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Chapter 1 Notes

by: Sierra Crumbaugh

Chapter 1 Notes POLI 201 001

Sierra Crumbaugh
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About this Document

These notes cover just chapter 1 of POLI 201.
American National Government
Class Notes
political science, American Government, Chapter 1




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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sierra Crumbaugh on Saturday January 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 201 001 at University of South Carolina taught by Darmofal in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 80 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 01/23/16
   Chapter  1 Tuesday,  January  12,  2019:58  AM Making  Sense  of  Government  and  Politics Two  fundamental  questions  that  political  scientists  focus  on   when  examining  politics:   1. What  do  we  observe?   a. An  empirical  question 2. Why?   a. A  fundamental  concern  of  science.  Requires   building  a  theory  around  principles.   3. A  third  question  could  be  normative.   a. What  is  the  best  form  of  government? b. Who  is  the  best  president  for  the  country? c. Etc.   Two  objectives: 1. What  is  government  and  politics? 2. Introduce  our  5  principles  of  politics What  is  government? Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:29  AM The  institutions  and  procedures  through  which  a  land   and  its  people  are  ruled Government  may  be  simple,  like  a  tribal  council  that  makes   all  decisions,  or  they  may  be  complex,  like  our  own  system   of  separate  branches  and  levels  of  government. Discussion:  Government  in  a  Farming   Society Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:33  AM → Imagine  that  everyone  in  this  room  is  a  farmer  in  out  own  self -­‐ contained  society Society Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:33  AM → Imagine  that  everyone  in  this  room  is  a  farmer  in  out  own  self -­‐ contained  society → We're  all  equal  in  every  respect → One  of  us  proposes  to  build  an  irrigation  system How  do  we  make  decisions?? Forms  of  Government:  Inclusiveness Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:35  AM → Autocracy -­‐a  single  individual  rules ○ Has  been  found  to  produce  problems  with  economic   performance,  etc. → Oligarchy  -­‐ a  small  group  of  landowners,  military  officers,  or   wealthy  merchants  rules. ○ Typically  a  group  of  people  that  have  previously  had  power → Democracy-­‐   A  system  of  rule  that  permits  citizens  to  play  a   significant  part  in  the  governmental  process Forms  of  Government:  Recognition  of   Limits Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:40  AM → Constitutional  -­‐Formal  and  effective  limits  are  placed  on  the   powers  of  government → Authoritarian  -­‐ No  formal  limits  are  placed  on  government  but   government  may  be  effectively  limited  by  other  social  institutions ○ There  may  be  a  ruling  class  in  the  country  that  the   government  would  be  concerned  about  the  approval  of  the   elites. ○ Some  kind  of  religious  institution  to  answer  to → Totalitarian-­‐   No  formal  or  effective  limits  on  government's   power  of  any  kind What  is  Politics? Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:46  AM power  of  any  kind What  is  Politics? Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:46  AM The  conflicts  and  struggles  over  the  leadership,  structure,  and   policies  of  government Politics  takes  many  forms   -­‐ voting,  running  for  office,  joining   groups  and  parties,  lobbying,  and  even  speaking  to  friends  and   neighbors The  5  principles  of  politics  can  be  used  to  explain  political  action The  5  Principles  of  Politics Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:51  AM 1. All  political  behavior  has  a  purpose 2. Institutions  structure  politics 3. All  politics  is  collective  action 4. Political  outcomes  are  the  products  of  individual   preferences,  institutional  procedures,  and  collective   action 5. How  we  got  here  matters Rationality  Principle Thursday,  January  14,  2016 10:59  AM All  political  behavior  has  a  purpose → Political  behavior  is  instrumental Not  random ○ ○ Done  with  forethought § May  apply  to  political  leaders  but  not  to  the   average  citizen ○ Calculation → Political  actors  pursue  policy  preferences,  reelection,   power,  and  to  maximize  their  agency  budgets average  citizen ○ Calculation → Political  actors  pursue  policy  preferences,  reelection,   power,  and  to  maximize  their  agency  budgets Institution  Principle Thursday,  January  14,  2016 11:08  AM Institutions  structure  politics → Institutions  are  the  rules  and  procedures  that   provide  incentives  for  political  behavior → Remember  that  institutions  themselves  are  not   necessarily  permanently  fixed.  Rules  may   change;  they  just  don’t  change  easily Institutions  Provide  Authority  in  Four  Ways 1. Jurisdiction-­‐ the  domain  over  which  decisions   may  be  made 2. Agenda  and  Veto  Power  -­‐control  over  what  a   group  will  consider  for  discussion  and  the  ability   to  defeat  something 3. Decisiveness-­‐  rules  for  decision  making 4. Delegation-­‐  transmission  of  authority Principal-­‐Agent  Relationship Tuesday,  January  19,  2016 10:12  AM w May  be  affected  by  the  fact  that  each  is  motivated  by   self-­‐interest,  yet  their  interests  may alllignede  w-­‐e (A  principal  want  to  get  some  policy  outcome  achieved.   It  needs  agents  to  carry  out  the  work  in  order  to   achieve  the  policy  outcome) w As  a  result,  the  principal  needs  to  have  some  way  to   monitor  and  validate  what  the  agent  is  doing w This  leads  to  transaction -­‐  the  cost  of  clarifying  the   relationship  and  making  sure  arrangements  are   complied  with   w As  a  result,  the  principal  needs  to  have  some  way  to   monitor  and  validate  what  the  agent  is  doing w This  leads  to  transaction -­‐  the  cost  of  clarifying  the   relationship  and  making  sure  arrangements  are   complied  with   Collective  Action  Principle Tuesday,  January  19,  2016 10:22  AM All  politics  is  collective  action w Collective  action  is  difficult  and  the  difficulty  mounts  as   the  number  of  people  and  interests  involved  grows w Sometimes  there  are  collective  action  dilemmas   -­‐ situations  in  which  individually  rational  incentives  do  not   align  with  shared,  collective  interests Collective  Action  and  Public  Goods w Collective  action  is  the  pooling  of  resources  and  the   coordination  of  effort  and  activity  to  achieve  common   goals w Public  goods  are  those  that  may  be  enjoyed  by  anyone   and  may  not  be  denied  to  anyone Collective  Action  is  Difficult w Collective  action  and  provision  of  public  goods  becomes   even  more  difficult  as  the  number  of  parties  involved   increases  or  as  the  ability  to to-­‐face  is   hampered ○ EX: § Free  Riding § Tragedy  of  the  Commons w Institutions  are  the  solutions  to  these  problems Policy  Principle Tuesday,  January  19,  2016 10:42  AM Political  outcomes  are  the  products  of  individual   preference  and  institutional  procedures w The  policy  principle  is  the  logical  combination  of  the   first  three  principles w Policy  outcomes  are  frequently  "lacking  in  neatness"   Political  outcomes  are  the  products  of  individual   preference  and  institutional  procedures w The  policy  principle  is  the  logical  combination  of  the   first  three  principles w Policy  outcomes  are  frequently  "lacking  in  neatness"   because  we  have  a  system  where  personal  ambition   mixes  with  a  decentralized  political  system History  Principle Tuesday,  January  19,  2016 10:46  AM How  we  got  here  matters w Path  dependency  -­‐ certain  possibilities  are  made  more   or  less  likely  because  of  the  historical  path  taken w Three  reasons  why  history  matters: ○ Rules  and  procedures ○ Loyalties  and  alliances ○ Historically-­‐conditioned  points  of  view Political  outcomes  are  the  products  of  individual   preference  and  institutional  procedures w The  policy  principle  is  the  logical  combination  of  the   first  three  principles w Policy  outcomes  are  frequently  "lacking  in  neatness"   because  we  have  a  system  where  personal  ambition   mixes  with  a  decentralized  political  system History  Principle Tuesday,  January  19,  2016 10:46  AM How  we  got  here  matters w Path  dependency  -­‐ certain  possibilities  are  made  more   or  less  likely  because  of  the  historical  path  taken w Three  reasons  why  history  matters: ○ Rules  and  procedures ○ Loyalties  and  alliances ○ Historically-­‐conditioned  points  of  view


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