PS1114 Democratic politics and the State
What is politics and the political process?
Alternative definitions of 'politics' (for example, the competitive struggle for control of the state applicants, the expression of group identities, and the relations between states) and the mechanisms by which they operate.
The state under liberal democracy
- 'the state' as a modern political form of exercising authority; and
- liberal democracy as a combination of majority rule
- and the protection of civil liberties.
The recent emergence of liberal democracy as the dominant form of government in modern countries.
Classical views: Pluralism, Conservatism, Elitism and Marxism
Introduction to the 'classical' (nineteenth and early twentieth century) theories of the state, government and politics. Difference approaches are illustrated using the core political ideas of John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Friedrich Hayek, Roberto Michels and Vilfredo Pareto.
The contemporary liberal democratic state and modern pluralism.
Shifts in the pluralist theory of the state from the 1960s to the twenty-first century. Differences in the development of pluralist thought in Europe and the USA. The application of this model to other countries will be examined. Particular emphasis on the ideas of Robert Dahl and Michael Walzer.
Limits to democracy I: the new Right and neo-conservatism
New right theories see some key factors as inhibiting the effective operation of liberal democracy - state regulation coarsening market processes and state growth undermining free enterprise. Modern neo-Conservate thought points to a lack of moral codes and social norms as eroding the stability of democracy. The works of William Niskanen, Robert Putname and Samuel Huntington will be examined.
Limits to democracy II: feminism, environmentalism and globalization
Exploration of the limits of liberal democracy in three alternative theories of the state. Feminist theorists' focus on the differential political development, power and influence of males versus females, Green theorists' arguments that the liberal democratic state has failed to halt the degradation of the world environment. Globalization theorists' contention that power has shifted away from democratically-controlled nation-states to a range of global networks. Particular emphasis on the ideas of Carole Pateman, John Dryzek and David Held.
Limits to democracy III: modern elite theory and neo-Marxism.
Comparison of the modern elite view that liberal democracy is faced, behind which the State is controlled by a monied and educated elite, with the neo-Marxist position that capitalist economic development promotes a partial and fundamentally flawed form of democracy. The political ideas of Noam Chomsky and Klaus Offe are examined.