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Cover Issues in Political Theory


Robert Jubb, Catriona McKinnon, and Patrick Tomlin

This introductory chapter provides an overview of political theory. Political theory is the study of whether and what political institutions, practices, and forms of organization can be justified, how they ought to be arranged, and the decisions they ought to make. This is normative political theory. Normative theories are action-guiding, and so are theories about what we ought to do. There are two important things to remember when making claims in political theory. One is that moral and political values are relative to specific cultures in specific times and places, and so there is no universal truth about such matters. The second is that such values are radically subjective: individuals set their own moral compass and can choose how to live as they please. We should be clear about which of these positions we are invoking if we are sceptical of universal normative claims.


Cover Global Environmental Politics

1. Interconnections between science and politics  

This chapter discusses the complex and multifaceted relationship between science and politics. Although science and politics each follow a distinct logic and pursue distinct objectives, they are inextricably connected to one another. On the one hand, science influences political debates, by drawing attention to certain problems and providing necessary justifications for political action. On the other hand, political dynamics, including political values and power relations, structure the conduct of science. The chapter highlights the different aspects of the co-production of science and politics, in the framework of international environmental debates. An increasing number of studies on global environmental governance suggest that science and politics are co-produced. As they shape each other, it is impossible to understand one without considering the other. Political interactions are partly based on available knowledge, and scientific production is a social practice that is conditioned by its political context.


Cover Political Thinkers

27. Marx and Engels  

Paul Thomas

This chapter examines Karl Marx's relationship to Friedrich Engels and their joint works of the 1840s, along with those works each of them published separately. Marx is regarded as Engels regarded him; that is, as the more important of the two, both as a theorist and political activist in the First International. The chapter begins with a discussion of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, with particular emphasis on Marx and Engels's views on ideology. It then considers Marx's critique of political economy; his concepts of use value, exchange value, and surplus value; and the ‘fetishism of commodities’ as discussed in the first volume of Capital. It also explores Marx's insights about Western European history and his theory of the state before concluding with an overview of Engels's contribution to Marxism.


Cover Democratization

9. Political Culture, Mass Beliefs, and Value Change  

This chapter examines the role of mass beliefs and value change in democratization processes. Building on one of the central assumptions of political culture theory—the congruence thesis—it argues that mass beliefs are of critical importance for a country’s chances to become and remain democratic. Mass beliefs determine whether a political system is accepted as legitimate or not, which has a major impact on a regime’s likelihood of surviving. The chapter first considers how the role of mass beliefs in democratization is addressed in the literature before discussing mass demands for democracy vs popular preferences for democracy. It then discusses regime legitimacy and its relation to economic performance and asks whether emancipative values are caused by democracy. It also explains changes in many countries’ level of democracy and concludes with an analysis of the influence of religion on democratization.


Cover The Globalization of World Politics

16. Global political economy  

Nicola Phillips

This chapter introduces the field of international political economy (IPE), the themes and insights of which are reflected in the global political economy (GPE), and what it offers in the study of contemporary globalization. It begins with three framing questions: How should we think about power in the contemporary global political economy? How does IPE help us to understand what drives globalization? What does IPE tell us about who wins and who loses from globalization? The chapter proceeds by discussing various approaches to IPE and the consequences of globalization, focusing on IPE debates about inequality, labour exploitation, and global migration. Two case studies are presented, the first looking at global value chains (GVCs) and global development and the second dealing with globalization and child labour.


Cover Introducing Political Philosophy

16. Humanitarian Intervention and Political Self-Determination  

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter argues that there is a just cause to intervene militarily in a state that systematically violates the human rights of its members. It rejects the views of those who contend that there is no justification for humanitarian intervention because there are no universal moral values. The chapter accepts that the value of political self-determination can explain what is wrong with humanitarian intervention in some cases. However, appeals to this value are decisive less often than many critics of intervention suppose. One concern with adopting a permissive attitude towards humanitarian intervention is that this might be open to misuse. The chapter then articulates a role for international law in authorizing intervention to minimize this risk. It concludes by clarifying how these arguments fit within a wider set of considerations pertinent to the justifiability of humanitarian intervention.


Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

13. The Rise of Populism and Its Impact on Democracy  

This chapter studies the rise of populism and its impact on democracy. Populism is an ideology that separates society into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups: ‘the pure people’ and ‘the corrupt elite’. Moreover, populism makes moral distinction between these groups; it seeks to valorise and legitimize the people while denigrating the elite. The chapter then describes the key attributes of populist leaders and their supporters. Although not inherently anti-democratic, populism does run counter to the liberal democratic ideal that emphasizes the protection of rights. Populists look to place the needs of the majority or native group ahead of individual liberties and needs. Finally, the chapter considers the underlying drivers of the rise of contemporary populism. These drivers fall into three broad categories: economic, including globalization and the economic stasis and inequality that has occurred along with it; the declining importance of political parties; and a cultural backlash against progressive values.


Cover Global Political Economy

10. Inequality  

Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez and Andy Sumner

This chapter explores income inequality in the global political economy. Income inequality matters for intrinsic and instrumental reasons, and intersects with inequalities between social groups based on gender, race, and other factors. There are three ways to think about income inequality at a global level: ‘international inequality’, ‘world inequality’, and ‘global inequality’. One can say that international inequality and world inequality have unambiguously declined since 1980. However, the magnitude of the decline depends on whether the size of countries' populations is taken into account. Meanwhile, national inequality refers to differences in income between individuals within a country. The chapter then discusses poverty. Ultimately, explanations for patterns of inequality in the contemporary period can be traced to many of the dynamics associated with globalization, particularly the reorganization of the global economy around global value chains (GVCs) and the implications for countries pursuing ‘late development’.


Cover Political Research

3. Objectivity and Values  

This chapter focuses on a key debate in the philosophy of social science: whether it is possible to separate facts and values in social science research. It first considers normative and empirical theory in political research before discussing the ways in which the values of the researcher influence the research process. It then examines Thomas Kuhn’s arguments concerning paradigms and how they change through scientific ‘revolutions’, along with their implications for the possibility of value-free social inquiry. It looks at an example of how the notion of ‘paradigm’ has been applied to a specific area of inquiry within politics: the study of development. It also compares Kuhn’s paradigms with Imre Lakatos’ concept of ‘scientific research programmes’.


Cover Global Environmental Politics

2. Ideas about environmental protection  

This chapter explores the ideas and debates which shape global environmental politics. At least three types of socially constructed ideas play a key role in international environmental governance: world views, causal beliefs, and social norms. However, ideas are not universally shared, which means that ideological clashes are a feature of global environmental governance. The chapter looks at five of the major ideological debates that have marked the evolution of global environmental governance. The first two debates present conflicting world views: the first concerns the scope of environmental values, while the second examines the intrinsic values of non-human organisms. The following two debates concern causal beliefs: one is about the relationship between human intervention and environmental protection, while the other concerns the relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation. The last debate considers different social norms related to environmental justice and the appropriate behaviours expected towards historically marginalized populations.