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Cover Introduction to Politics

Robert Garner, Peter Ferdinand, and Stephanie Lawson

Combining theory, comparative politics, and international relations, Introduction to Politics provides an introduction to the subject. It covers both comparative politics and international relations, and contextualises this material with a wide range of international examples. The text takes a balanced approached to the subject, serving as a strong foundation for further study. The material is explored in an accessible way for introductory study, but takes an analytical approach which encourages more critical study and debate. Topics range from political power and authority to democracy, political obligation, freedom, justice, political parties, institutions and states, and global political economy

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

2. Politics and the State  

Robert Garner

This chapter explains why the state and sovereignty are relevant to the study of politics. It first provides an empirical typology of the state, ranging from the minimalist night-watchman state, approximated to by nineteenth-century capitalist regimes at one end of the spectrum, to the totalitarian state of the twentieth century at the other. It then examines the distribution of power in the state by focusing on three major theories of the state: pluralism, elitism, Marxism, as well as New Right theory. The chapter seeks to demonstrate that the theories of the state identified can also be critiqued normatively, so that pluralism, for instance, can be challenged for its divisive character, as exemplified by identity politics. It then goes on to review different views about what the role of the state ought to be, from the minimalist state recommended by adherents of classical liberalism, to the pursuit of distinctive social objectives as recommended, in particular, by proponents of communitarianism. Finally, it discusses empirical and normative challenges to the state and asks whether the state’s days are numbered.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

23. Conclusion: Towards a Globalizing, Post- Western-Dominated World  

Stephanie Lawson

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.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

3. Political Power, Authority, and the State  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines the notion of power in relation to authority and the state. Power and authority are central concepts in politics. Politics is about competing interests and values, and this requires knowing something about power, since those who have power over others can determine which interests and values will be adopted by political decision-makers. The chapter first considers the link between power and authority before discussing the classic threefold typology of authority proposed by Max Weber: traditional authority, charismatic authority, and legal–rational authority. It then explores some conceptual questions about power; for example, whether it is the same as force, or whether it must be exercised deliberately. It also evaluates the methodological problems inherent in the measurement of power, particularly in relation to the different theories of the state such as pluralism, elitism, and Marxism.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

19. Security and Insecurity  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter examines traditional concepts of security and insecurity in the realm of international politics. It first considers Thomas Hobbes’s account of the state of nature and the emergence of the power politics approach to security as worked out by Hans Morgenthau and his successors. It then discusses the evolution of security thinking through to the end of the Cold War, ideas about collective security as embodied in the United Nations and the nature of security cooperation in Europe through NATO. It also explores some pressing security challenges in the post-Cold War period and the broadening of the security agenda to encompass more recent concerns ranging from environmental security to energy security and the notions of ‘human security’ and ‘responsibility to protect’. Finally, it analyses the ‘global war on terror’ and especially how the 9/11 attacks affected the discourse on security and insecurity.