Introduction to Politics Reading Notes

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

Introduction to Politics- My Reading Notes Politics: The activity or process by which groups reach and enforce binding decisions affecting the collectivity as a whole  The use of public arena to advance private interest  Necessity for it arises from our social nature  Process of making and executing collective decisions but contrasting conceptions can be constructed on this simple definition The interpretation of politics depends on the concepts through which we approach the topic Concept: idea, term, category  Best approached with definitions restricted to their inherent characteristics  Clear, concise, pointed Conception: understandings, perspectives, interpretations of a concept  Broader There is a contrast between those who see politics as pursuit of interest of the whole community and those who view activity as a collision between groups pursuing their own narrow goals  “Sagacious and judicious” or “crafty and scheming” Politics is traced to the ancient Greeks  Aristotle: “man is by nature a political animal” o Meaning politics are unavoidable and highest human activity, separating us from other species  Aristotle’s model constitution: “The ideal citizens rule in the interests of all, not because they are forced to by checks and balances, but because they see it as right to do so” Government: consists of institutions responsible for making collective decisions for society. More narrowly, government refers to the top political level within such institutions. Hobbes’ Case for Government 1) Our ability to inflict harm on others 2) Creates a clash of ambition and fear of attack 3) Without a ruler to keep control, the situation becomes grim 4) Therefore people agree to absolute need to escape life that would be solitary, poor, short, brutish Aristotle’s Classification of Governments Rule By One Few Many Form Genuine Kingship Aristocracy Polity Perverted Tyranny Oligarchy Democracy Three Types of Government 1) Liberal Democracy  Rulers chosen through free, fair, regular elections  Nearly all citizens entitled to vote  Media provides information about campaigns before and during  Liberal part= government subject to constitional limits –individual rights (freedom of religion, speech, assembly ect) 2) Authoritarian  Population lacks any effective means of controlling rulers  Elections may not take place or are artificially restricted  Not everyone can vote or run for office  Advantage/ influence over media  Communication between rulers and ruled low quantity and quality 3) Illiberal Democracy  Many low-income, post-communism, post-military take this form  Combines democratic with authoritarian elements Governance: denotes the activity of making collective decisions, a task in which government institutions may not play a leading (or any) role in. In world politics, many issues are resolved by negotiation (governance without government)  Managing complex societies  Merging of public and private athhority  Popular in final 2 decades of 20 century when western democracies lost confidence in their government’s ability to manage economic production and welfare provision directly  So government turned more into role of regularator, not provider  Governance refers to what governments do and how well they do it  Focus on policies and activities rather than institutions of rule  Aristotle analysed 158 city-states of Ancient Greece seeking combo of stability and effectiveness in government Power: the currency of politics as it enables collective decisions to be made and enforced.  Allows ruler to serve and exploit their subjects  The greater our ability to determine our own fate, the more power we possess  “Power to”- desirable collective resource enabling rulers to implement common interest (goals)  “Power over”- ability to achieve control  A group willing to act together possess more power to achieve goals than a group dominated by suspicion and conflict Authority  Broader concept than power  Acknowledged right t
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