Introduction to Political Sciences

Introduction to Political Sciences
Repetition for Midterm 1
Introduction to Political Sciences
Session 2
What is Political Science?
What is politics?
• Definition
• Key concepts:
– Power: influence and coercion
– Authority: The legitimacy of power
– Dimensions of legitimacy:
• Input: Democratic procedures
• Output: Performance of the political system/govt
• Social: social coherence, so that rule of the majority is
accepted by the citizens
Who are the people?
• People are Citizens: Not all people living in a
state have the right to vote (foreigners
without citizenship)
• Tension between nation and state – nation
state implies that each state consists of one
• Illustration: electoral turnout in Belgium,
Independence of Kosovo
Approaches to the study of politics
• Normative vs. Empirical analysis
– Normative: What should be
– Empirical: What is observable
• Rationalist vs. constructivist approaches
– Rational choice theory: benefit maxismising
(Political Economy)
– Constructivism: preferences shaped in interaction,
socialisation (Political Sociology)
Normative approch of political
philosophy: Who should rule?
Aristotle: danger of a tyranny of the majority
Bodin: defence of absolutism
Hobbes: Leviathan: unconstrained rule
Locke: in favor of constitutional
• Montesquieu: system of checks and balances
Empirical approach of European
integration theories
• Which factors drive the integration process?
– Which actors are the most important ones?
(intergovernmentalism vs. Supranationalism)
– What shapes their preferences? (rationalist vs.
Constructivist approaches)
– How is the interaction constrained? (bargaining
power, agenda setting, role of norms ...)
Introduction to Political Sciences
Session 3
The State
Rival Thories of the State
• Pluralist view: neutral arbiter
• Marxist view (Capitalist state): instrument of
the ruling class
• The Leviathan state: growing intervention into
society as a result of internal dynamics
• Patriachal State: similiar to Marxist view –
state as a reflection of the power structure in
society, “a mens’ world”
Role of the state
Minimal states
Development states
Social democratic states
Collectivised states
Totalitarian states
Has the state lost power in recent
• Globalisation
– Competition leads to pressure to cut corporate
taxes and wages
– Regional integration (EU) leads to less autonomy
in fiscal, monetary policy, but regional integration
also a means to regain power (pooled sovereignty)
• Substate governance
– Pressure for decentralisation
– But: public-private partnership can lead to better
solutions (complexity of modern societies9
Introduction to Political Sciences
Session 4
Political Ideologies
What is an ideology?
• Definition: set of ideas, blueprint for action
• Categorisation: Central question: What is the
proper role of the state?
– State interference in economy
– State inference in private life
Main ideologies
• What was the historical context of the
evolution of a certain ideology?
• What are the main ideas of the different
• Illustration: Be able to apply our matrix to
contempory debates about the proper role of
the state