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POLS 2300 (129)


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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2300
Nanita Mohan

CH1Introduction to Political Life 1092010 125600 PMAn Introduction to Political Life Politicians range at the lowest rank when picking out what professions should be trusted most statisticallyThey realize as they gain popularity that their goals and public promises cannot always be kept as they wishedIn no established democracy do a majority of people say that they have a great deal of confidence in political partiesWhat Is PoliticsPolitics is the activity by which rival claims are settled by public authoritiesthe boundaries as to what is considered to be political are located where the states authority reachespublic realmPolitics is about the exercise of powerPolitical conflict is largely about where exactly the boundary between public and private should be drawn what should be considered a proper matter for public life and decisions by the state and what should remain private mattersThe state is the only institution that can reasonably claim to speak and act on behalf of the entire community and its unique function is to ensure the conditions for some degree of social orderwithout it there is no peaceful basis for reconciling conflicts in societyPowerthe ability to influence what happens found in all sorts of settings not simply political onesCompliance may result from the threat or use of forcecoercion from the abilityof A to convince B that a particular action is reasonable or otherwise in Bs interestsInfluence OR from the recognition on t part of the compliant party that the person or organization issuing a command has the right to do so and should b obeyedauthorityThe protection of law and order may exact a high cost in terms of personal freedomsOpen society where individuals are free to speak their minds associate with whom they wish and move freely without having to notify or justify Downloaded for free at wwwuofgexamnetworkcom 1 their movements to the public authoritiesbrought to Canadians more thso Americans after September 11 Stategovernmentthe existence of the state is necessary for the existence of politicsState includes the governments as the seat of legitimate authority in a territory but also includes bureaucracy judiciary Armed Forces and internal police etcdistinguishing characteristics of the state is its monopoly over the use of force in a given territoryHas three main characteristics 1 Territorial boundaries states have borders beyond which their legal authority is either nil or strictly limited 2 State consists of a complex set of institutions that wield public authoritythe courts the police and the educational system are outpost of the states authority no less then are the elected legislatures and the bureaucracy 3 The state is defined in terms of powerwhat Weber called its monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its orderfor what purpose and in whose interest this power is exercised are important questionsan adequate explanation of the state must ask on whose behalf and in whose interest the states authority is exercised Contemporary political science offers three main answers to these questions pluralism class analysis feminism PLURALISMthe pluralist model assumes various forms some of which are socially centeredthe society centered variants emphasize the impact of groups in society on the state while state centered variants place greater emphasis on the ability of public officials to act on their own preferences and according to their own interests rather than merely responding to the demands of voters and interest groupspluralist models of the state do not assume that the competition among groups takes place on a level playing field Downloaded for free at wwwuofgexamnetworkcom 2CLASS ANALYSISsees the state in capitalist societies as an instrument through which the small minorities who control most of a societys wealth maintain their social and economic dominancethe control that the dominant class has over the mass media and popular culture and a lack of class consciousness among even the least privileged groups in society that stems from the widespread acceptance of capitalist and individualistic values as normal FEMINISM view the state as an inherently patriarchal institutionmeans the state its structures and its laws all serve to institutionalize male dominanceit is the hierarchal nature of authority embodied in the state that makes it fundamentally patriarchalMarx said that state would wither away once classes were abolished feminists say that if gender discrimination were to be eliminated the state would disappearGovernment a term that is more usefully reserved for those who have been elected to power more personal than the state being associated with a particular group of people and usually with political partiesthe willingness of individuals and groups to obey the decisions of governmentdecisions that they may vigorously disagree withand a government that they may have not voted foris based on their view that the state is legitimateLEGITIMACY the rules and institutions that comprise the state and which determine how governments are chosen are accepted by most people as being reasonablelegitimacy of the state is based on consent of those who are governedDemocracy requires some measure of stability and respect for rules including those rules that determine who has the right to govern and how and when that right endsGovernment is upheld by consent or force but usually bothWorlds greatest democracies USFrance TOTALITARIANISM system of government that suppresses all dissent in the name of some supreme goal Downloaded for free at wwwuofgexamnetworkcom 3
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