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POL 1000 – Lecture 2: Contending Approaches Sean Clark Lecturer, Memorial University Doctoral Fellow, CFPS Winter Session, 2011 Sean Clark Lecturer, Memorial.

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Presentation on theme: "POL 1000 – Lecture 2: Contending Approaches Sean Clark Lecturer, Memorial University Doctoral Fellow, CFPS Winter Session, 2011 Sean Clark Lecturer, Memorial."— Presentation transcript:

1 POL 1000 – Lecture 2: Contending Approaches Sean Clark Lecturer, Memorial University Doctoral Fellow, CFPS Winter Session, 2011 Sean Clark Lecturer, Memorial University Doctoral Fellow, CFPS Winter Session, 2011

2 Lecture Arc  1. Formal/legal-Institutionalism.  2. Systems Analysis.  3. Structural-Functionalism.  4. Political Culture.  5. Rational Choice.  6. Neo-Institutionalism.  7. Critical Scholarship.  1. Formal/legal-Institutionalism.  2. Systems Analysis.  3. Structural-Functionalism.  4. Political Culture.  5. Rational Choice.  6. Neo-Institutionalism.  7. Critical Scholarship.

3 The Battle of Approaches  Poli scis rarely start from the same point.  Begin w different assumptions, questions, concepts, & methods.  Lesson? There are different ways to conceptualize political life.  Classical concern was w formal institutional arrangements (legal structure of power).  Who has what power, & thru what legal channels is it exercised (i.e. Bagehot in 1867, 1872)?  How does the system work? What do the blueprints of power look like?  1950s: we need to make poli sci a real ‘science.’  Classicals care about description, not why things happen.  Is atheoretical (focus on specific cases, not general theory).  Focus on instxns = miss other political actors.  What about historical practice (i.e. PM started as unwritten)?  Instxns don’t always work as written or designed.  ‘Tell me the 14 powers of the queen.’  Too parochial (concerned only w W).  Thus, Behaviouralism arrives by 1960s.  Is acceleration of sci ambition (use scientific method to search for causal relations) of post-Adam Smith era.  Aims to develop general theories thru systematic, often large-scale, comparisons & the use of quantitative methods.  Take large amounts of data, then tease out general laws.  Focus on behaviour, as action seen to reveal preferences (better than words or blueprints).  Poli scis rarely start from the same point.  Begin w different assumptions, questions, concepts, & methods.  Lesson? There are different ways to conceptualize political life.  Classical concern was w formal institutional arrangements (legal structure of power).  Who has what power, & thru what legal channels is it exercised (i.e. Bagehot in 1867, 1872)?  How does the system work? What do the blueprints of power look like?  1950s: we need to make poli sci a real ‘science.’  Classicals care about description, not why things happen.  Is atheoretical (focus on specific cases, not general theory).  Focus on instxns = miss other political actors.  What about historical practice (i.e. PM started as unwritten)?  Instxns don’t always work as written or designed.  ‘Tell me the 14 powers of the queen.’  Too parochial (concerned only w W).  Thus, Behaviouralism arrives by 1960s.  Is acceleration of sci ambition (use scientific method to search for causal relations) of post-Adam Smith era.  Aims to develop general theories thru systematic, often large-scale, comparisons & the use of quantitative methods.  Take large amounts of data, then tease out general laws.  Focus on behaviour, as action seen to reveal preferences (better than words or blueprints).

4 Systems Analysis  Easton’s ‘systems theory’ was 1 st behavioural effort. Unique bc:  Focused on political actors.  Offered general (applicable everywhere) & simplified (boiled to basic parts) theory of politics.  Saw politics as mechanisms regulating a series of demands & resources (‘inputs’) into ‘outputs’.  Politics can change from exogenous shocks or endogenous ‘feedback.’  Inputs & outputs balance until reach equilibrium.  (essentially saw polities as work of machines).  Problems:  Mechanisms largely seen as impenetrable ‘black boxes,’ so how advance our understanding of decisions?  Actors appear equal in power, but surely this cannot be.  Is biased towards equilib. Govts can, after all, fall apart.  Why do mechanisms emerge in the first place?  Easton’s ‘systems theory’ was 1 st behavioural effort. Unique bc:  Focused on political actors.  Offered general (applicable everywhere) & simplified (boiled to basic parts) theory of politics.  Saw politics as mechanisms regulating a series of demands & resources (‘inputs’) into ‘outputs’.  Politics can change from exogenous shocks or endogenous ‘feedback.’  Inputs & outputs balance until reach equilibrium.  (essentially saw polities as work of machines).  Problems:  Mechanisms largely seen as impenetrable ‘black boxes,’ so how advance our understanding of decisions?  Actors appear equal in power, but surely this cannot be.  Is biased towards equilib. Govts can, after all, fall apart.  Why do mechanisms emerge in the first place?

5 Structural-Functionalism  Almond incorporates Parsons, Merton, & Durkheim’s thoughts on social functions.  Argmt: structures of politics (i.e. instxns, rules) exist bc they are necessary.  Polities evolve like biological creatures. Each organ is vital to survival.  Every political system has 7 core functions:  political socialization, interest articulation, interest aggregation, political communication, rule making, rule application, & rule adjudication.  Virtue: same function can be seen in different cultural contexts.  Problem: is circular argmt (fxn drives instxn).  Instead, some fxns arrive simply by historical accident (i.e. countries created on basis of map lines).  Plus, not all societies have the same functions.  I.e. Japan & US stress election campaigns. Singapore & China do not.  Almond incorporates Parsons, Merton, & Durkheim’s thoughts on social functions.  Argmt: structures of politics (i.e. instxns, rules) exist bc they are necessary.  Polities evolve like biological creatures. Each organ is vital to survival.  Every political system has 7 core functions:  political socialization, interest articulation, interest aggregation, political communication, rule making, rule application, & rule adjudication.  Virtue: same function can be seen in different cultural contexts.  Problem: is circular argmt (fxn drives instxn).  Instead, some fxns arrive simply by historical accident (i.e. countries created on basis of map lines).  Plus, not all societies have the same functions.  I.e. Japan & US stress election campaigns. Singapore & China do not.

6 Political Culture  Almond & Verba: political systems can be explained by culture.  Values & beliefs towards politics (themselves the consequence of historical events) will shape how that polity operates.  US: founded by immigrants distrustful of govt = legacy today.  Pre-1960 French Canada: endurance of conservative values as settled-then-separated before liberal ideas swept Europe post Napoleon.  Question inspired by potential for democratization during post-decolonization.  What regions are prepped for democ? Which not?  Problems:  How operationalize culture? How place it on a graph?  They try, i.e. Putnam, but is very difficult & uncertain task.  How avoid relativity (preference of one cult over another)?  How does cultural change occur?  How important is culture, since different cults can end up with same political stability (i.e. US, Japan, Botswana).  Almond & Verba: political systems can be explained by culture.  Values & beliefs towards politics (themselves the consequence of historical events) will shape how that polity operates.  US: founded by immigrants distrustful of govt = legacy today.  Pre-1960 French Canada: endurance of conservative values as settled-then-separated before liberal ideas swept Europe post Napoleon.  Question inspired by potential for democratization during post-decolonization.  What regions are prepped for democ? Which not?  Problems:  How operationalize culture? How place it on a graph?  They try, i.e. Putnam, but is very difficult & uncertain task.  How avoid relativity (preference of one cult over another)?  How does cultural change occur?  How important is culture, since different cults can end up with same political stability (i.e. US, Japan, Botswana).

7 Rational Choice  Develop theories from economics-like deductive laws.  1. Assume actors maximize their interests.  Are ‘rational’ egoists.  Behave strategically (weigh costs & benefits).  2. Deduce consequential behaviour.  Society is aggregation of individual choices.  Groups thus reflect sum of strategic calculations.  Concerned with incentives & corresponding behaviour.  3. Compare against empirical record.  I.e. Downs’ (‘57) theory of democracy, Riker’s (‘62) theory of coalitions.  Made simple logic model, compared it to evidence, & found it demonstrated profound congruence.  Virtues: uncovers underlying motivations, & is widely generalizable (acultural).  Vices:  Overplay ‘strategic’ decisions given info is so limited.  Assumes preferences are given. Why can’t they change?  Are humans really ‘rational’? Can they calculate w/o bias?  Develop theories from economics-like deductive laws.  1. Assume actors maximize their interests.  Are ‘rational’ egoists.  Behave strategically (weigh costs & benefits).  2. Deduce consequential behaviour.  Society is aggregation of individual choices.  Groups thus reflect sum of strategic calculations.  Concerned with incentives & corresponding behaviour.  3. Compare against empirical record.  I.e. Downs’ (‘57) theory of democracy, Riker’s (‘62) theory of coalitions.  Made simple logic model, compared it to evidence, & found it demonstrated profound congruence.  Virtues: uncovers underlying motivations, & is widely generalizable (acultural).  Vices:  Overplay ‘strategic’ decisions given info is so limited.  Assumes preferences are given. Why can’t they change?  Are humans really ‘rational’? Can they calculate w/o bias?

8 Neo-Institutionalism  Must not privilege individual actors over instxns (have their own causal weight).  Different instxns = different outcomes.  Navigate politics differently in US (presidential system) than in Canada (parliamentary system)—i.e., President is much weaker than PM.  I.e. Skocpol (‘79): need to bring ‘state back in.’  Instxns provide incentives, thus condition behaviour.  Focus not on legal framework, but how instxn actually operates (i.e. diff from classicals).  Recognize influence of structural conditions, but also allows for agency and change.  Problem: again, what about change?  Someone creates them, runs them. So what about these actors, these individuals?  JS Mill (of constxns): “men did not wake up on a summer morning and find them all sprung up.”  Plus, concern w focus on historical context, rather than generalizable findings.  How learn if only concerned with one point in time & space?  Must not privilege individual actors over instxns (have their own causal weight).  Different instxns = different outcomes.  Navigate politics differently in US (presidential system) than in Canada (parliamentary system)—i.e., President is much weaker than PM.  I.e. Skocpol (‘79): need to bring ‘state back in.’  Instxns provide incentives, thus condition behaviour.  Focus not on legal framework, but how instxn actually operates (i.e. diff from classicals).  Recognize influence of structural conditions, but also allows for agency and change.  Problem: again, what about change?  Someone creates them, runs them. So what about these actors, these individuals?  JS Mill (of constxns): “men did not wake up on a summer morning and find them all sprung up.”  Plus, concern w focus on historical context, rather than generalizable findings.  How learn if only concerned with one point in time & space?

9 Critical Scholarship  ‘Critical’ bc unhappy w mainstream theory.  Argue it is not neutral & value free, as mainstream claims.  This is not actually a ‘scientific’ enterprise.  Cox: ‘all theory is for someone.’  I.e. realist power theories are merely to privilege the powerful.  Feminism: gender analysis missing in traditional literature.  Must understand women do not start in same place as men (patriarchy).  Often suffer differently (i.e. rape in war, wage gap, etc).  Suffrage has not ended male occupation of most high offices.  Contention: how different are women from men (a spirited debate even w/in feminism itself).  Postmodernism: pretensions of ‘science’ is a sham.  Humans are too complicated to be studied like atoms.  Foucault: is no political ‘reality. Instead, just discourse (language & exchange of ideas).  Need to unlock origins of these ideas (‘deconstruction’; who are they benefiting?), & trace their impact—is only way to achieve social equality.  Of course, if can’t accumulate knowledge (is no reality), what is point of research?  ‘Critical’ bc unhappy w mainstream theory.  Argue it is not neutral & value free, as mainstream claims.  This is not actually a ‘scientific’ enterprise.  Cox: ‘all theory is for someone.’  I.e. realist power theories are merely to privilege the powerful.  Feminism: gender analysis missing in traditional literature.  Must understand women do not start in same place as men (patriarchy).  Often suffer differently (i.e. rape in war, wage gap, etc).  Suffrage has not ended male occupation of most high offices.  Contention: how different are women from men (a spirited debate even w/in feminism itself).  Postmodernism: pretensions of ‘science’ is a sham.  Humans are too complicated to be studied like atoms.  Foucault: is no political ‘reality. Instead, just discourse (language & exchange of ideas).  Need to unlock origins of these ideas (‘deconstruction’; who are they benefiting?), & trace their impact—is only way to achieve social equality.  Of course, if can’t accumulate knowledge (is no reality), what is point of research?

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