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

September 11 2007

September 11 2007
• • • • • • Review: Studying Politics What is Politics? What is Governance? Film: A Force More Powerful Political Power Political regimes

Why Study Politics
• Politics is important because it determines our place in society, in the world and what our lives will be like
– Will there be peace or war. – Is this a period of the ‘Long war against terror’ or just another fad like the ‘war on drug’? – Should Canada be fighting the war in Afghanistan?

• Public policy defines the future for this generation – the quality of education, the level of student debt you will leave here with, the economy in which you will seek employment • It involves big events, but it is also fun. Power, sex, lies, sex, videotapes

Why Study Politics
• Politics is full of interesting characters – really important and historical figures as well as those who think they are • That’s why Jon Stewart, Rich Mercer and other comedians make a living off of political satire. • As citizens, it helps us understand what seem like mysterious phenomena
– – – – ‘why are they so angry at us?’ ‘why do they hate our values?’ “what really does Quebec want?’ “why does the Middle East conflict persist?’

• It is easy because it is about things that happen in our everyday lives • It leads to good, secure and interesting careers (sometimes in interesting places)

Why Study Politics
Politics allows us to make connections to everyday events and preoccupations: All roads lead to politics. So do all the ways we travel on those roads. • Amos Hawley (1963: 433): “Every act is an exercise of power, every social relationship is a power equation, and every social group or system is an organization of power”

Political Science
• Empirical analysis - explaining various aspects of politics using the scientific method of observation and comparison to develop generalizations and theories • Normative Analysis: examining ideas and narratives about how societies should be governed • Policy Analysis: Evaluating existing policies and identifying what policies should be adopted to particular problems • Comparative Analysis: examining similarities and differences between political processes, structures and institutions in different political communities

Studying Politics
• Political institutions
– – – infrastructure of governance – parliament, assemblies, councils, bureaucracy, judiciary, political parties, civil society and social sector agencies, social movements Constitutions, legislation, by-laws The study of politics has historically focused on institutions of government

Political Ideas – Politics as ideas: G. W. Hegel (1770-1831) argued that it is ideas that are the foundation of political action and political institutions In fact, Hegel suggested that all that exists is the product of the human mind or ideas. Nothing exists outside of the consciousness of human beings. In essence, consciousness determines our being. – Without political ideas, we cannot conceive of the institutions of governance that are the product of human imagination. Political ideas are embodied in these political systems and the institutions they produce. Ideas are the most important source of explanation of human conduct. – Ideology: A set of systematic ideas or beliefs that provide a coherent and consistent explanation for political action. They often have core concepts of human nature and philosophy of history. The concept of human nature is central to
the study of politics because it informs our ideological approach to politics and public policy. As our ‘taken for granted’ understanding of the events around us, it defines our world view and political affiliations/commitments

Ideas and the material realm
• Uniting ideas and the material expression of ideas gives us political action
“Material forces are the content and ideologies are the form…distinction between form and content has purely didactic value, since the material forces would be inconceivable historically without form and the ideologies would be individual fancies without the material forces.” Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)

What is Politics
• • • Politics is concerned with how people organize themselves to tackle common problems. It is a contested process involving struggles among groups with conflicting interests Politics as the ‘art and science of government’ or the ‘authoritative allocation of values’ through the institutions of government Politics is about power and how power is exercized to determine the ability to access resources: It seeks to address the questions of who gets what why and how? (Harold Laswell) Politics is the ‘art of the possible’. Emphasis is on compromise/mediating differences Politics is a process: A continuing series of events and interactions among actors – individuals, organizations, governments. These processes occur within structures demarcated by rules, procedures, institutions. Politics is the process by which communities, peoples, societies pursue collective goals and deal with conflicts authoritatively through their governments Politics as a process by which individuals or citizens ensure the common good or public good. It is a fundamental feature of all organized society.

• •

• •

• • • Governance is concerned with the organization of power to achieve collective ends. Simply put "governance" means: the process of political decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance in common usage is applied to nation-state:
– national governance; community: local governance; business: corporate governance; global: international governance.

Since governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented, an analysis of governance focuses on processes that are:
– formal – informal

• •

It also focuses on actors involved in decision-making and implementing the decisions made the formal and informal structures in place to arrive at and implement the decision.

Politics and governance
• People govern themselves in a variety of ways.
– In some cases, as in Canada, people have various levels of governance and formal governments – federal, provincial, municipal, community, self-government. – In others, it is through kingdoms or fiefdoms. – There are also unitary and federal governmental arrangements

• All these institutions engage in a process of rule making • Rule making determines the conduct of life for the members of society and provides them with identity, belonging and a sense of purpose in life. • Informal processes of governance occur outside of the structures of government, such as those in what we call civil society, the social sector, in religious institutions.

Politics and governance
• • • In the early twenty first century, the focus of politics and governance is largely on national level organization - commonly known as the state. The state is the structure through which local governance over everyday events is connected to international levels of governance over global events However, we are often impacted directly by other levels of organization – local community, village, municipal, reservation, band, and sub-nation (such as provincials, state)
– – These both have the capacity and role in solving people’s common problems as well as administrative and historical structures that make them relevant. They also have the capacity to impact people lives negatively

People in different parts of the world govern themselves in a variety of ways. In some cases, as in Canada, people have various levels of governance and formal governments. In other places informal processes are more pronounced, so we consider them less democratic. In Canada, we recognize some of the informal processes of governance that occur involving non-elected actors such as lobbyists or outside of the structures of government, such as in civil society: the business sector, the social sector, religious institutions. Like state actors, these institutions engage in rule making that determines the conduct of life for their members and provide them with identity, belonging and a sense of purpose in life.

Governance and policy making
Governance often translates into contests over public issues and problems as people seek ways to go about solving the problem(s) identified. • The process by which these are addressed in the process of policy making • Public policy represents a course of action or inaction chosen by public authorities to address a given problem, issue or interrelated problems or issues Politics and government are concerned with the Common Good. Both Political idealists and realists agree that politics is about seeking and ensuring the common good of the political community. The Common Good approach to governance assumes common values and interests on the part of the members of society.

• • •

The Common Good
• • • Common Good: what is good for the political community as a whole, as well as the general welfare of the members of the political community This is a contested concept since different people tend to define the common good differently. Do leaders act to further the common good or their interests? (IRAQ) From a Collectivist perspective, the common good represents the interests and well-being of the political community as a whole. In some cases, this is interpreted as meaning that the good of all supercedes the good of individuals. Individuals are expected to sacrifice for the good of the political community. From an individualistic perspective, it is the well being of individuals that is supreme. The political community is seen as the sum of the interests of individuals. The well being of the individual is the proper measure of the common good because it can only be achieved by allowing individuals to be free to pursue their interests The public interest is often defined from these varied perspectives

There is also a question as to what geographical boundaries to use to determine the community to which the common good applies - city, province, country, global or whether is should extend beyond humans to other beings and the environment

Units of Analysis
• • • • • • • The individual as a unit of analysis Sovereignty The sovereign individual/Citizen The state, kingdom, province, community The world, global or global village, The planet and the environment Gender, race, ethnicity, ability, sexuality

Key concepts
• • • • • • • • The concept of human nature The concept of power The concept of consent Authority and governance The individual Citizen as sovereign Individual and society or the collective The state, kingdom, province, community as political communities • Nation, nation-state, country • National, local, global, globalization

Human nature
What does it mean to be human? “ Man is a political animal” Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) Humans are social beings by nature. Only a beast would live without being in a society or a political community. Society is the highest form of selfactualization The state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” Hobbes (1588-1679) A condition of war involving “every man against every man” Humans are selfish, driven by desires and aversions, engaged in a perpetual struggle till death. They seek to avoid violence, starvation and death by seeking power Humans are weak and helpless – St. Augustine (354-430) Humans are good but corruptible - Jean Jacques Rousseau

Human nature
• The starting point in all thinking about politics is the question of human nature.
– The very concept of being human. – It is this consciousness that animates all political consideration.

• What is human nature? Are we, as Aristotle (384-322) argued, by nature social beings or , as Thomas Hobbes (15881679) alleged, solitary and isolated beings in a nasty, short and brutish state of nature? • Is the desire for power intrinsic to human nature as Nietzsche claimed or are human beings capable of love and cooperation as Emmanuel Kant and Jean Jacques Rousseau suggest? • How we answer these questions determines how we approach all aspects of politics and the study of politics.

Human Nature
• • • If we regard human beings as power hungry and self-centred, we are more likely to agree with approaches that emphasize order over popular participation. If we believe in humanity as peace-loving and cooperative, we can envision how nations work together rather than prepare for perpetual war. Thinking on the issue of human nature determines how political theories that seek to explain human phenomena are constructed. If we believe humans are essentially estranged, then Hobbes speaks to us more clearly than Aristotle who assumes that they are predisposed to cooperate with each other. We understand society either from the John Stuart Mill point of view of people as social beings who freely come together into communities or take the Hobbesian position that they are forced into some form of orderly existence in hierarchical communities.

Politics and Power
The power to govern derives from: • The individual citizen/s as source of political legitimacy • The people as source of legitimacy - people power, class power • God (deity) -divine authority as source of legitimacy – theocracy, absolute monarchy • Traditional/expert authority as source of legitimacy - aristocracy, oligarchy, corporatism • Power as source of legitimacy - dictatorship, colonialism, imperialism • Politics is often seen as a struggle for power

Power and Politics
• • • • Power as the ability to bring about desired outcome Power as the ability to influence the actions of others Power as coercion - using fear or threats to achieve outcomes Power as the ability to impose one group’s interests on others - or to define them as the public interest • Power as the capacity to make decisions • Power to act - citizens • Power over others - subjects • Power as ubiquitous – Michel Foucault
– Power runs through all social relations – Knowledge as power – Power and resistance

Power to and Power over
Power understood as: Power to act:
– Being empowered to do something about events around you, achieve collective goals – People power - Gandhi and India, Philippines,Civil rights movements, feminist movement, social movements

• Power over others:
– Being subject to constraints imposed by others – Citizen as subject – Oppressions - imperialism, patriarchy, colonialism

Class Exercise
• Film: A Force More Powerful • Write a short paragraph indicating what key political issue caught your attention in the video and why • Is there a key quote you took away from the film? • Submit with your name and date next week

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