Political Science 103- Chapter 1 NOTES
Political Science 103- Chapter 1 NOTES 13309 - PLS 103 - 02
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Political Science 103 January 19, 2016 Notes on Chapter 1: Political Concepts *** All notes are directly from the book of Political Science by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop*** *** None of the writing is my work, it is an outline of the notable information from the book*** • Concept: A term, idea, or category • Conception : A broader understanding or interpretation of a concept Politics: • Politic: The activity or process by which groups reach and enforce binding decisions o A collective group activity that occurs within and between groups o Involves making decisions on matters affecting the group, typically to resolve disagreements about what is being done o After a decision is made, it becomes binding on the group and is enforced • Power is a central element to politics and can two views can be distinguished: o A deliberative process through which a community resolves common problems o A competition for power and influence • Politics are necessary because we live in groups that must reach collective decisions about using resources, about relating to others, and planning for the future • Politics is a fundamental activity because a group which fails to reach certain decisions would cease to exist • David Easton’s famous definition of a political system: o “A political system can be designated as the interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society; that is what distinguishes a political system from other systems lying in its environment” • As a concept, politics can be defined as the process of making and executing collective decisions; on a broader level idealistically it can be viewed as the search for decisions which either pursue the group’s common interest or at least seek peaceful reconciliation of the varying interest within any group • The interpretation of policies as a community serving activity can be traced to the ancient Greeks o Aristotle argued that ‘man is by nature a political animal’ meaning it is unavoidable and is the highest human activity, the feature that separates us from other species § “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” o Bernard Crick says, “Politics, then, can be defined as the activity by which different interests within a given unit of rule are conciliated by giving them a share in the power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and the survival of the whole community.” § He views politics as neither a set of fixed principles steering government, nor a set of traditions to be preserved. Instead sees it as an activity whose function is ‘to preserve a community grown too complicated for either tradition alone or pure arbitrary rule to preserve it without the undue use of coercion’ o The issue with both of these views is that it is idealistic on what politics should be, not what it actually is • Harold Lasswell’s defined politics as ‘who gets what, when, how’ o Viewed as having winners and losers Government, Political System, and Governance : • In small groups, those who make the decisions also carry it out themselves. This is not the case for larger units • Government : Consists of institutions responsible for making collective decisions for society, mainly referring to the top political level within such institutions • In popular use, the government refers just to the highest level of political appointments: to presidents, prime ministers, and others at the apex of power o In a wider conception, government consists of all organization charged with reaching and executing decisions for the whole community § Ie: the police, armed forces, public servants, and judges § Government is in a broader sense the entire terrain of institutions endowed with public authority • Thomas Hobbes believed that government provides us with protection from the harm that we would otherwise inflict on each other in our quest for gain and glory o In modern terms, a government offers security and predictability to those subject to it o In well governed societies, citizens and firms can plan for the long term due to laws are stable and consistently applied o The risk of Hobbes’s commonwealth is that it will abuse its own authority, creating more issues than it solves o A key aim in studying politics must therefor be to discover how to secure the undoubted benefits of government, while also limiting its dangers • In high-income countries, government is influenced by wider forces, such as interest groups, political parties, and public opinion • In some low-income countries, the government may lack all autonomy, effectively becoming the property of a dominant individual or clan • 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 the government • The notion of governance rose to prominence in discussion of the European Union, which relies almost exclusively on regulations and negotiation to influence its member states • The European Union lacks many attributes of a state, such as an army, and can’t be easily understood as a government Comparative Politics: • Why compare? 1. Learning about other governments broadens our understanding, casting fresh light on our home nation 2. Permits us to classify political structures and processes 3. Enables us to test hypotheses about politics 4. Gives us some potential for prediction and control Broadening Understanding • Learning more about the places we know little to nothing about helps us when interpreting oversea events, which is important because the world is becoming more interdependent • Also assists with practical political relationships, making communication easier and more effective Enabling Classification • Gives us the ability to classify government structures and political processes o Ie: if a country is democratic or non-democratic, if a government is a presidential or parliamentary system Testing Hypotheses • Hypothesis: A relationship positioned between two or ore factors or variables • Confirmed hypotheses are valuable not just for their own sake, but because they are essential for explaining the particular Potential for Prediction • Generalizations, once validated, have the possibility to be able to help us predict • Not always a guarantee for accuracy, not all variables are the exact same from country to country in regards to a certain situation Classifying Governments • The most influential historical classification of government was created by Aristotle based on the 158 city-states of Ancient Greece with the outcome of six different types of government. It is simplistic in the sense that it only has two contributing factors: o The number of people within a government § One, few, or many o The interest of the ruling party § Common interest (‘the genuine form’) or their own personal interest (‘the perverted form’) • Modern classifications of government now are still influenced off of Aristotle’s work • Liberal Democracy : Representative and limited government operating through law provides accepted framework for political competition. Regular elections based on near universal suffrage are free and fair. Individual rights, including freedom of expression and association, are respected o Ie: Affluent Western countries such as Australia, Canada, France, and Germany • Competitive Authoritarian : Leaders are elected with no or minimal falsification of the count. However, the rulers exploit their position to prevent a level playing field. To keep potential opponents off balance, rulers interfere with the rule of law, the media, and the market. Individual rights are poorly entrenched and the judiciary is weak. o Ie: Many post-military states in Africa and Latin America • Authoritarian regime : Rulers stand above the law and are free from effective popular accountability. The media are not controlled or cowed. Political participation is limited and discouraged. However, the rulers’ power is often constrained by the need for tacit alliances with other power holders such as landowners, the military, and religious leaders § Ie: Military governments, ruling monarchies, and personal dictators o In totalitarian states of the 20 century, participation was compulsory but controlled as the government sought total control of society, justified by an ideology seeking to transform both society and human nature. These regimes placed heavy reliance on party members, the secret police, and other informers as agents of social control. They are often treated as a separate category from authoritarian regimes § Ie: Communist and fascist regimes • Legitimacy: When a system of governments has the authority to govern and is recognized by those being governed The State, Sovereignty, and Citizenship • State: A political community formed by a territorial population subject to one government o Is a dominant principle of political organization in the world o There are exceptions such as territories still under colonial control, voluntarily subject to partial external authority, or granted autonomy within a larger state • The state is a unique institution that stands above all other organizations in a society an d alone claims not only the capacity, but also the right to employ force • When the state’s monopoly of legitimate force is threatened, as in a civil war, its very existence is at stake. o As long as conflict continues, there is no legitimate authority • The difference between state and government is that a state defines the political community, whereas government is the managing agent • Sovereignty : Refers to the ultimate source of authority in society o Idea developed by the French philosopher Jean Bodin in the 16 century th • Sovereignty originally developed in Europe to justify the attempt by monarchs to consolidate control over kingdoms in which authority had previously been shared with feudal aristocracy and the Catholic Church o Concept of sovereignty contributed powerfully to the development of the European state • Internal Sovereignty : The law making power within a territory • External Sovereignty : The international recognition of a sovereign territorial jurisdiction • A country either has the legal title of sovereignty or it does not, there is no middle ground • Citizen: A full member of a state, entitled to the rights and subject to the duties associated with that state Directly taken from: Hague , Rod and Martin Harrop. Political Science. New York: Palgrave Macmillan , 2013.