Introduction to Political Sciences

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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
nation
• 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?
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Aristotle: danger of a tyranny of the majority
Bodin: defence of absolutism
Hobbes: Leviathan: unconstrained rule
Locke: in favor of constitutional
government/republicanism
• 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
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Minimal states
Development states
Social democratic states
Collectivised states
Totalitarian states
Has the state lost power in recent
times?
• 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
ideologies?
• Illustration: Be able to apply our matrix to
contempory debates about the proper role of
the state