James DANZİGER
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James DANZİGER CHAPTER ONE POLITICS AND KNOWLEDGE Definitions of Politics. Politics is the exercise of power. Politics is the public allocation of things that are valued Politics is the resolution of conflicts.

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James DANZİGER

CHAPTER ONE

POLITICS AND KNOWLEDGE


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Definitions of Politics.

Politics is the exercise of power.

Politics is the public allocation of things that are valued

Politics is the resolution of conflicts.

Politics is the competition among individuals and groups pursuing their own interests.

Politics is the determination of who gets what, how, and when.

Using the common element of the definitions above politics can be defined as follow:


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  • Politics is a human activity through which power and influence are used in the promotion of certain values and interests.

    - The distinction between private and public aspects of life

  • Politics is associated with those aspects of life which have public significance. Other aspects of life are private and thus are beyond the domain of politics.

    Some examples of issues which have public signiificance:

    - how much of your income you must give to government as income tax.

    - how much social and economic benefits the government must distribute and to whom.


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  • Political knowledge: Individual understanding of politics.

  • - differs from person to person,

  • determines our understanding about politics and shapes our decisions,

  • may be limited,

  • may be familiar to most people,

  • - may be obtained by various ways.


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Some Political statements that can be used to measure political knowledge:

1- Public schools are better than private schools.

2- Political participation of men is greater than women.

3- The most stable political systems of the world are found in developed countries.

4- University diploma is needed to become active in political activity.

5- the rich have more political power than the poor.


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When you read or hear such statements you might……….. political knowledge:

a- ignore them

b- accept them

c- reject them

d- try to evaluate them

Political Analysis is an attempt to describe and explain politics and political facts.


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“Political science is a set of techniques, concepts, and approaches whose objective is to increase the clarity and accuracy of an understanding about the political world“.

Three general types of political knowledge.

1- Description of political facts

2- Explanations of how and why politics

occurs as it does.

3- prescription of what should happen in any

area of political activity.


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1) approaches whose objective is to increase the clarity and accuracy of an understanding about the political world“.Description: Political knowledge includes descriptive response to "what" question. (descriptions may or may not reflect a reality)

for example:

-Italy is not a member of the EU.

-Turkey is a unitary state.

-The country with the highest per capita income is Nigeria.

-Soviet union collapsed in 1991.

- Nauru is the smallest country of the world.


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Explanation: Some questions about politics is about "why something happens”.

To answer this question we need to have political knowledge.

-Why does the USA want to have military and political control in Iraq?

-"What causes a country to have inflation of more than 100 percent in a single year"?

-Why does the government collect taxes?


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Prescription something happens”(a third type of political statement): (SHOULD)

  • "Statements about politics often include claims or assumptions that certain choices and actions are more desirable than others".

  • -"a prescription is a value judgment that indicates what should occur and should be done. So prescription deals with "normative" political knowledge.


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Normative political knowledge something happens” combines three levels of understanding

1- Your descriptive knowledge of certain facts. (the alternative forms of health care that are available in a particular society)

2-Your explanatory knowledge about why certain outcome occurs. (i.e. The causes of unequal health)

3-Your priorities among competing values (equality, individual rights, lower taxes.)


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Sources of Political Knowledge something happens”

1)authority 2)personal thought 3)science

1- Authority

a)Specific authority sources: political knowledge derives from a parent, teacher, friend, or famous person.

b) General authority sources: Constitution, several leaders (leaders who are respected by people), respected media, or books, religious teachings. (Here there is no direct link between you and the source)

c) Everyone as authority: "If virtually everyone seems to agree on a fact about politics, there is little reason for you to disagree or challenge that fact".


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2. Personal Thought something happens”

Some facts are correct for us because they are so obvious for us. Here you don't rely on an outside authority. The individual can use his powers of though to determine what he knows about the political world. Such knowledge can be based on rationality, intuition (sezgi), and personal experiences.

a- rationality: When you think that a certain fact is true because it is logical for you, you do not need for further justification. For example, you may believe that human beings are equal


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b- something happens”intuitions: is the second form of personal though. Here, your knowledge is based on feeling, on a sense of understanding rather than on reason.

c- personal experience: You can be convinced that something is true, because of your own experience.

3. Science

Unlike Authority and Personal thought as source of political knowledge "science uses explicit methods that attempt to enable different people to agree about what they know"


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Characteristics of scientific method: something happens”

-Search for regularities

-Science is empirical:

-Science is cumulative

-The method of science is testable.

*Applying scientific method in Political Science.

-There are different ways of undertaking Political analysis.

Knowledge clause: “In a democracy men are more likely to vote than women.”

This issue requires an analysis of gender and voting. Is it true that men and more likely than women to vote? How can we analyses this claim by means of the Scientific method.


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In order to apply scientific method to analyses political knowledge we can follow the following steps.

1- To examine the existing evidence. We find what have been done about voting by Political Scientist. Shortly we read relevant studies, books, journal articles.

2- Making hypothesis: The issue is stated or you describe what you are going to do in precise manner. “men are more likely to vote than women.”

3-Operationalizing key concepts: This means that you specify exactly what each concept means and it might be measured.

4- Gathering appropriate data: You need a strategy for colleting evidence that is valid and reliable. You must collect data about specific elections in one or more democracies. The relevant data can be gathered from books or reports or you may conduct a field study to measure the phenomena through a survey.


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5- knowledge we can follow the following steps.Analyzing the evidence: You compare the results obtained from different elections.

1976 1996

man women man women

voted 77% 67% 53 56

did not voted 23% 33% 47 44

6- Making inferences for using a statistical technique. This technique helps you to decide whether the difference in the data for women and men is greater than might expected by chance.

- Is the evidence sufficient? (men are more likely to vote than women)

- Is it possible to make generalization about gender and voting in the US based on only two elections?

- What is our inference about gender and voting in the US?


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Our answer will probably be based on the idea that men are more likely to vote than women, but if you get data for other presidential elections you would discover that women have voted at a higher rate than man in every USA presidential elections since 1980, and at a lower rate in every election prior to 1980.

----------- Our first inference is incorrect.

----------- Things can change. For this reason generalizations must be made with care.

----------- all important variables should be considered. For example education level may affect voting behaviors.

7- Conclusion: It requires extensive data, careful analysis, and consideration of several alternative explanations.


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Sub fields of Political Science more likely to vote than women,

1- Comparative Politics: Focuses on similarities and differences in Political processes and structures.

2- International Relations

3- Political theory or Political Philosophy focuses on the ideas and debates dealing with important Political questions. (what is political justice? Equality?democracy? Human rights?)

4- Boundary-Spanning Sub fields

Political science link with other fields of inquiry that borrows and adapts ideas from other disciplines such as political economy, political psychology, political sociology, political history.


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Scientific quality of Political Science: more likely to vote than women,

First criticism: Political Science is not a real Science in comparison to "natural" and applied sciences (e.g. chemistry, physics)

A fully developed Science includes four elements:

- Central concepts, which identify and name key phenomena.

- Theories, which are sets of systematically related generalizations that provide explanations and predictions about the lineages between certain concepts.

- Rules of interpretation, which indicate the methods that are used to understand whether the explanations and predictions provided by the theory are right or wrong.

- A list of questions (issues)

Second criticism: Its subject matter defies (disregard) generalizations:

it is argued that political world is too complex and contradictable for systematic generalization.


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Third criticism more likely to vote than women, : Political Scientists can not be objective:

It is argued that the issues chosen for study are influenced by the researches and his/her social realty such as culture, ideas, life experiences and so on.

Fourth criticism: Its practice diverts attention from normative questions.


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