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Unit 1: Political Foundations

Chapter 1: The Concept of Politics (p. 2-7 #1-4)

Check Your Understanding

1. Aside from being social creatures, the Cultural Existence Theory does a good job at explaining why
human beings need to live in groups. Living in a group gives you a better chance at survival, helps you to
find meaning to life, helps you to define yourself (become yourself), and to find a place to belong. In my
opinion, the most important reason out of all is to find a place where you belong. When you find a place
where you belong, it also means you’ve found happiness and security, and eventually that sense of
belonging will help branch out into definition and meaning.

2. Plato described the human instinct to seek social connections to meet basic needs. He argued that the
proper goal of human beings is to bring about happiness within the community. The type of government
that would fit his description is polity, or democracy, since democracy aims to involve all human beings
to satisfy their needs. An example of a modern-day democracy would be Canada. Aristotle on the other
hand, claimed that the goal of politics was the good of the community. The role of the government was
to tell the people what to do and what not to do. The type of government that would fit his description
is aristocracy. An example of modern aristocracy would be Britain.

3. a) Formal politics involves the collective action of individuals in pursuit of common goals. It can be
defined as a process of resolving conflicts in which support is mobilized and maintained for collective
action. The formal level of politics involves individual or collective action in public forums, social
movements, media, citizens’ groups, or political parties. The informal level of politics involves everyone
in the social and personal interaction of everyday life. The smaller and simpler the social grouping the
more likely it is that politics stays at the informal level, with decisions arising from discussion or

b) To turn this action into formal politics, the first thing you’d want to do is start a movement or
organization that speaks out against child labor. This movement could initiate protests, sign petitions,
and message the Parliament about their motives.

4. There are three branches in modern governments: executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial

The executive branch is usually composed of elected politicians. In Canada, the prime minister, cabinet,
and the unelected bureaucracy of civil servants. The executive branch makes decisions, implements
policies and rules, and administers the resources of the government.

The legislative branch of governments makes laws. Is relied upon to create law.

The judicial branch of government is composed of the courts; members of the judiciary are usually
appointed by the executive branch. The judiciary interprets laws and, in some situations, resolves
disputes between governmental interests.

The most important branch of the three is the executive branch. Canada is an executive centric