You are on page 1of 25

POG 100: Introduction to Politics and Governance, Section 1/2/3/4 F2007

October 02 2007

October 02 2007
• • • • Review: Political regimes Approaches to the Study of Politics Ideas and ideologies Film: The Prophets and promise of Classical capitalism

Review: Political regimes
• Regime can be defined as a form of rule • Brodie (Text, 2005:90) refers to regimes also as ‘a mode of governance over the organized activity of a social formation within and across a particular configuration of society, state, market and global insertion’ • Regime contains four spheres, all of which are interrelated and interlocking: – State – Society – Market – Globalization

Review:Typologies and Ideal-types
• To construct typologies, we lean heavily on an idea popularized by Max Webber (1864-1920). • Webber advocated the use of what is known as ideal-types to distinguish between social or political orders. • Ideal-types are artificially constructed or abstract concepts used to describe the most ideal form of social organization. • The characteristics attributed to ideal-types are often not fully realized in actual life examples but approximate them – social democracy, communism, capitalism, liberal democracy, market economy as examples of ideal-types • The use of ideal-types in the social sciences is similar to the use of experiments in the natural sciences. Its application is aimed at generalizing social behaviour

Ideal-types and social formations
• Critique: Ideal types suggest a static form of order. However, human beings are dynamic and the organization of human societies changes with time • Karl Marx (1818-1883), building on Webber’s ideas developed the concept of social formations which suggests that society is organized through flexible social, economical, political and cultural processes that allow it to achieve coherence over time • Social formations are systems with interlocking and interacting dimensions • This approach speaks to the ability of social organizations to change while also maintaining stability

Review: Regime typology
• The classic regime typology includes three forms: – Authoritarian – Democratic – Revolutionary • More recently, the questions raised about the extent to which regimes are subject to the power of institutions such as corporations • Others argue that not all democratic regimes are the same – they show significant variation and diversity • Theorists have suggested a new formulations that seek to address the influence of corporations on modern governments/societies – Corporatist regime

Authoritarian regimes
• Characterized by rule by the few • Force or threat of use of force used implicitly or explicitly to maintain order • There is a continuum of authoritarian regimes that runs from benevolent dictatorships to totalitarian and governed by adherence to strict ideological or religious beliefs - theocracy, communism, fascism • Bureaucratic-authoritarianism describes military dictatorships whose project was nation building and state led development in post-colonial periods in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East • Many were able to survive because of support from super powers who used them a satellite states

Democratic Regimes
• • • • • • • • • Characterized as rule by the people (as self-determining citizens) Majority consent is the basis for legitimacy Majority benefit from and support the political order Include representative, social democratic, socialist, oligarchic, dependent, limited democracies In reality, these regimes are more representative and pluralist, than participatory – procedures exist to facilitate participation but other structures limit participation to small majorities Individuals have rights of citizenship and civic responsibilities, chief among them is the electoral process that determines who governs They are said to be the form of government most closely identified with the capitalist mode of production. Some have suggested that they represent the interests of ruling elites oligarchies dominate decision making at the expense of the masses Examples: Canada, USA, Sweden, France, Great Britain, Chile, Brazil

Revolutionary regimes
• Characterized by the overthrow of the preceding sociopolitical and economic order by a few or many (class or vanguard rule). • Most are born out of violence and tend to have a disciplinary dimension to them • Rarely are they pluralist and they often become totalitarian • Founded on ideologies that represent radical idea of how to organize society - radical transformation of the society, its social relations and the state • Marxists, communist, Anti-colonialist, nationalist, Islamic • Examples include: Russia, China, Vietnam, Iran • People power in Philippines, Bolivia, South Africa demonstrate that they are not necessarily violent overthrows.

Corporatist regimes
• Decision making is state directed, with the cooperation of key institutions – e.g: business and labour in Europe • Decision making is directed by powerful national or transnational interests representing • Has its roots in the C18th with the writing of such theorists as Emile Durkheim • Argued for the most efficient form of governance • Lead to an over reliance on expert class or technocracy for ‘rational’ decision making and implementation • Public accountability is limited because most decisions are not subject to political debate • Potential for alienation of citizens over time • Historical examples include fascist Italy under Mussolini

Corporatist movement in the 1920s –France, Italy, Germany Emile Durkheim (C19th): • The corporation was to become the elementary division of the state, its fundamental political unit • Obliterates the distinction between public and private • Challenges the idea of the public interest • Through the corporation, scientific rationality achieves its rightful place as the creator of collective reality • Philippe Schmitter (1970)
– Neo-Corporatism: A form of benign dictatorship – Interest representation seen as a form of corporatism

Critique of Corporatism
• Corporate rule undermines the role of the individual in liberal democracy • Leads to worship of self-interest and denies the public good • Claims rationality as the virtue that directs its form of governance • Imposes conformity and passivity on individuals • Corporate rule secures for the state the deference of citizens

Approaches to the study of politics
Politics is studied from a number of different approaches which suggest different ideological perspectives to key issues. • • • • • Institutionalism Pluralism Elitism Public Choice Class analysis

• • • The earliest approach to politics emphasized political orders based on key formal institutions, laws and processes of governance. According to the approach, institutions help us understand the process through which the questions of who gets what, how, why and when are resolved. The focus is on the similarities and differences between constitutional orders - parliamentary, presidential systems and dictatorial systems, and how these deal with such issues as the separation of power, federal and unitary forms of governance, and the legal structures that made governance orderly. Political systems are assumed to be working to produce outcomes that are acceptable to the population. Citizens are assumed to be engaged in the political process and well informed so that they can make informed choices It is assumed that citizens have equal access to engage in the political process

• • •

• • • • This approach is also related to Structural functionalism because it emphasizes the functions of the political system - rule making, rule application, rule adjudication. However, it has its limits and these have become increasingly clear. For instance, the persistent breakdown in constitutional orders especially during World War II was difficult to explain and created a crisis of confidence in the institutional approach. It is also hard to use it to explain those societies with no formal constitutional orders in the liberal democratic sense - for instance those societies that have been referred to as quasi-states or collapsed states It has also become clear that most citizens are not directly engaged in the formal process of politics and in fact many are effectively left out of the processes of decision making There is a mismatch between the theory and the political practice on the ground.

• •

• • In the post-war period, political scientists adopted what is called the behaviouralist approach to the study of politics. It was considered more scientific and theorists such as Robert Dahl argued that although the individual was the basic unit of political analysis, the complexity of modern society precluded the role of the informed individual in the policy making process The individual had been replaced by groups who act on behalf of individuals and their interests in a process of interest brokerage overseen by the government. Power is assumed to be widely dispersed in the political system among various actors According to the pluralists, these groups form around issues of political interest and articulate them to gain a policy advantage. In essence, while direct political participation was impossible, a new equally effective means of political participation though interest groups was able to maintain the democratic process and offer fair outcomes from the political system.

• • • •

• Pluralism is based a set of assumptions:
– That the state is democratic – Power is dispersed and not monopolized by state or corporate elite – Individuals are free agents employing a variety of resources to organize groups that make demands of the system – Authorities make decisions that represent compromises brokered between competing interest groups - a sort of market place – Different policy areas attract different individuals and groups – Interest group activity replaces individuals’ role in the political process

• Those who disagree with pluralism such as C. Wright Mills argue that a few people in all societies manipulate the levers of government to their benefit. • As a critique of the Pluralist approach, Elite theory suggests that the focus should not be on individuals and the freely formed groups based on interests but that society breaks down into two groups – the few on top who hold power and rule (the ones Plato referred to as philosopher kings) or the Oligarchy – the many below who are governed by them. • Elite theory acknowledges that human society is not homogeneous and that the differences among people in society make elite rule or the rule of the oligarchy inevitable. • Elites straddle both the public and private realms. For instance various political elites and corporate elites become bureaucratic elites over time and influence the direction of state policies in their various public and private capacities

• • • • • Elites of various groups in society - political, corporate, workers, ethnic, regional, and other groups of common bond tend to find what is called Elite Accommodation Elites also tend to reproduce them selves as they come to rely on each other for advice and action. They come to share a common world view and defend their common interests Some have suggested that the state elites can become autonomous from society through this process of elite accommodation. What emerges is what is called the Embedded State Critics of elite theory have pointed to it over-emphasis of the cohesion of the elites or oligarchy and lack of attention to the competition within the ruling elites. Further, that in modern society political constraints make it impossible for rulers to ignore the interests of the masses.

Public Choice
• This approach is based on the assumption that society is democratic and individuals have free choice to participate in politics • Politics represents majoritan rule and individuals and groups are conscious of their common interests • Individuals are rational and exercise their political choices rationally • Political representative will do anything to keep them in power. They take credit for good outcomes of policies and blame others, events outside their control for their failures

Public Choice
• Voters and politicians act in a self-interested manner so politicians make promises that attract the self-interested attention of voters • Political parties adopt policies that correspond to the interests of the largest number of voters • Political parties often focus on the marginal voters, undecided or strategically located voters • Political parties seek to maximize their successes and minimize their failures • Politicians are engaged in a bargaining process with the bureaucracy, the media and other authorities

Class Analysis
• • • • • Another social stratification approach is class analysis According to this approach, society is organized hierarchically, with different levels or strata having unequal access to power, authority, influence and resources. Following the work of Karl Marx, theorists from this school see social classes as antagonistic because their interests are in conflict, especially in the economy. The capitalist organization of the economy and politics – political economy – means that different social classes co-exist in society in tension. Marx provided the most comprehensive theory of class society in which he argue that the economic mode of production was the foundation of political organization in society. Therefore the working classes and the capital owning classes had different interests leading to class antagonisms. More importantly it deals most effectively with the issue of power and how it is distributed in society.
The focus here is largely on capitalist society but not exclusively so

Class analysis
• • • Class analysis is useful in understanding how power and wealth are unevenly distributed in society - the political consequences being political instability in the long run. Class analysis explains how modern capitalist society works and accounts for many of the other issues raised by the other approaches. But class analysis has been criticized as economically too deterministic and not able to explain changes in modern societies where people from different strata show mobility as they benefit from the dynamic organization of the capitalist economy. Another critique of class analysis is that, because of the focus on the production, it tends to ignore the fact that social stratification in society occurs along various planes and not just economic organization as. Others have identified stratification on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity as key to understanding most societies. These distinction also create their own hierarchies that intersect with class distinctions

• •

Radical approaches
• Feminism • Post-colonial • Post modernism – These tend to build on the Marxist conflict analysis seeing society as divided into groups in conflict, but not just as classes based on economic organization – Rather they emphasize other modes of stratification based on gender, race, colonial history, etc – Society is organized in an unequal, hierarchical order – They argue that liberal democratic structures cannot provide substantive equality unless there are positive (affirmative) corrections by the state

The approaches – Institutionalism, pluralism, elite, public choice and class analysis provide a useful way to understand political society. • While the institutional approach emphasizes formal political institutions and constitutional structures, pluralists in contrast emphasize the informal processes involving individual political actors and political competition among groups, as well as the role of citizens and groups as individual actors in a competitive political system. Public choice assumes a market environment for policy. • On the other hand, the elite approach focuses on elites domination of political life with an alienated majority accepting their role in society, while the class analysis approach suggests that social classes arise in society because of the nature of the organization of the economy and exist in antagonism against each other. • The other approaches characterized as radical including feminist, postcolonial and post-modernist emphasize the existence of divisions between men and woman, race and geography (North-South) and how they determine how society is governed.