve through political action; their preference over the outcomes that might result from political choices o Interactions: The ways in which the choices of two or more actors combine to produce political outcomes o Institutions: A set of rules known and shared by the community, that structure political interaction in particular ways.  How to apply: Think about the relevant political actors. What interests they have. Think about the choices or strategies available to each actor and how those choices interact to produce outcomes and how the strategic interaction influences what he might actually do. Then think about what institutions, if any, might exist to govern their behaviour.  A theory emerges when we identify the specific interests, interactions, and institutions that work together to account for the events or pattern of events we hope to explain.  We focus on two broad types of interactions that arise, to one degree or another in all aspects of politics: bargaining and cooperation.  Bargaining: describes situations in which two or more actors try to divide something that both want.  Cooperation occurs when actors have common interests and need to act in a coordinated way to achieve those interests. Levels of Analysis 9/11/2012 5:30:00 AM Levels of Analysis  Three interconnected levels that are, by norm, equally weighed o International Level, the representatives of states with different interests interact with one another, sometimes in the context of international institutions such as the UN or WTO o Domestic Level, subnational actors with different interests— politicians, bureaucrats, business and labor groups, voters— interact within domestic institutions to determine the country’s foreign policy choices o Transnational level, groups whose members span borders, multinational corporations, transnational advocacy networks, terrorist organizations—pursue interests by trying to influence both domestic and international politics. Integrating Insights 9/11/2012 5:30:00 AM Integrating Insights from Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism The previously mentioned flexible framework of world politics based on interests, interactions and institutions is a departure from the way that world politics is often organized. Many courses emphasize the contrast between three schools of thought:  Realism
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