POLS1009 Tutorial Readings
Terms in this set (47)
Week 2 Title
1977. "Clouds, Clocks, and the Study of Politics." World Politics
Week 2 Research Aim/Question
This is not a typical research paper. Rather, this is a paper that is focused on how political science is done, writ large. It seeks to raise concerns about how well the research strategy of the "hard" sciences can be applied to human subjects.
Translation: Research in the social sciences is hard because people suck. We should be careful about applying methods from other fields without first seriously interrogating whether we really measuring what we think we are measuring.
Week 2 DV
What this paper is trying to explain is: why has political science become obsessed with finding "covering laws". That is why is it obsessed with finding generalised explanations for everything and obsessed with causation.
Week 2 IV
(1) developments in the philosophy of science (I note that this paper is from the 1970s, and this discussion is now out of date).
(2) the influence of other disciplines on political science, like biology, psychology and economics.
(3) the role of ideas - that is a belief amongst political scientists in the US that this it the right and proper way to make progress in understanding politics, and that older ideas (old institutionalism) should be sidelined.
Week 2 Method
The paper uses Popper's metaphor of thinking about politics as Clocks and Cloud, where Clocks represent the most precise phenomena and clouds are fuzzy and indeterminate.
Ultimately the authors argue that politics is really a third alternative, "a system of plastic controls", because, politics consists of ideas-human decisions, goals, purposes-in constant and intense interaction with other ideas, human behaviour, and the physical world."
Week 2 The Argument
1. social realty/ political reality is too complex to be properly measured and understood by the hard sciences.
2. These research strategies have only limited application in the social sciences
3. because " Models, procedures, and methodologies created to explore a world in which clocklike and cloudlike characteristics predominate will capture only a part of the much richer world of social and political interaction"
4. Quantitative methods and Rational Choice approaches are too reductionist and deterministic.
5. In simplifying they loose too much of context and complexity so their explanations are either trivial or unsatisfying.
6. Put another way, they reduce our capacity to truly know about the political world
7. We shouldn't stop using quantitative methods or Rational choice methods, but we must also continue to use them in conjunction with the "traditional" methods of politics - that is qualitative methods that investigate institutions.
Week 3 Title
2009. "Legislative Versus Judicial Checks and Balances: Comparing Rights Policies Across Regimes." Australian Journal of Political Science
Week 3 Research Aim/Question
The aim of the research was to determine which system is better in producing moderate policy to protect the rights of the citizen.
Week 3 DV
Moderate policy outcomes
Week 3 IV
Bills of Rights vs. Legislative Approaches
The analysis was done by comparing case studies of the legislative and judicial processes surrounding Same Sex marriage , Prisoner voting in Canada and Australia.
Week 3 Method
Comparative method - most similar (case selection: Canada and Australia).
Week 3 The Argument
Canada and Australia have institutionalized two different and longstanding streams of modern liberal-democrat constitutionalism: one embracing enhanced judicial power under a constitutional bill of rights, whereas the other (Aus) resists.
Reasonable disagreement about moderate policy outcomes: based on the evidence no conclusive proof
Week 4 Title
(2016) 'Assessing the Composition and Diversity of the Australian Interest Group System'. Australian Journal of Public Administration.
Week 4 Research Aim/Question
Explores the composition and diversity of the Australian interest group system; aims to generate a map of the system: 'How big is the system and what is the balance among different types of interests? How effective are interest groups at representing a variety of public and private interests?'
Week 4 Variables
This paper seeks to describe the interest group system and provide a comprehensive dataset for future use rather than test relationships between variables.
Week 4 Method and Argument
- Uses 2012 Directory of Australian Associations to quantify the group system and provide an analysis of the size, composition and diversity of the Australian interest group system
- Such quantification provides a well-compiled data set that is a good proxy for the population at large, for use in future research
- Business and professional associations are most numerous, but also observed considerable organisational capacity in trade union and hybrid sectors
- Reason for concern about lack of voice for less privileged groups
Week 5 Title
(2000) Packin' in the Hood?: Examining Assumptions of Concealed-Handgun Research, Social Science Quarterly.
Week 5 Research Aim/Question
Do concealed-handgun permits reduce violent crime rates?
Week 5 Theoretical Basis
ests rational choice assumptions advanced by advocates of concealed-handgun permits:
o Concealed-handguns should be a deterrent to crime because criminals should be less likely to attempt violent crime if they know their potential victims may have guns
o Those who apply for permits should be most at risk of violent crime (the 'at-risk assumption'), since they should be most likely to want to defend themselves
Week 5 Prior Research
• Most comprehensive prior study finds concealed-handgun laws result in violent-crime deterrence
• Past research relies on large geographic divisions for units of analysis (counties in the most influential study) to assess the relationship between concealed-weapon permits and violent crime. It assumes crime and permits are more-or-less consistent across the geographical unit (the 'aggregation assumption')
Week 5 Data and Methods
• Uses zip-code level data from Dallas
o Zip-code level to test aggregation assumption (more detailed than county-level)
o Dallas because it is a large, heterogeneous metropolitan centre that allows concealed-handgun permits
• Series of Chi-2 tests
o Between permits per capita and violent crime rates
o Between permits per capita and per capita demographic characteristics (ethnicity, education and income)
Week 5 Findings and Implications
• A very small portion of the population has concealed-weapon permits, and they are not distributed randomly at the county level (evidence against aggregation assumption)
• Permit holders are overwhelmingly white males and reside in areas with little violent crime (evidence against at-risk assumption)
• Those areas with high violent crime rates are the least likely to also contain a high number of residents with permits (evidence against both assumptions)
• While permits may or may not deter crime, most permits are held where crime is not a big issue. This calls into question how much these permits actually affect the crime rate.
Week 7 Title
(2015) "Explaining the Cold War's end: Process tracing all the way down?" in Process Tracing: From Method to Analytic tool.
Week 7 Research Aim/Question
This research was focused on the overall puzzle of what caused the end of the cold war?
The research aim was two fold:
1. Given there are competing explanations for its end - (1) realist/ materialist explanations or (2) other approaches favoring ideas, the soviet actors pushing "new thinking" (ideational) (3) Coalition-politics approaches, empathising the role of soviet sectors like the military or intelligentsia and (4) Cognitive psychological approaches focused on lesson learning by important actors (in the military, Gorbachev himself) - what happens when we begin or end our research with different start and end points?
2. This was a methods paper, and the heart of the question related to showing that process tracing is probably the most powerful method for resolving theoretical disputes, regardless of precisely when one dates the "dependent variable."
3. Illustrate the method
Week 7 Variables
• DV - What caused the end of the cold war?
• IVs - the economy, institutions (eg. soviet military) ideas, learning, key actors (eg. Gorbachev and Reagan), personality traits
Week 7 Data and Methods
• Method: Qualitative: Process Tracing: Process tracing is a tool of qualitative analysis. It is an approach to causal inferences, which examines individual cases using qualitative evidence- or causal process observations- to assess various explanations for an outcome. It is useful in determining whether or not the results are consistent with the theory.
• The data is primarily archival, but there are elements of interviews and secondary sources (the accounts of other historians)
Week 7 Argument, Findings, Implications
• Evangelista examined a key event in the end of the Cold War:
o Mikhail Gorbachev's 1988 declaration of "freedom of choice" for the states of Eastern Europe and the substantial unilateral reduction and restructuring of Soviet armed forces that made the declaration credible
o He found it yields no definitive answer to the competiting claims outlined above.
• Rather he argued: the cold war is not just one event (one data point); it's actually made up of multiple events that we can examine test rival theoreatical claims
• By, breaking down a big event like the cold war into smaller events, it reveals multiple, overlapping processes contributing to the end of the cold war
• When we investigate explanations, this means identifying their underlying mechanisms. This reveals (and does in this case) that several mechanisms can account for the same events - the problem of equifinality
• Finally: process tracing both backwards and forwards is a useful method for evaluating the competing theoretical explanations
Week 8 Title
2017. "The Challenges of Transitioning from Opposition to Government: Liberal Party Planning for Government 1983 - 1996." Australian Journal of Politics & History
Week 8 Research Aim/Question
Do oppositions plan for transition to government, and if so, how?
Week 8 Theoretical Basis
Historical institutionalism: institutions such as shadow cabinets and party organisations have an important role in transitions, as does the Australian Public Service (APS).
Week 8 Prior Research
• Prior research emphasises the role of incoming prime ministers as key actors
• Canadian transitions, which are more formalized and less party-centric than in Australia
• Prior research on the Liberal Party of Australia's (LPA) processes find there is less planning than the Australian Labor Party (ALP)
Week 8 Variables
• DV (the thing being explained) - Party planning, why it happens or doesn't happen
• IVs (the factors impacting the outcome) - role of actors, time in opposition, interaction between institutions, role of ideas
Week 8 Data and Methods
• Case is Australia from 1983-1996: LPA's planning during that period, with some analysis of the ALP's transition
• Archival data: Facing the Facts and Forward Planning Group (FPG) documents, Fightback! report, papers of party officials and parliamentarians, reports, seminars
• Interview data: interviews with parliamentarians and party officials
Week 8 Findings and Implications
• While party leaders are important, other structures and decision groups (i.e. party committees, party organizations) also matter. These other structures have more impact than previously acknowledged.
• The major differences between the parties lay in managing power
o ALP concerned with how caucus and cabinet would manage power
o LPA: concerned with reshaping government to increase cabinet's executive capacity and fulfil its ideological goals
• The work of the FPG and Facing the Facts informed the Coalitions' policy for the APS at the 1984 election, as well as what the Howard government did when elected. This demonstrates their planning had an impact.
Week 9 Title
(2010) Learning to be a Minister
Week 9 Research Question
This chapter did not contain an explicit research question. It was, however, part of a longer book, so the guiding question might have been articulated earlier. The chapter instead studied a phenomenon - of opposition parties 'moving into government'.
It was interested in the experience of those undergoing the transition: what were the difficulties involved, what were the lessons learned, and did the Labor Party's 2007 attempt differ from the previous Howard government?
Week 9 Variables
In a similar vein, this chapter did not contain explicit independent and dependent variables. Parts of it, however, did implicitly build on a comparative logic.
For instance, the chapter was interested in explaining (DV) factors impacting transitions of power. They did this by comparing Labor and Liberal transition to power, testing how successful these transitions were - implicitly judged by (IVs) smoothness, efficiency, number of mistakes etc.
But with a small number of case studies and many other potentially relevant factors, it was very difficult to 'control' for external variables in a strict sense.
Week 9 Method and Argument
The chapter primarily contained interviews with political elites directly involved in the process of governmental transition. This included members of the federal parliamentary Labor Party, particularly cabinet ministers learning new portfolios, but also senior public servants and former Liberal government ministers.
The authors used anonymous quotes, in order to draw out more open and honest responses. The chapter then collated these answer around a series of themes, attempting to capture some of the most important dilemmas involved in a transition. While the chapter did not attempt a clear argument, but it did suggest a number of claims: namely that Labor's process was more premeditated and less jarring than the Howard government's - a perhaps questionable claim, in light of Rudd's fate and later assertions made by his close peers in cabinet.
Week 10 Title
1993. Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis." Discourse & Society
Week 10 Research Aim/Question
This article identified a number of questions, which each sought to illustrate and explain 'critical discourse analysis'. These included: 'what is critical discourse analyses, 'how is it different to other types of discourse analysis', and 'what are its aims, special methods, and especially what is its theoretical foundation?'
Week 10 Variables
Unlike more conventional forms of social science, this chapter did not present a dependent and independent variable, and then attempt to understand the relationship between the two. It openly rejected the pretence of neutrality - instead taking an 'explicit socio-political stance'. In some ways, the research process was reversed. The author began with a proposition - that society is riven by power imbalances and inequalities, in this case racial - and then attempted to reveal how it exists in the world, particularly the way it is framed and maintained by language.
Week 10 Method
The article then examined two parliamentary debates from the early 1990s. The first involved a cross-national sample of arguments around immigration; the second involved a debate about race and education in British Parliament. The article then employed an in-depth linguistic analysis of one particular House of Commons speech - by Mr Marcus Fox - to show how 'racism is being reproduced in western societies through parliamentary discourse'. It argued that 'although seldom blatantly racist, such more or less 'moderate' discourse may nonetheless enact white group power ... while at the same time manipulating the public mind in such a way that ethnocentric or racist policies can be legitimated'. As an 'unabashedly normative' work, the paper was designed to reveal these linguistic processes - and by doing so confront them.
Week 11 Title
(2014). Gender, political cross participation and electoral systems: A ‐national analysis, European Journal of Political Research.
Week 11 Research Question
How do electoral systems shape gender gaps in political participation?
Week 11 Variables
IV: Electoral system (measured by number of parties in legislature, coalition size, district magnitude, level of disproportionality)
DV: Gender gap in political participation (measured by 'persuading others to vote for a candidate' and 'support for a party of candidate')
Controls: education, employment status, marital status, age, political efficacy, partisanship
Week 11 Method and Argument
Quantitative cross-national analysis, using Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and European Journal of Political Research Political Data Yearbook
- Hypothesis 1: More proportional electoral system should be associated with smaller gender gaps
- Hypothesis 2: More proportional electoral system should be associated with larger gender gaps
Week 11 Findings and Implications
- Results lend little support for the first hypothesis, but a greater confirmation for the second.
- Overall, the results show that the electoral system contributes to the understanding of gender differences in political participation. Women and men respond differently to incentives and/or barriers imposed by the electoral system, which in turn affects their levels of political participation
- the results suggest that increases in political engagement under more proportional electoral systems may not be enough for women to participate in politics at similar levels to men.