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2022 Spring

POLITICS I - POS101/2 Spring 2022

Jacob Maze
For information about registration please contact our admissions.


Here is the course outline:

1. Lesson One: Class Information + "What is Politics?"

Feb 7

In this session, we will first review the syllabus and address any questions or comments the students may have (this pertains to first recorded lecture on this section about the course structure). After this, we will have an introductory discussion about the meaning of key terms, such as “politics,” “government,” “political system” and “governance,” which will rely on the difference between a “concept” and a “conception.”

2. Lesson Two: "Democracy and the Main Ideologies: Liberalism, Socialism, Conservatism"

Feb 14

In this lesson, we will deal with some of the most prominent concepts in political science: democracy, liberalism, socialism and conservatism. It will begin by a basic overview of the function of the state, largely rooted in populations, territory, legitimacy and sovereignty. From this, we introduce democracy in terms of its limits: which features constitute a democracy and which do not? Using the concepts of democracy and state dealt with thus far, we will move onto discussions on what constitutes a political ideology in this context. This will lead to the introduction and elaboration on the different key political ideologies and their various forms: liberalism, socialism, conservatism.

3. Lesson Three: "Consensual and Majoritarian (Westminster) Democracies"

Feb 21

In this lecture, we will address the common differences between consensual and majoritarian democracies. This will begin by outlining what Lijphart defines as the “executives-parties” dimension and the “federal-unitary dimension.” After these are adequately defined, we will move on to deal first with majoritarian democracies, giving some examples to illustrate. Finally, we’ll introduce consensual democracies, giving further examples to illustrate these differences and similarities.

4. Lesson Four: "Constitutions and the Role of the Judiciary"

Feb 28

We begin this lecture with a simple question: What is a Constitution? Why are they important for modern states? Once the importance of constitutions has been addressed, we can move onto the role that the judiciary plays in politics (as distinguished from the legislative and executive powers discussed in the previous lecture). What is meant by “rule of law,” and whose job is it to judge and interpret such laws? What are the central facets of the judiciary branch of government? Once these basics have been set out, we can now contextualize the process of constitution writing, emphasizing the political circumstances that go into these texts (which will rely more heavily on the Dekelbaum reading); this gives a good segue to the seminar portion of the lecture.

5. Lesson Five: "Political Regimes: Autocracy, Democracy, Hybrid Regimes"

Mar 7

We will begin this lecture by laying out the role of “power” in political regimes. What are the dimensions of power? This will allow us to introduce the concepts of “authority” and “legitimacy” in relation to our discussion on power. Now that we have the framework, we can move on to different types of democratic rule (direct, representative, liberal), the parameters of autocratic regimes and the facets that make a hybrid regime unique. Finally, Arendt’s distinction between authoritarianism and totalitarianism will be introduced, which will be drawn out more in the seminar discussion.

6. Lesson Six: Presidential, Semi-Presidential and Parliamentary Systems

Mar 8

We will begin by laying out the fundamentals for discussing this topic: legislative (deliberation, legislation, oversight) and executive branches. From this, we can discuss the main features of legislatures, which can be discussed in terms of a presidential, semi-presidential or parliamentary system. What are the qualities of each (e.g., presidents, prime ministers, ministers, cabinets)? This allows me to eleaborate on the two key takeaways from the readings: (a) is semi-presidentialism a serious form of governance, and (b) how can the relationships of the legislative and executive branch function to dominate one branch or check their powers?

7. Lesson Seven: Mid-Term

Mar 14

Students will be administered the mid-term exam.

8. Lesson Eight: "Electoral Systems"

Mar 21

We will begin this lecture by first discussing the possible functions of an electoral system and how to determine the success of an election (widely accepted, non-interference, no sore losers). What is an electoral formula, and how does it help us understand electoral representation? What relations are formed between a citizen and a government in an election? What are first-order and second-order elections, and how do these apply to the elections of legislatures as well as presidents? Finally, we will move on to discuss the purposes of political campaigns and referendums as well as elections under authoritarian regimes. Now that we have a general understanding of electoral systems, we can briefly introduce Lijphart’s seven attributes by which we can judge proportional representation in a given electoral system. Are these good qualities? Does he leave anything out? This should lead to a fruitful discussion in the seminar discussion.

9. Lesson Nine: "Party Politics: Party Families and Systems"

Mar 28

In this lecture, we will begin by discussing the features of a political party. We will discuss the history of political parties and how they came into place historically. After this, we will discuss the four party distinctions Heywood mentions (cadre/mass, representative/integrative, constitutional/revolutionary and left-wing/right-wing). What are the main functions of a political party (representation, elite formation and recruitment, goal formulation, interest articulation and aggregation, socialization and mobilization, organization of government)? What are party systems (one-party, two-party, dominant-party and multiparty)? If these are the problematic components of political parties and party systems, are political parties worth saving?

10. Lesson Ten: "Social Movements and Interests Groups"

Apr 4

In this lecture, we will be introducing forms of political groups or movements that largely lie outside the limits of the state apparatus. What are interest groups? What function do they play in democratic settings? What is the difference between protective and promotional interest groups? What type of interest groups are there (economic, public, professional, single-issue, religious, government, institutional)? What is corporatism, and what risks does it entail? How do interest groups communicate with formal political entities (directly through policy makers, indirectly through political parties or public opinion)? How are social movements different from interest groups? How do democracy and social movements affect one another? How does mobilization play out differently for interest groups and social movements?

11. Lesson Eleven: "Political Economy"

Apr 11

We will begin this lecture very basically by laying out what is meant by political economy. What is the relationship between politics and economy? How is political economy different from a political ideology? What are the predominant strands of political economy (state-centric, classical/neo-classical, Marxist)? How did these each develop historically? What is a capitalist system, and how do each of these in turn affect political decision-making in terms of enterprise capitalism, social capitalism and state capitalism, respectively? Keynesianism versus neoliberalism.

12. Lesson Twelve: "Current Challenges to Democracy: Populism"

Apr 12

What is populism? We hear it a lot in the news and media, but how can we define it? What is the difference between elitism and populism? Why does populism pose such a risk to democratic societies, and why have we seen a rise in populist discourse in Western democracies? What aspects of democracy provide space for populism to be nurtured and fostered? The opposite of populism: pluralism. The development of populism in modern cultures. What does Mudde mean when he talks about a “popular zeitgeist?”

13. Lesson Thirteen: "Other Ideological Traditions (Fascism, Anarchism, Feminism, Environmentalism, R...

Apr 18

This lecture is not meant to be exhaustive but rather to introduce students to some final key ideologies prevalent in political science and politics at large today. This will be mostly covered in the lecture, where I will simply outline the fundamentals and impact of these various streams of thought. However, most of the discussion is intended to review for the final exam, and thus this lecture may seem slightly more isolated than the others. Nonetheless, the beginning of the discussion seminar will deal with any issues students may have had with this reading and the recorded lecture.

14. Lesson Fourteen: "Final Exam"

Apr 25

Students will be administered the final exam.

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