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Fundamental Concepts in Political Science. Douglas Brown Pols 222 / St Francis Xavier Winter 2013. Fundamental Concepts of Politics. What is Politics? The Nature of Political Power The State Government Legitimacy Democracy. What is Politics?. Learning to live together

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fundamental concepts in political science

Fundamental Concepts in Political Science

Douglas Brown

Pols 222 / St Francis Xavier

Winter 2013

fundamental concepts of politics
Fundamental Concepts of Politics
  • What is Politics?
  • The Nature of Political Power
  • The State
  • Government
  • Legitimacy
  • Democracy
what is politics
What is Politics?
  • Learning to live together
  • Authoritative allocation of scarce resources
  • Civilized struggle in a defined community
  • Exercising power
  • Drawing lines between the public and the private
the nature of political power
The Nature of Political Power
  • Legitimate authority
  • Backed by coercion (police, armed force)
  • Exercise of influence on community decisions
  • The many ways in which decisions are made and implemented in a community
the state
The State
  • The entire apparatus of authoritative decision-making institutions
  • The organized monopoly of political power
  • Bounded by a defined territory
  • …But what about power sharing? Federalism?
  • Generic word for the main institutions of the State
  • In Canada, we have federal, provincial, territorial, local and aboriginal governments
  • In parliamentary systems, the ministry commanding the confidence of the House
  • Governance is the act of governing, even if not by government
  • The rules, institutions and decisions of the State have the consent of the governed
  • Where Governments ultimately derive their power
  • Some sources of legitimacy:
    • Traditional leadership
    • Divine right
    • Military conquest
    • Democratic process
brooks definition on democracy
Brooks’ definition on democracy
  • “a political system based on the formal political equality of all citizens, in which there is a realistic possibility that voters can replace the government, and in which certain basic rights and freedoms are protected.”
  • Applying notions of equality to authoritative allocation
  • Liberal democracy: formal equality of citizens
  • Social democracy: towards actual equality of living standards
  • Economic democracy: workplace decision-making
  • Majority rules, but with major constraints such as individual and minority rights
forms of democratic expression
Forms of Democratic Expression
  • Direct democracy
    • Referendum, recall
  • Representative democracy
    • Parliament, city council, etc.
  • Participatory democracy
    • Public consultation, partnerships with social groups
  • Deliberative democracy
    • Ordinary citizens do the deliberating, not parliamentarians
political values
Political Values
  • What is our notion of the “good” when it comes to our political community?
  • What are our values ?
    • Freedom?
    • Equality?
    • Participation?
    • Solidarity?
    • Recognition?
identity politics
Identity Politics
  • What is our political community?
  • Traditional notions of political community
    • Class, caste
    • Religion
    • Ethnicity, race, tribe
    • Nation
canadian identities
Canadian Identities
  • Creative and destructive tension within historical and newer sets of “fault lines”.
  • Four older fault lines:
    • English/ French
    • British (Canadian) / American
    • Region
    • Religion (Catholic/Protestant)
new and emerging creators of political identity and values
New and Emerging Creators of Political Identity and Values
  • Aboriginal nationalism
  • Multiculturalism, visible minorities
  • “post-material” identities (e.g. “Greens”)
  • Gender, sexual orientation
  • New economic realities (e.g. “income polarity”)
  • Urban/suburban/rural