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Concepts and Problems of Comparative Politics. Politics Focuses on human decisions Power Who gets what, when, where and why? The authoritative allocation.

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Presentation on theme: "Concepts and Problems of Comparative Politics. Politics Focuses on human decisions Power Who gets what, when, where and why? The authoritative allocation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Concepts and Problems of Comparative Politics

2 Politics Focuses on human decisions Power Who gets what, when, where and why? The authoritative allocation of values for a society? Political science – the study of human decisions

3 Why Governments? What are the functions of government? –Enhance security, community, nation building –Secure order –Protect property –Promote economic efficiency and growth Addresses problems of market failure (electricity, water, sewer) Public good(s) issues –Non-excludable –Not rival (consumption does not detract from someone else’s) –Subject to market failure –No incentive for private production (clean air, national security)

4 Why Government? Protect the weakest members of society Provide parameters of social justice Formally defined: –Governments are organizations of individuals legally empowered to make binding decisions on behalf of a community. OR –Governments are the formal institutions that make decisions about public policy and the processes and procedures of decisionmaking.

5 Why Government? Comparative Politics: – is thus the comparative study of decisionmaking in political systems –Related to a given territory (national territory) –Backed by authority and coercion (self-defense or expansion)

6 Nature of Man in Social Groups Thought: Hobbes and Weber; Rousseau and Locke Weber –The defining characteristic of government is its monopoly over the use of force Hobbes –State of nature inhospitable (condition of man without government) –Man in conflict against all –Nature is barbaric and fear filled –Government is the only solution to inevitable chaos –Concerned with internal and external security

7 Nature of Man in Social Groups –Rousseau State of nature brutish without law, morality Men ally to form “society” The Social Contract –agreement on membership Government is a source of power and inequality and thus human alienation and corruption –Questioned assumption that majority will always correct –Government should act morally. Should ensure freedom. –Locke State of nature not in conflict until the creation of property Property is the source of conflict (Its mine!) Government with a limited role (protecting property) is good –Must have an agreed upon social contract –Establish and enforce property rights and rules of economic exchange.

8 Government as the Problem? Critics: Anarchists and Libertarians –Anarchists: Communitarians who see societies as communities of people who in their natural condition are equal Governments lead to corruption in these communities which leads to oppression and alienation Alternative is voluntary cooperation

9 Government as the Problem? –Libertarians: Individualists who see society as composed of human beings with some fundamental rights (property, freedom of speech) The more government gets involved, the more prone it is to violate basic rights; e.g. law enforcement. Alternative is a society of unfettered individualism –Ayn Rand

10 Government as the Problem? Destruction of Community –Does government build or destroy communities? Violations of Basic Rights –Define basic rights? –Does the power held by governments allow them to violate rights? Economic Inefficiency –Surplus? Deficit?

11 Government as the Problem? Government for Private Gain –Rent Seeking – benefits created through government intervention in the economy Tax revenue or profits created because government restricted competition –Food subsidies –Gas/oil/energy subsidies –Influence trading? (insider information) –One person’s gain is another’s (or society’s) loss Vested interest and inertia –Once rents are created, difficult to abolish –House of Lords in Great Britain

12 Alternatives to Government? Markets and Voluntary coordination –Very small government –Extreme decentralization –Free market, individual property rights Thoughts????

13 Political Systems – Properties of Two Elements: –Independent parts with environmental boundaries –A set of institutions that formulate and implement the collective goals of a society or groups within it? Defined: A particular type of social system involved in making authoritative public decisions that has sovereignty. –Decisions are backed by legitimate coercion and compellance (power) –Legitimacy: those who are ruled believe that their rulers have a right (by law or custom) to implement their decisions by force if necessary The “right to rule” May ebb and flow over time

14 States Internal and External Sovereignty Old and New States Classification by Developmental Status Classification by Size Classification by Governmental or Political System Type A particular type of political system that has sovereignty

15 Internal and External Sovereignty Sovereignty –Independent legal authority over a population in a particular territory based on the recognized right to self- determination Kuwait Internal Sovereignty –Right to determine matters regarding one’s own citizens without intervention External Sovereignty –Right to conclude binding agreements with other states

16 Sovereignty Today Traditional forms joined by new forms Supranational organizations –European Union –North American Free Trade Agreement –United Nations Eg: peacekeeping missions, 100,000 peacekeepers –United Nations subunits or related orgs: FAO, WHO, UNESCO, IMF, World Bank

17 Old and New States states; increased by 117 by – 185 member states in the U.N. 1990s - 20 new states Taiwan, Switzerland, Vatican not members of the U.N. First, Second and Third World: –Advanced industrial democracies, Communist bloc, underdeveloped/developing nations –Still useful as a categorization?

18 Does Size Matter in Politics? Big and Small States: –Russia – 17 million square kms –Vatican City > ½ sq km and >1,000 residents –China – 1.2 billion population Does size determine politics? Does area and population determine economic development, foreign policy and defense issues? –Geographic location important to defense; central location means you need a large army; to do this you need high level of resource extraction =>authoritarian regime? Population growth rates and implications for economic development –Economies need to keep pace with population growth

19 Building Community Common identity and sense of community among citizens important Without a unifying factor cleavage can dominate –Japan: example of a population that is ethnically homogeneous with shared language, little religious diversity and strong political history; in addition, enjoys relative geographic isolation from neighbors –Nigeria: extremely large and diverse population; no common pre-colonial history; sharp religious divisions; 250 ethnic groups; language diversity

20 Nations, states, nation-states? Nation – a group of people with a common identity (how people identify themselves) –Nations do not necessarily have government or state –Some nations have close correspondence with state e.g.; Japan, France, Sweden –Nationhood as culture? State – political system with sovereignty Nation-state – cases in which the scope of legal authority and national identification coincide What about multinational states? –U.S.S.R, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia

21 Nationality and Ethnicity Ethnicity – Weber – humans who entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both Croats, Serbs and Muslim Bosnians – groups which differ by religious custom, marriage and historical memories – but are physically similar; may believe themselves to be descended from different ancestors and thus genetically different Jewish population of Israel – today heterogeneous from a homogeneous start – culture endures but not genetic homogeneity

22 Other sources of division Language Religious differences and fundamentalism What happens when divisions persist? How do these sources of difference impact politics?

23 Cross-Cutting Cleavage Political cleavage –When national, ethnic, linguistic and other divisions systematically affect political allegiances and policies Cross-cutting cleavage –Groups that share a common interest on one issue are likely to be on opposite sides of different issues Eg: Netherlands – class and religion cross-cut Catholics and Protestants are equally likely to be rich or poor and discrimination does not focus solely on Catholics

24 Cumulative Cleavage Cumulative cleavages – the same people are pitted against one another over and over again on a wide variety of issues. –Eg: Northern Ireland; Catholicism and poverty and history of discrimination: Protestantism and wealth and no history of discrimination


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