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Politics and Political Science. Defining Characteristics of Politics making of decisions for groups 1.Involves the making of decisions for groups of people.

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Presentation on theme: "Politics and Political Science. Defining Characteristics of Politics making of decisions for groups 1.Involves the making of decisions for groups of people."— Presentation transcript:

1 Politics and Political Science

2 Defining Characteristics of Politics making of decisions for groups 1.Involves the making of decisions for groups of people exercising power 2.Decisions are made by some members of the group exercising power over other members of the group – Power – Power = ability of one person to cause another to what the first wishes, by whatever means Manifest: based on observable action Implicit: cannot be observed

3 Political Power Power is not identical to politics, but it is a key ingredient The exercise of power: – Coercion – Coercion: force a person to do something he/she does not want to do – Persuasion – Persuasion: convince someone that it is what he/she really wishes to do Power enables the carrying out of policies and decisions – Construction of Incentives – Construction of Incentives: make the alternative look so unattractive that only one reasonable option remains

4 Political Power Biological Biological –it’s in human nature to form social groups with “dominance hierarchies,” e.g., governments; but humans often do not obey authority Psychological Psychological – shows how humans behave in various situations, asserts that the behaviors are innate; however, there tend to be some who violate norms Cultural Cultural – argues that much human behavior is learned, derived from our culture Rational Rational – people form governments because it is a rational thing to do; we need institutions to help us survive Irrational Irrational – argues that people are emotional, moved by myths and stereotypes Composite Composite – elements of all these explanations have some truth

5 Key Political Concepts Regarding Power Legitimacy – Mass feeling that the government’s rule is rightful and should be obeyed Sovereignty – A national government’s being boss on its own turf, the last word in law in that country Authority – A political leader’s ability to command respect and exercise power, relying on a sense of obligation based on legitimate power of office

6 The Master Science According to Aristotle, politics is “the master science” – Almost everything happens in a political context Politics determines “who gets what, when and how” ~ Harold Lasswell Political decisions set up government structures and determine how the economic system operates

7 Relationship of Political Science to Other Social Sciences History History—Chief data source for political scientists Human Geography Human Geography—Territorial components of human behavior have political ramifications Economics Economics—Many political quarrels are economic Sociology Sociology—Empirical basis to political-culture, political-opinion, and electoral studies Anthropology Anthropology—Political culture subfield; Influence of tribes, clans, families, etc. on politics Psychology Psychology—Helps political scientists understand – Which personalities are attracted to politics – Why and when people obey authority figures – How people form national, group and voting attachments – Why leaders make particular decisions

8 Is Politics a Science? In the natural sciences, a clear process is at work Data is collected according to a well-defined and well- tested methodology, either by observation or experiment The data is quantified and manipulated statistically to test hypotheses (speculations) With enough hypotheses tested, generalizations (theories) can be developed about related phenomena

9 Political Science Interpretive “qualitative” Interprets sequence of events Interprets sequence of events Create general patterned interpretation of what process unfolded through events – Similar to History Behavioralist broad patterns using statistical analysis of numeric data Lean toward broad patterns across cases using statistical analysis of numeric data

10 Is Politics a Science? Key Requirements Political Science can be empirical like natural science scholarly Good scholarly work should be: – Reasoned – Reasoned – Clear, logical reasoning required; assumptions have to be explicit – Balanced – Balanced – Need to acknowledge there are several possible viewpoints on the topic – Supported with Evidence – Supported with Evidence – Data required for good scholarship; qualitative as well as quantitative data may be needed, as many aspects of politics aren’t readily quantifiable – Theoretical – Theoretical – Scholarship requires a theoretical framework that relates several factors to explain a broad array of phenomena

11 What Good Is Political Science? Professional political scientists set aside personal views in their research; alter their views if evidence suggest Political science training induces objective, complex analysis, in contrast to popular politics where fixed views and oversimplification are the norm Political science contributes to good government by informing policy officials of problems; political science may offer good solutions and public policy choices

12 The Subfields of Political Science U.S. Politics U.S. Politics – focuses on institutions and processes, such as parties, elections, public opinion, and executive and legislative behavior Comparative Politics Comparative Politics – examines politics within other nations to establish generalizations about democracy, stability, and policy International Relations International Relations – studies politics among nations, including conflict, diplomacy, international law Political Theory Political Theory – attempts to define the good polity Constitutional Law Constitutional Law – studies the applications and evolution of the Constitution within the legal and political system Public Policy Public Policy – analyzes the relationships of economics and politics to develop effective programs

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