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Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

9. Political Culture and Non-Western Political Ideas  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter begins by outlining the importance of poltical culture in structuring, but not determining, the behaviour of actors within individual political systems. It illustrates the persistence of its impact with the failure of Mao Zedong to eliminate traditional Chinese ways of thinking and create a wholly new political culture in the Cultural Revolution. On the other hand it cites fluctuations in Russian political culture over centuries to show that the perceived content of a particular political culture can be fundamentally contested and malleable, so that it does evolve. And it notes the recent claims of political leaders in Russia, China and India, amongst others, that their nations’ historical achievements raise them to the status of ‘civilization states’. One feature of a nation’s political culture is the recurring trends of issues and preoccupations in political thinking there. Then it goes on to examine issues in thinking in non-Western countries, that structure political attitudes and political behaviour differently from the West. It begins by looking at traditional notions of legitimate political authority in other regions of the world, particularly Asia, that preceded the arrival of Western colonialists. These often assumed more ‘organic’ and more segmented communities than would be associated with Western individualist ones influenced by the legacy of the French revolution. Then it considers more recent non-Western political thinking.

Book

Cover Security Studies: Critical Perspectives

Xavier Guillaume and Kyle Grayson

Security Studies: Critical Perspectives takes a question-centred approach by introducing the analysis of security from critical and interdisciplinary perspectives. It provides a set of analytic steps so that readers develop the critical thinking skills and confidence to ask important questions about security and our worlds in contemporary politics. Common-sense security assumptions that reproduce forms of oppression and domination are revealed and their justifications decentred while perspectives inclusive of class, gender and sexualities, ethnicity and race, religion, disability, culture and ideology, political belonging, and the global south are introduced. In doing so, the chapters in this book combine critical analysis with concrete empirical issues that connect readers to the social and political worlds around them.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

11. Votes, Elections, Legislatures, and Legislators  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter examines some of the central issues associated with voting and electoral systems, along with the functions of legislatures. It begins by discussing the two paradoxes of voting. First, the huge number of citizens in any modern state means that no individual’s vote is likely to make the difference between two or more choices, making it potentially ‘irrational’ for any individual to bother to vote at all. Yet votes make democracy possible. The second voting paradox concerns the difficulty of relying upon votes to determine the objective preferences of the public. The chapter proceeds by considering measures that aim to establish quotas to increase gender equality in legislative recruitment. It also describes different types of legislatures and the internal structure of legislatures. Finally, it analyses trends in the backgrounds of legislators in various countries, specifically focusing upon the criticism that they constitute a ‘political class’.

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

21. The Rise of the Professional Politician?  

Peter Allen and Philip Cowley

This chapter examines the debate over the presence of ‘professional’ politicians in the UK Parliament. It first explains the distinction between professional politicians, career politicians, and political class before discussing why the presence of professional politicians in Parliament is often seen as a problem. In particular, it considers two main arguments levelled against the professional politician. The first is a functionalist argument: that the optimal way to manage national affairs is to draw on a wide range of occupational experience from different spheres of society and the economy. The second type of criticism draws on a broader argument in favour of political equality and representation. The chapter concludes with an overview of contemporary developments relating to the composition of Parliament and argues that there are in fact fewer professional politicians than is commonly thought.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

11. Votes, Elections, Legislatures, and Legislators  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter examines some of the central issues associated with voting and electoral systems, along with the functions of legislatures. It begins by discussing the two paradoxes of voting. First, the huge number of citizens in any modern state means that no individual’s vote is likely to make the difference between two or more choices, making it potentially ‘irrational’ for any individual to bother to vote at all. Yet votes make democracy possible. The second voting paradox concerns the difficulty of relying upon votes to determine the objective preferences of the public. The chapter proceeds by considering measures that aim to establish quotas to increase gender equality in legislative recruitment. It also describes different types of legislatures and the internal structure of legislatures. Finally, it analyses trends in the backgrounds of legislators in various countries, specifically focusing upon the criticism that they constitute a ‘political class’.