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Chapter

This chapter deals with the first step of the research process: the formulation of a well-crafted research question. It explains why political research should begin with a research question and how a research question structures the research process. It discusses the difference between a topic or general question, on the one hand, and a focused research question, on the other. It also considers the question of where to find and how to formulate research questions, the various types of questions scholars ask, and the role of the ‘literature review’ as a source and rationale for research questions. Finally, it describes a tool called the ‘research vase’ that provides a visualization of the research process, along with different types of questions: descriptive, explanatory, predictive, prescriptive, and normative.

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This chapter examines a range of contemporary ideologies which challenge the traditional ones identified in ~Chapter 5. They differ from traditional ideologies in a number of ways. They are, first, less optimistic about the ability of ideologies to construct an overarching explanation of the world, not surprisingly since they emerged in the aftermath of the catastrophic impact of some traditional ideologies. They also respect difference and variety. This is a product of social and economic change which has eroded the ‘Fordist’ economy, brought into being a number of powerful identity groups based on gender, culture, and ethnicity, and raised question marks over the environmental sustainability of current industrial practices. Two modern political currents – postmodernism and populism – are considered and it is questioned whether they can be properly described as ideologies. The chapter then considers a number of contemporary ideologies such as feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism.

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This chapter explores the role of civil society, interest groups, and populism in politics. It first considers the concept of ‘civil society’ and how it came to be associated with the protests that brought down communist regimes in Eastern Europe, along with its role in the Arab Spring. It then looks at interest groups as a major component of civil society, the rise of corporatism, and the notion of ‘infrapolitics’ or politics from below. It also discusses the growing phenomenon of populism as a way of enhancing the status and position of previously neglected groups in democracies as well as a challenge to liberal democracies. A case study on populism online involving Beppe Grillo and the Five star Movement is presented. The chapter suggests that populist politicians make use of the media to forge a direct relationship with their supporters.

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This chapter focuses on the concept of civil society, along with interest groups and the media. It first provides a background on the evolution of civil society and interest groups before discussing corporatism. In particular, it examines the ways in which civil society responds to state actors and tries to manoeuvre them into cooperation. This is politics from below. The chapter proceeds by considering the notion of ‘infrapolitics’ and the emergence of a school of ‘subaltern’ studies. It also explores the role of the media in political life and the impact of new communication technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones on politics. Finally, it evaluates some of the challenges presented by new media to civil society.

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This chapter explores the principles of comparative research design as well as the issues and problems associated with different aspects of the approach. In particular, it considers the issue of case selection, the common sources of error that are associated with comparative research, and what can be done to try and avoid or minimize them. The comparative method is one of the most commonly used methods in political research and is often employed to investigate various political phenomena, including democratization, civil war, and public policy. The chapter discusses the three main forms of comparison, namely case study, small-N comparison, and large-N comparison. It also describes two main approaches used to select cases for small-N studies: Most Similar Systems Design and Most Different Systems Design. It also evaluates qualitative comparative analysis and concludes with an analysis of issues arising from case selection and data collection in large-N comparative research.

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This concluding chapter summarizes some of the major themes and the threads of various arguments discussed throughout the book. It first emphasizes the complexity of the field and the ways in which political philosophy and the empirical study of politics are intertwined, arguing that the study of politics cannot be neatly separated from the study of other disciplines such as philosophy, law, economics, history, sociology, and psychology — and the fact that policy-making typically involves the natural sciences. The chapter proceeds by analysing how globalization influences political studies and highlights the limits of ‘methodological nationalism’ in political analysis. Finally, it considers Eurocentrism in the study of politics and contends that we cannot automatically assume the pre-eminence of Europe and the United States, or the West more generally, noting the apparent inevitability of the rise of other centres of power.

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This chapter summarizes the text’s various arguments. It first considers the relationships between the study of political philosophy, political institutions, and international relations and suggests that the study of politics cannot be divorced from the study of other social sciences such as economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, law, and history. It also contends that the study of politics should be seen as a genuinely international and comparative enterprise and explains how trends in globalization have further eroded the distinctions between domestic and international politics and between the domestic politics of individual nation-states. Finally, it discusses the rise of the so-called ‘new medievalism’, a scenario in which the world is moving towards greater anarchy; signs that global power is shifting from the West to the East; and developments showing that domestic politics and international relations are mutating.

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This chapter examines seven critical approaches to global politics: Marxism, Critical Theory, constructivism, feminism, postmodernism, postcolonial theory, and green theory. In their book The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels address the implications for global order of the rise of capitalism and the role of the bourgeoisie as controllers of capital. Their ideas have had a major influence on critical approaches to virtually all aspects of both domestic and global politics. The chapter considers some major strands of Marxist-influenced theory of direct relevance to global politics, including dependency theory, world-system theory, Gramscian theory, and Frankfurt School theory. It also discusses gender theory and compares postmodern/poststructural approaches to global politics with Critical Theory and constructivism in International Relations.

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This chapter focuses on democracies, democratization, and authoritarian regimes. It first considers the two main approaches to analysing the global rise of democracy over the last thirty years: first, long-term trends of modernization, and more specifically economic development, that create preconditions for democracy and opportunities for democratic entrepreneurs; and second, the sequences of more short-term events and actions of key actors at moments of national crisis that have precipitated a democratic transition — also known as ‘transitology’. The chapter proceeds by discussing the different types of democracy and the strategies used to measure democracy. It also reviews the more recent literature on authoritarian systems and why they persist. Finally, it examines the challenges that confront democracy in the face of authoritarian revival.

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This chapter examines democracy and democratization in relation to authoritarian regimes. It begins with a discussion of the three ‘waves’ of democratization that have occurred worldwide since the nineteenth century, the third of which began in 1974 with the demise of the long-standing authoritarian regime in Portugal, followed by the end of Franco's dictatorship in Spain in 1975. The chapter goes on to consider the main approaches to analysing democratization, different analytical models of democracy such as polyarchy and liberal democracy, and indexes to measure democracy. It also reviews the more recent literature on authoritarianism and the reasons for its persistence before concluding with an assessment of the challenges that confront democracy in the face of authoritarian revival.

Chapter

This chapter examines key aspects of democratic theory. It first defines what democracy means and traces the historical evolution of the term, from the time of the ancient Greeks to the French and American revolutions up to the nineteenth-century, when democracy began to take on more popular connotations in theory and practice. The chapter goes on to discuss the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy. It also considers alleged problems with democracy — relating to majoritarianism, its impact on economic efficiency, and its relationship with desired outcomes — before concluding with an analysis of the new directions democratic theory has taken in recent years, including associative, deliberative, cosmopolitan, and ecological versions of democracy.

Chapter

This chapter examines the claim that democracy is the ideal form of political obligation. It first traces the historical evolution of the term ‘democracy’ before discussing the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy, asking whether it is possible to reconcile elitism with democracy and whether participatory democracy is politically realistic. The chapter proceeds to explain why democracy is viewed as the major grounding for political obligation, with emphasis on the problem of majority rule and what to do with the minority consequences of majoritarianism. It documents the contemporary malaise experienced by democracy and seeks to explain its perceived weaknesses as a form of rule. Finally, the chapter describes the new directions that democratic theory has taken in recent years, focusing on four theories: associative democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy, and ecological democracy.

Chapter

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter discusses diplomacy and the conduct of foreign policy, both of which are fundamental to relations between political communities worldwide. It first considers diplomacy and its related concept, statecraft, in global history, focusing on some important concepts such as raison d’état (reason of state) and machtpolitik (power politics). It then examines diplomatic practice in contemporary global politics, with particular emphasis on track-two diplomacy and third-party mediation, along with developments in diplomacy during the Cold War. It also looks at public diplomacy, which may be understood as an instrument of ‘soft power’ in contrast with the methods of power politics. It concludes with an overview of the European Union’s common foreign and security policy.

Chapter

John Vogler

This chapter examines how environmental issues have become increasingly prominent on the international agenda over the last five decades. It considers whether globalization and development must come at the expense of the physical environment, whether state governments can cooperate to protect the planet, and whether climate justice is possible. The chapter first provides a brief history of the development of an international environmental agenda before discussing the functions of international environmental cooperation. It then explores efforts to addres the problem of climate change through the establishment of an international climate regime and highlights the neglect of environmental issues in traditional and realist international relations theory. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the concept of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ and the other with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and its influence on international climate politics.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the principles of ethnography and participant observation: what they are, how (if) they became standardized as a research method, what form of evidence they constitute, and what place they occupy in the study of Politics. Participant observation has emerged as a popular research tool across the social sciences. In particular, political ethnographies are now widely carried out in a broad variety of contexts, from the study of political institutions and organizations to the investigation of social movements and informal networks, such as terrorist groups and drugs cartels. Political ethnography is also becoming a research method of choice in the field of International Relations. The chapter examines the strengths of ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on issues relating to sampling, access, key informants, and collecting observational data. It also addresses the weaknesses of ethnography, especially issues of subjectivity, reliability, and generalizability.

Chapter

This chapter explores the relations between the executive and legislative branches of government, along with their role in formulating government policy. It first describes the general framework of legislature–executive relations before discussing the civil service and its embedded autonomy. It then examines theories of bureaucratic policy-making, with particular emphasis on the problem of facilitating policy innovation, as well as the more recent proliferation of government agencies and the concepts of governance and good governance. It also considers the spread of the domain of policy-making beyond state officials or civil servants to issue networks and policy communities and concludes by analysing the emergence of a ‘network state’ and its implications for civil servants.

Chapter

This chapter examines how executives, bureaucracies, and policy studies influence governance. It first provides an overview of the relations between the legislature and the executive, with emphasis on the competing claims of presidentialism versus parliamentarianism, before discussing the civil service and its traditional role in building up the effective power of the state. Using examples from economic policy-making, it argues that embedded autonomy is an appropriate way of characterizing the civil service's relationship with the rest of society. The chapter goes on to consider theories of bureaucratic policy-making, focusing in particular on policy innovation, public administration, and New Public Management, the more recent proliferation of agencies in government, and the concept of good governance. Issue networks, the notion of iron triangles, and policy communities are also explored. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the ‘network state’ and its implications for civil servants.

Chapter

This chapter explores the principles of experimental research design as well as the issues and problems associated with different aspects of the approach. In particular, it considers the issue of internal and external validity, the common obstacles associated with experimental research, and what can be done to try and avoid or minimize them. The chapter first describes the five steps involved in the classic version of the experimental design before discussing three types of experimental design: laboratory experiments, field experiments, and natural experiments. It also examines the ethical issues that arise from experimental research and concludes by highlighting some of the advantages of experimental research.

Chapter

Helen M. Kinsella

This chapter examines international feminism, focusing on how feminist international relations theories are necessary for understanding international politics, what feminist international relations theories provide for understanding international politics, and how feminist international relations theories have influenced the practice of international politics. The chapter proceeds by explaining feminism and feminist international relations theory as well as feminist conceptions of gender and power. It also discusses four feminist international relations theories: liberal feminist international relations, critical feminist international relations, postcolonial feminist international relations, and poststructural feminist international relations. Two case studies of women's organizations are presented: the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether feminist foreign policy changes states' foreign policy decisions.

Chapter

This chapter shows how to develop an answer to a particular research question. It first considers the requirements and components of an answer to a research question before discussing the role of ‘theory’ in social science research, what a ‘theoretical framework’ is, and what a hypothesis is. It then explores the three components of a hypothesis: an independent variable, a dependent variable, and a proposition (a statement about the relationship between the variables). It also looks at the different types of hypotheses and how they guide various kinds of research. It also explains why conceptual and operational definitions of key terms are important and how they are formulated. Finally, it offers suggestions on how to answer normative questions.