POL111 - Ch 1.pdf

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Political Science
Fiona Miller

th POL111- Jan 7 2014 Chapter 1 & 3 - Basic Political Concepts Ch 1 - Political Concepts  Concept vs. Conception o Concept- An idea, term or category ex/ Democracy, the state, power o Conceptions are built on concepts (issues surrounding the term) 1. It’s a broader understanding or interpretation of a concept.  Ex/ democracy as self-government or as majority rule  Politics o Is the activity or process by which groups reach and enforce binding decisions. This affects the collective as a whole. o Three aspects of politics.... 1. Collective activity (within or btw groups)  Ex/ a castaway on a deserted island couldn’t engage in politics 2. Decision- making (matters affecting groups)  To resolve disagreements about what is to be done 3. Decisions are authoritative (Binding and enforcing)  Committing it’s members = impinging on all members o It’s a fundamental activity b/c a group that failed to reach at least some decisions would soon cease to exist.  Other Concepts related to Politics o Power  Latin word ‘potere’ = to be able  Definition: The capacity to bring about intended effects  Often used as a synonym for influence, to denote the impact of one actor on another  The greater our ability to determine out fate, the more power we posses  Three dimensions of power 1. Power should be judged by examining whose views prevail when the actors involved posses conflicting views on what should be done. (More wins indicates more power) 2. Power to keep issues of the agenda 3. Power to shape perceptions, cognitions and preferences (addresses the notion of manipulated consensus) o Authority  Is the right to rule. Authority creates its own power. So long as people accept that the person in authority has the right to make decisions.  Authority implies Power (not necessary vice versa)  Weber distinguished three ways of validating political power 1. By traditions ( the accepted way of doing things) 2. By charisma (intense commitment to the leader to the leader and his message) 3. By appeal to legal-rational norms (based on the rule governed powers of an office, rather than a person) o Legitimacy  Legitimare = declare lawful  Definition: A legitimate system of government is based on authority: those subject to its rule recognize its right to make decisions  Related to authority  Applies to a system of government (to be legitimate or illegitimate)  Applies to a role or position within the system (who has/ or doesn’t have authority)  Applies to more than law or what is legal (public opinion is the test of legitimacy)  Conceptions – Key Contrast o Deliberative process 1. Politics as the pursuit of the group’s common interest or at least seek peaceful reconciliation of different interests.  Aristotle (ideal of what politics should be)  People express nature as reasoning, virtuous beings by participating in a political community o which citizens contribute to the identification and implementation of the community’s goals  Crick (ideal of what politics should be)  An activity whose function is to preserve a community grown too complicated for either tradition alone or rules without the use of coercion o Chooses conciliation rather than violence 2. Politics is a competitive struggle for power and resources between people and groups seeking their own good  Politics = competition that yields winner and losers  Lasswell ( description of what politics actually is)  “who gets what, when how”  Differences in power & conciliation reinforces existing inequalities  Consent= losers o Politics is a competition between groups (ideological + material) o Either for power itself or influence over those who wield it  Government 1. Definition: A government consists of institutions responsible for making collective decisions for society. More narrowly, government refers to the top political level within such institutions 2. General – refers to highest level of political appointment 3. Wider conception- consists of all organization charged with reaching and executing decisions for whole of community. 4. Examined institution of government  Ex/ Thomas Hobbes (poor, nasty, brutish and short)  Government provides us with protection from the harm which otherwise we could inflict on ourselves in our quest for gain & glory  Gives rise to mutually beneficial cooperation 5. Modern terms – The government offers security and predictability  Favoured by economists- is the efficiency to be gained by establishing standard ways of reaching and enforcing decisions  Establishing a government can create dangers and risks b/c it can abuse its own authority = creates more problems 6. High income vs. Low income countries  High income – influences by wider forces  Ex/ Political parties or public opinion  Low income- Government may lack all power and authority  Ex/ dominated by individuals or clans 7. Other Concepts  Political system – Consists of those interactions and organizations, including but not restricted to government, through which a society reaches and successfully enforces collective decisions  Governance – Denotes the activity of making collective decisions, a task in which government institutions may not play a leading, or even any, role. In world politics many issues are resolved by negotiation: governance without government  Ex/ The European Union – relies exclusively on regulation and negotiation to influence its member states  Classifying Government 1. Aristotle’s Classification  Looked for political system that provided a government which is had stability and effectivenes
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