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Chapter 2

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2246E
Ross Gibbons

Chapter 2 Public Administration and DemocracyPower Politics and Public AdministrationPolitics is fundamentally about powerThere will virtually always be conflict or cooperation simply because there will never be enough goods for all those who want them all the timeTherefore some means must be devised to cooperative divide goods to prevent conflict from degenerating into violenceSomeone must be designatedor must designate him or herself the arbiter over the division of the goods and have authority to excrete power and make decisions on behalf of the members of societyPublic admin in turn is the mechanism by which political decision making takes placePower is typically defined as the ability to authorize influence or coerce behaviourSomeone has power over you because they can direct or instruct you to do something by virtue of his or her 1 Legal position of authority 2 Status of positions or 3 Use of forceMax Weber suggested that authority was derived from one of three sources o The first is traditional legitimacy wherein rule is justified on the basis of long estabilished custom or habit o The second is charismatic legitimacy a leader is believed to be vested with exceptional personal qualities that make him or her uniquely suited to lead o Third legalrational legitimacy in which a set of rationally created rules and legal statues serve as the basis of power and sanctioned authorityIncreasingly modern stated have moved to systems of legalrational legitimacy although there are many examples of the other two systemsIn modern states the rise of mass literacy was accompanied by the rise of public opinion which increasingly could intelligently ask the question who ought to ruleThis also illustrates the diminishing role in many societies of religion which often served as the rationale for charismatic and some traditional systems of legitimacyA legalrational system makes clear how will they rule o Under a legal rational system there are features of accountability and the rule of law which is the principle that no one not even a lawmaker is above the lawLarry Johnston suggested we cannot opt out of politicsThe most basic fact about politics is that it arises out of scarcity there are not enough resources for all people to satisfy all of their basic wants and needs all the timePolitics then is about more than just conflict it is also about how rival claims are settled through the resolution of conflictCooperation conflict and competitionAt the core of every definition of politics are notions about the exercise of powerDavid Easton politics is the authoritative allocation of values o Authoritative refers to the idea that there must be a legitimate authority who can make decisions on behalf of society o Decisions about what values will prevail Harold Laswell Politics is about who gets what when and howVadimir Lenin politics was who does what to whomMao Zedong politics is a bloodless warOtto von Bismark politics is the doctrine of the possible the attainable Karl Marx political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing anotherThere are two things about politics that distinguish it from other forms of conflict resolution and cooperation1 The nature of the issue is public not private 2 We use public authority to settle them The issue of establishing which relations within society count as political and which are private is often contentious o It was not until the twentieth century for example that relations between men and women were deemed politicalo Where public administration is concerned the very structure of bureaucracy have contributed to the oppression of women by men according to feminists scholar Camilla StiversOnly by clarifying the line between public and private can our democratic rights and responsibilities be discernedOnly public authorities the state have the legitimate right to back up decisions with the full power of society as the only entity that can claim to speak and act on behalf of the entire communityWhat is democracyPolitical scientists call it a contested concept meaning that there is not always agreement on what the term means Comes from the two Greek roots demos the people and kratos authority In ancient Greek culture democracy meant government by the many In some Greek citystates all citizens participated in making laws In direct democracies citizens exercise authority and power personally o Most peoples conception of a pure democracyo The Athenians believed that elections could be manipulated by wealthy individuals o Some mechanisms in Canada that approximate the direct democracy model Referenda in which citizens directly express their approval or disapproval of a particular issue via a sample votey 19801995 Quebecois y BC PEI and Ontario on reforming our electoral processo Plebiscite the results are not binding though o Shades of direct democracy can also be see in extending the election of governmental officials to include not just politicians but also judges and other administrative officials
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