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Fundamental Concepts in Political Science Douglas Brown Pols 222 / St Francis Xavier Winter 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Fundamental Concepts in Political Science Douglas Brown Pols 222 / St Francis Xavier Winter 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fundamental Concepts in Political Science Douglas Brown Pols 222 / St Francis Xavier Winter 2013

2 Fundamental Concepts of Politics What is Politics? The Nature of Political Power The State Government Legitimacy Democracy

3 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

4 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

5 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?

6 Government 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

7 Legitimacy 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

8 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.”

9 Democracy 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

10 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

11 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?

12 Identity Politics What is our political community? Traditional notions of political community  Class, caste  Religion  Ethnicity, race, tribe  Nation

13 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)

14 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

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