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1. Introduction.  Politics: The process by which human communities make collective decisions.

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Presentation on theme: "1. Introduction.  Politics: The process by which human communities make collective decisions."— Presentation transcript:

1 1. Introduction

2  Politics: The process by which human communities make collective decisions




6  Political science: The systematic study of politics and power  Political science studies governments in all their forms and aspects, both theoretical and practical.


8  Comparative politics: A major subfield of political science







15  Comparative politics focuses on power and decision making within national boundaries  International relations focuses on the interactions between national governments

16  Can focus on the politics of one specific country (at the national or local level)  Can focus on comparing several places  Can focus on comparing issues and processes in one or more places through time

17  To understand political issues in various countries  To generate lessons from one place to apply in another  Overall, the goal is to develop generalized understandings of political activity through the development of broad theories about how politics works

18  Theory: An abstract element that provides a systematic explanation of some phenomena  Empirical theory: An argument explaining what actually occurs  Normative theory: An argument explaining what ought to occur rather than what does occur

19  Single case studies: One country or community to generate theories or test existing ones  The comparative method: A comparison of states that are similar on most issues but differ on a key question  Quantitative statistical techniques: used to systematically compare a large number of cases

20  What explains political behavior?  Who rules?  Where and why?

21  Why do political actors act as they do in the political arena?  Political actor: Any person or group engaged in political behavior

22  Three broad approaches focus on: Individual motivation Culture and ideology Underlying structures

23  Rational choice theory Assumes that people are rational, have self-defined interests and the knowledge and ability to pursue them  Psychological theories Look for nonrational explanations: individuals’ psychological experiences or dispositions

24  Political culture theories: Widely held values and beliefs help explain political behavior Modernists believe clear attitudes, values, and beliefs can be identified within a political culture Postmodernists see culture as sets of symbols that political actors can use  Political ideology: A systematic set of beliefs about how a political system ought to be structured

25  Political behavior is influenced and limited, perhaps even determined, by socioeconomic or political structures Marxism: Economic structures largely determine political behavior Rational-choice institutionalism: Institutions are the products of the interaction and bargaining of rational actors

26  Pluralist theory Power dispersed among various political groups in society  Elite theory Societies ruled by elite with effective control over virtually all power  e.g., Marxism, neocolonialism, patriarchy

27  Particular focus and contribution of comparative politics  Comparison across multiple cases to understand why political phenomena occur in certain places and times and not in others  Useful in generating broad theories of political behavior

28  Political development  Regime type and change  Participation and representation  Policy-making processes  Political economy

29  Focus is on why and how did modern nations and states arise Nations: groups with a shared identity States: administrative apparatuses that control territory and monopolize the use of force

30  Modernization: The transformation of poor agrarian societies into wealthy industrial societies  Some countries achieve rapid economic transformation and establish electoral democracies (e.g. South Korea)  Some poor countries are democratic (e.g. Ghana)  Some nondemocratic countries achieve great economic change (e.g. Vietnam)

31  What types of regimes are there and how do they differ? Examples: Democratic, authoritarian, semi- authoritarian  Under what conditions do regimes change from one type to another?

32  Democracy: A regime in which citizens have basic rights of open association and expression and the ability to change the government through some sort of electoral process  Authoritarian regime: A regime lacking democratic characteristics, ruled by a single leader or small group of leaders

33  Why and how do people participate in the political process?  How do strong “identity politics” affect the stability of democracy?  What is the role of civil society, interest groups, and political parties?

34  Civil Society: The sphere of organizes, nongovernmental, nonviolent activity by groups larger than individual families or firms

35  How do different regimes decide on which policies to pursue? What role do political institutions play?  Who is most influential in the policy- making process?  Do decisions reflect the will of the people?

36  Do some types of regimes produce better economic outcomes than others  Some authoritarian systems provide strong economic growth (e.g., China) and others do not (e.g., Nigeria)  Some democracies are capable of achieving beneficial economic outcomes, while others do not

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