Terms in this set (118)
Meritocratic theory of justice
Advocates distributing resources to those who display some merit, such as innate ability, and therefore deserve to be rewarded.
A position, associated with John Stuart Mill, that actions are to be allowed unless the effect of them is to harm others.
This concept, sometimes called a 'grand narrative', refers to a total philosophy or historical explanation of the social and political world presented as an ultimate truth.
A device used by a number of political thinkers, most recently John Rawls, to justify a particular form of state. It is conceived as a voluntary agreement that individuals make in a state of nature, which is a society before government is set up.
Describes states where competitive elections are held but in which there is relatively little protection of rights and liberties, and state control over the means of communication ensures that governing parties are rarely ever defeated at the polls.
A term coined by Robert Dahl, the American political scientist. It refers to a society where government outcomes are a product of the competition between groups. The rule of minorities, not majorities, is postulated as the normal condition of pluralist democracies.
The principle that governments are formed by prime ministers, rather than heads of state, who are primarily responsible to parliament.
Groups of politicians, officials, and outside experts who regularly formulate government policy in particular issue areas to the exclusion of wider social groups.
Refers to a form of large-scale mass-production that is homogeneous both in terms of the products made and also in terms of the repetitive jobs that came with it.
Law conceived as both universal and eternal, applying to all people in all places and at all times, because it derives either from 'nature' or God as distinct from local laws arising within specific communities.
A multi-faceted theoretical approach which challenges the certainties and dualisms of modernism. It therefore promotes pluralism and difference.
The view that there are no fundamental divisions in phenomena.
Refers to analysis which asks ought rather than is type questions, therefore forming the basis of political philosophy. It does not seek to ask, therefore, whether democracy, or freedom, or a pluralist state exists, but whether these outcomes are desirable ones.
The conclusion by the French political scientist Maurice Duverger that first-past-the-post electoral systems lead to two-party systems
In social science literature denotes the fact of something happening or existing because of an actor's action. The contrast is with a state of affairs that is chiefly determined by impersonal factors (historical, economic, etc.) over which human actors have little control. Hence the frequent use of the combined term structure-agency to pose the question whether background factors or human action were the primary causes.
Arrow's impossibility theorem
A mathematical theorem formulated by the economist Kenneth Arrow which shows the impossibility of determining the 'optimal' ranking of preferences by members of a society when no alternative choice receives an absolute majority.
A concept, associated with Rousseau, which holds that the state ought to promote an altruistic morality rather than the selfish interests of individuals.
Originated as a normative argument against monism or sameness. In political theory it is most associated with atheory of the state which holds that political power is diffuse, all organized groups having some influence on state outputs. In IR it is associated with one of two main approaches adopted by the 'English School' as well as with neoliberal theory which highlights the multiplicity, or plurality, of forces at work in the international system.
A means whereby the elites of different parts of a heterogeneous community can share power and integrate society.
A view of politics associated with realism and which generally takes morality and justice to be irrelevant to the conduct of international relations, a view predicated in turn on the notion that 'might is right'.
Balance of power
A system of relations between states where the goal is to maintain an equilibrium of power, thus preventing the dominance of any one state.
A form of legal theory that asserts that law is what the state says it is.
A concept in International Relations, developed principally in realist thought, in which the condition of anarchy is seen to prompt states to engage in self-regarding behaviour in order to survive. The dilemma arises when efforts by one state to enhance its own security (such as acquiring superior weaponry) provokes insecurity in another state, which may then respond by building up its own military capacity.
A strand of thought which argues that individuals gain their rights and duties within particular communities. It is often contrasted with cosmopolitanism.
An approach which believes it is possible to generate empirical statements without any evaluative connotations. At an extreme level, the so-called logical positivists argue that only empirical statements, together with those that are true by definition, are meaningful, thereby ruling out the value of normative statements.
The practice, often associated with conservatism, of restricting the liberty of individuals in order to benefit them.
The exaltation of family interests above all other moral considerations, originally coined by the sociologist Banfield to describe social relations in Sicily.
Refers to the task of establishing what can be known about what exists.
Relates to what exists. It asks what is there to know? Is there, for instance, a political world out there capable of being observed or is the reality, to at least some degree, created by the meanings or ideas we impose upon it?
Refers to the measurement of factual information, of what is rather than what ought to be.
Refers to male domination and corresponding female oppression.
A term often preferred now to government since it reflects the broader nature of modern government which includes not just the traditional institutions of government but also the other inputs into decisions that steer society such as sub-national and supra-national institutions, the workings of the market, and the role of interest groups.
Denotes a complex array of theories and ideas in the human sciences, especially philosophy, sociology, politics and International Relations. In the latter, it names a general approach to theory which takes power politics, national interest, and similar concepts as foundational to action in the international sphere, and opposes idealism in liberal and critical theories.
Sometimes called social constructivism, it refers to the notion that the 'reality' of the world around us is constructed intersubjectively through social interaction which gives meaning to material objects and practices; thus 'reality' is not simply an objective truth detached from a social base.
Occurs when a country's president comes from one party and the prime minister from a different one.
Emphasizes that the state's role should be limited to ensure internal and external security and to ensure that private property rights are enforced.
Looser groups of officials and outsiders who regularly share ideas in particular policy areas.
The insulation of state economic policy-makers in developmental states from short-term political pressures.
The distribution of goods according to a set of rules, irrespective of the outcome.
An approach that stresses the importation of the scientific method in the study of social phenomena. Objective measurement of the social world is the goal, values to be completely jettisoned from social enquiry.
A seventeenth- and eighteenth-century intellectual and cultural movement that emphasized the application of reason to knowledge in a search for human progress.
The complex of relations between a state's governing institutions and the people, including the understandings that are involved. Most of these relations are usually codified in a single document.
A temporal and cultural phenomenon linked not only to the rise of industrialization in Europe and North America but also to profound changes in social and political thought which are closely associated with the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment.
An ethical theory which holds that certain end states (as in the case of a natural right) are to be upheld because they are right in themselves, irrespective of the consequences which accrue from them in particular circumstances.
A position which holds that humans ought to be regarded as a single moral community to which universal principles apply irrespective of national boundaries.
Concert of Europe
Term used to designate a largely informal agreement among the major powers of nineteenth century Europe to act together - or 'concert' together - on matters of mutual concern. It emerged following the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) and was manifest principally in irregular diplomatic meetings and conferences aimed at the peaceful resolution of differences.
The principle that within a state different territorial units have the authority to make certain policies without interference from the centre.
A theory which holds that liberty can be increased either by state action or by removing internal obstacles such as immorality or irrationality.
Refers to self-government either at the level of the individual or at the level of the state. To say a state is sovereign is to claim that it has a monopoly of force over the people and institutions in a given territorial area.
A family of voting systems that make their highest priority a close approximation between the votes given to all the parties putting up candidates and the number of seats into which this is translated in parliament.
A model of democracy emphasizing the role of discussion and debate as a means of reaching rational, legitimate, and altruistic decisions.
An ethic which prioritizes the interests of humans over all other forms of life.
Who wrote that the state is an institution which claims 'a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in enforcing order within a given territorial area'?
According to political pluralists, the proper role of the state is to...
adjudicate between the claims of freely-competing groups.
A key figure in the development of pluralism is...
The most potent criticism of classical pluralism is that...
the theory is naive, because some groups are much more influential than others.
Robert Michels claimed to have discovered...
an 'Iron Law of Oligarchy'.
C. Wright Mills and James Burnham argued that...
elite rule in some form is very difficult to avoid.
New Right theorizing on the state suggests that...
...interference with the free market is counterproductive. politicians have a tendency to bribe voters with generous tax-funded benefits. bureaucrats are self-interested like everyone else.
A classic method of investigating the role of the state is...
social contract theory.
Differences between the social contract theories of Hobbes and Locke reflect the fact that...
Hobbes had a more pessimistic view of human nature and much more sceptical religious ideas.
The Utilitarian (or 'Greatest Happiness') philosophy is most intimately associated with...
Totalitarian regimes typically depend...
on a mixture of power and authority, with more of the former than the latter.
Most conservatives believe that...
whatever its origin, authority is necessary because people need to be led and protected.
Many liberals believe that...
power is usually undesirable because it limits the freedom of the individual. power always tends to corrupt those who hold it, at least to some degree. in certain circumstances (e.g. the abolition of slavery) the exercising of power is legitimate.
Michel Foucault argued that...
power is inherent in all social relations, and is, therefore, impossible to eradicate even though its abuses should always be attacked.
On Max Weber's classification, modern governments are increasingly dependent on...
the recognized authority of certain offices of state.
What is Stephen Lukes's classic definition of power?
A exercises power over B when A affects B in a manner contrary to B's interests.
According to Bachrach and Baratz, 'non-decision making' is...
he ability of powerful groups to prevent certain issues from being discussed.
It is problematic to argue that people can be made to act against their real interests because...
'real' interests are subjective and open to endless contestation.
The Marxist critique of power in capitalist societies...
assumes that powerful economic interests enjoy dominance in decision-making. argues that ordinary people are taught to think that the interests of powerful economic groups are identical to their own self-interest. focuses on the outcomes of decisions rather than the way in which they are made.
Typically, Marxist structuralists argue that...
even well-intentioned capitalists are forced by the logic of the system to exploit their workers.
What is the term used to denote regimes which manipulate the electoral process in various ways, without resorting to blatant vote-rigging?
Which of these is a defining characteristic of democracy?
That rulers are directly accountable to the ruled on a regular basis.
Direct democracy is the system in which...
citizens represent themselves in the decision-making process.
in ancient Greece.
In democratic Athens, which of the following groups were not allowed to participate in politics?
Slaves. Women. Foreigners.
Powerful theoretical backing for democracy was provided by...
Joseph Schumpeter argued that...
the democratic process should be understood as a competition between rival elites.
Deliberative democracy involves...
extensive public debate before politicians take decisions.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that...
the general will is superior to the selfish interests of individuals.
The main argument of cosmopolitan democracy is that...
in the contemporary world, it is essential that global forces are brought under democratic control.
What is Politics?
Harold Lasswell (1936) "Who gets what, when and how?"
Is Politics synonymous with the state?
Is politics an inevitable feature of all societies?
Distinguish between normative and empirical analysis in the study of political theory.
Can politics be a science?
Should politics be seen in a positive light?
What is the case for defining politics narrowly?
How can we evaluate between competing normative claims?
Evaluate the claims made by inductive and deductive approaches to political studies.
Politics is generally disparaged as an activity which is shrinking in importance and relevance' (Andrew Gamble). Discuss.
What is the state?
Can we do without the state?
Compare and contrast the pluralist, elitist, and Marxist theories of the state.
How far does the American political system exhibit the characteristics of the pluralist theory of the state?
Critically examine the Marxist theory of the state
Which normative theory of the state do you find most convincing?
Does the social disorder in Britain confirm the validity of Hobbe's theory of the state?
How effective is the communitarian critique of liberalism?
In the light of 9/11, the financial crisis, and the growing threat of climate change, the New Right theory of the sate is a seriously flawed. Discuss.
Are the state's days numbered?
What is the difference between power and authority?
Is the exercise of power inevitable?
Must power always be exercised deliberately?
Is power the same as force?
Is power as thought control a viable concept?
How important is the fact that most political elites in a country such as Britain have similar educational backgrounds?
Is economic inequality a product of the exercise of power?
What is democracy?
Is it possible to reconcile elitism with democracy?
Is democracy special?
Are we obliged to obey decision taken democratically?
Why should we obey the state?
Critically examine the economic theory of democracy
Is democracy consistent with a class-divided society?
Discuss the relationship between democracy and majority rule.
Is cosmopolitan democracy possible and desirable?
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