1.Politics

What is politics?

Week 1

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the sources of political socialization
  • Understand the range of media available to keep you informed of current events
  • Understand the social construction of definitions and concepts
  • Differentiate power from authority
  • Identify the concept of legitimacy
  • Confirm assignments and seminars
  • test
  • test1

Class coordinators

Dr Last

Introduction

We will begin the course with a short digression on political socialization.  The dictum “know yourself” is a good place to start.  We all have our biases and pre-dispositions as a result of our experience and upbringing, and these serve as filters to our understanding and interpretation of the world around us. We cannot consider ideologies without understanding that these systematic belief systems, so important to political life and actions, are deeply ingrained in each of us from an early age.  Notwithstanding your careful selection and rigorous socialization at RMC, each of you is a complex amalgam of prior beliefs and expectations.  So we’ll start with sources of your own socialization, and then move on the media that inform you, before we discuss:

  • definitions of politics and political science
  • social science and disciplines
  • power
  • authority
  • legitimacy
  • coercion and force
  • violence

Learning objectives

  • Describe the sources of political socialization
  • Understand the range of media available to keep you informed of current events
  • Understand the social construction of definitions and concepts
  • Differentiate power from authority
  • Identify the concept of legitimacy
  • Confirm assignments and seminars

Required readings

Definitions of politics

Tremblay, ch.1

Scott, ch.5, and “to the student” see skills.

Optional readings

It is a good idea to skim through the whole of each of your textbooks – start with the table of contents, then go to the back and look at references and the index.  What sort of book titles are included?  Which are the most common publishers amongst the references? (And why do you want to know?)

Assignment

We will discuss your two assignments.

Self-assessment questions

  1. What can we learn from the evolving definition of words like “politics”?
  2. What do you have to do for this course every week?
  3. What are your assignment marks based on?
  4. When will you begin work on your assignments?
  5. Define and explain the significance of political power.
  6. Define and explain the significance of legitimate authority.
  7. Is legitimacy an absolute or relative phenomenon?

Activities

Weekly activities can be adjusted by class coordinators in consultation with the professor

Week 1 checklist of material

[1] Introduction from class coordinator – time allocation

[2] Current events of political significance (domestic, international) [60s]

[3] Review/amend focus of learning objectives  [5D]

[4] Key terms [5D, GLI]

[5] Mapping the Political Landscape [5D, GLI]

[6] External resources [class coordinator]

[7] Exam questions [5D, GLI]

[8] Looking ahead: next week’s class coordinator introduces (last 15 minutes)

Next up

Can politics be studied scientifically? How do we do that effectively?

David Last, updated September 2016