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Chapter

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.

Chapter

Keith Hyams

This chapter discusses the justifications for political obligation. The most important historical justification for political obligation is what is often called consent theory or contract theory. Consent theorists claim that we should obey the law because we have consented to do so. Meanwhile, the theorist H. L. A. Hart argues that if we accept a benefit, then it is only fair that we should reciprocate and give something back; if we enjoy the protection of police and armies, if we use roads, hospitals, schools, and other government-run services, then we should reciprocate by obeying the law. Other theorists argue that political obligation is something that we are bound by simply for being a member of a political community. If we cannot justify an obligation to obey the law, then we may have to adopt some form of philosophical anarchism — the view that we have no obligation to obey the law.

Chapter

This chapter evaluates new modes of theorizing in global politics. These are based on long-standing concerns in social and political theory and all of them involve identity politics in one way or another—a form of politics in which an individual’s membership of a group, based on certain distinctive characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality, acquires significant political salience and is implicated in hierarchies of power. It follows that identity itself involves issues of both who an individual is, and who that individual is not. This involves not just self-identification or self-definition, but is also mediated by the perceptions of others. In some cases there are connections with social movements concerned with issues of justice and equality in both domestic and global spheres. In almost all cases the specific issues of concern, and their theorization, have come relatively late to the agenda of global politics and so may be said to constitute a ‘new wave’ of theorizing in the discipline. The chapter looks at feminism, gender theory, racism, cultural theory, colonialism, and postcolonial theory.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

This chapter deals with recent theoretical work on the European Union. Three broad analytical pathways that depart from the classical debate are discussed in this chapter: comparative political science; a revitalized international relations (IR); and ‘critical theories’. Two additional pathways—governance and normative political theory—are considered in other chapters (see Chapters 7 and 9). This chapter discusses in turn the contribution to EU studies of comparative political science in general and new institutionalist political science, and in particular the emergence of social constructivist approaches to the EU, IR’s contribution to the theorization of EU external action, together with approaches from the subfield of international political economy (IPE), and a variety of critical theoretical readings of the EU. The chapter also explores how IR theories might be brought back into EU studies. The purpose of the chapter is to show how the EU still raises significant questions about the nature of authority, statehood, and the organization of the international system. These questions are doubly significant in the present period of crisis, where the issue of ‘disintegration’ comes to the fore.

Chapter

This chapter deals with recent theoretical work on the European Union. Three broad analytical pathways are discussed: comparative political science; a revitalized international relations (IR); and ‘critical theories’. This chapter discusses in turn the contribution to EU studies of comparative political science in general and new institutionalist political science, and in particular the emergence of social constructivist approaches to the EU, IR’s contribution to the theorization of EU external action, together with approaches from the subfield of international political economy (IPE), and a variety of critical theoretical readings of the EU. The chapter also explores how IR theories might be brought back into EU studies. The purpose of the chapter is to show how the EU still raises significant questions about the nature of authority, statehood, and the organization of the international system. These questions are doubly significant in the present period of crisis, where the issue of ‘disintegration’ comes to the fore.

Chapter

David Owen

This chapter assesses power, a basic concept of political theory. In its most fundamental sense, power is a dispositional concept that refers to the capacity to affect some feature of the world and the capacity to produce effects with respect to those feature of the world. The concept of power is closely bound in social and political contexts to the concepts of freedom and responsibility. There are different modes of power: power to, power with, power over, and power of. The power of an agent typically depends on the context of power in which they are situated and on the relations in which they stand to other agents within broader social structures. Moreover, exercises of power are always mediated — and, indeed, we often distinguishes forms of social and political power in terms of prominent general media through which they are exercised. The chapter then considers the three-dimensional view of power.

Chapter

David Campbell and Roland Bleiker

This chapter examines how and why poststructuralism engaged International Relations (IR) from the 1980s to today. It begins by analysing the interdisciplinary context of social and political theory from which poststructuralism emerged, along with the misconceptions evident in the reception of the poststructuralist approach among mainstream theorists. It then considers what the critical attitude of poststructuralism means for social and political inquiry and draws on the work of Michel Foucault to highlight the importance of discourse, identity, subjectivity, and power to the poststructuralist approach. It also discusses the methodological features employed by poststructuralists in their readings of, and interventions in, international politics. The chapter concludes with a case study of images of famines and other kinds of humanitarian crises that illustrates the poststructural approach.

Chapter

David Campbell and Roland Bleiker

This chapter examines how and why poststructuralism engaged International Relations (IR) from the 1980s to today. It begins by analysing the interdisciplinary context of social and political theory from which poststructuralism emerged, along with the misconceptions evident in the reception of the poststructuralist approach among mainstream theorists. It then considers what the critical attitude of poststructuralism means for social and political inquiry and draws on the work of Michel Foucault to highlight the importance of discourse, identity, subjectivity, and power to the poststructuralist approach. It also discusses the methodological features employed by poststructuralists in their readings of, and interventions in, international politics. The chapter concludes with a case study of images of famines and other kinds of humanitarian crisis that illustrates the poststructural approach.

Chapter

This edition provides an introduction to the major schools of thought that dominate contemporary debates in political philosophy. The focus is on theories which have attracted a certain allegiance, and which offer a more or less comprehensive vision of the ideals of politics. The text examines the notion, advanced by Ronald Dworkin, that every plausible political theory has the same ultimate value, which is equality. It considers another, more abstract and more fundamental, idea of equality in political theory — namely, the idea of treating people ‘as equals’. It also explores what it might mean for libertarianism to have freedom as its foundational value, or for utilitarianism to have utility as its foundational value. Finally, it analyses the relationship between moral and political philosophy and argues that the ultimate test of a theory of justice is that it should be concordant with, and help illuminate, our convictions of justice.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the main broad analytical approaches or frameworks of interpretation that have been used in studying politics in the developing world. It first considers two contrasting broad approaches that long dominated political analysis of developing countries. The first was a politics of modernization that gave rise to political development theory, then to revised versions of that approach. The second was a Marxist-inspired approach that gave rise to dependency theory and, subsequently, to neo-Marxist analysis. The chapter also examines globalization theory and critical responses to globalization as neoliberal ideology, which have been associated with the ‘anti-globalization movement’ and have included arguments about orientalism and ‘post-development’ theory. Finally, it explores the strategies, categories, and more specific methods of analysis that have been typically deployed to assess the politics of developing countries.

Chapter

This text provides a comprehensive introduction to comparative politics. Comparative politics is an empirical science that deals primarily with domestic politics. It is one of the three main subfields of political science, alongside international relations and political theory. Comparative politics has three goals: to describe differences and similarities between political systems and their features; to explain these differences; and to predict which factors may cause specific outcomes. This edition compares the most important features of national political systems and contains chapters on integration, globalization, and promotion of democracy in non-Western parts of the world. This introductory chapter explains what comparative politics is, and discusses its substance as well as method.

Book

Contemporary Political Philosophy has been revised to include many of the most significant developments in Anglo-American political philosophy in the last eleven years, particularly the new debates on political liberalism, deliberative democracy, civic republicanism, nationalism, and cultural pluralism. The text now includes two new chapters on citizenship theory and multiculturalism, in addition to updated chapters on utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, socialism, communitarianism, and feminism. The many thinkers discussed include G. A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, William Galston, Carol Gilligan, R. M. Hare, Catherine Mackinnon, David Miller, Philippe Van Parijs, Susan Okin, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, John Roemer, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, and Iris Young.

Chapter

Anna Elisabetta Galeotti

This chapter explores toleration, which enables the peaceful coexistence of conflicting views and ways of life within the same society. It originally emerged as the political solution to the religious wars that devastated Europe after the Reformation. Toleration as the suspension of political interference in the religious creeds of people was affirmed as the only way to stop the killings for the sake of eternal salvation. At its origin, toleration was patterned on a model of civil coexistence that implied a divide between political affairs and private matters. The contemporary debate on toleration consists of three approaches: moral, liberal, and critical. The moral analysis of toleration is mainly concerned with the definition and justification of toleration as a social and moral virtue; the liberal analysis is focused on toleration as a political principle; and critical political theory proposes toleration as recognition.

Chapter

Patrick Bernhagen and Angelika Vetter

This chapter provides an overview of political participation, ranging from conventional forms such as voting at elections to less conventional forms such as attending a demonstration or boycotting a brand for political reasons. The authors look at how voter turnout and protest participation have developed in recent decades and review the main theoretical explanations for differences and trends in participation between social groups and across European democracies. The chapter also considers new opportunities for participation at the local level and asks whether these have the potential to ameliorate or exacerbate existing problems of unequal participation.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on libertarianism and its main assumptions. According to libertarians, people have a right to dispose freely of their goods and services, and that they have this right whether or not it is the best way to ensure productivity. Put another way, government has no right to interfere in the market, even in order to increase efficiency. The chapter begins with a discussion of the diversity of right-wing political theory, with particular emphasis on Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of justice and his intuitive argument. It then considers the idea of a right to liberty and the contractarian idea of mutual advantage, along with Nozick’s principle of ‘self-ownership’. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the politics of libertarianism, taking into account its rejection of the principle of rectifying unequal circumstances, even as it shares with liberal equality a commitment to the principle of respect for people’s choices.

Chapter

This chapter examines consent theory and utilitarian theory, along with some other approaches to the moral defence of the state. Before deciding how best to justify the state, the chapter explains what a state is. It considers different types of state, from liberal democracies to dictatorships, benign or tyrannical, based on military rule, a monarchical family line, or party membership. Some states promote the free market, while others attempt collective forms of production and distribution. The chapter proceeds by discussing the goal of justifying the state: to show that there are universal political obligations. It then explores a number of defences of political obligation based on social contract, utilitarianism, and the principle of fairness.

Chapter

This chapter investigates critical approaches to global politics. While liberal and realist theorists probe each other’s ideas for faults and weaknesses, neither have challenged capitalism and its implications for social, economic, and political order. Marxism, on the other hand, which developed around the mid-nineteenth century, has provided very different perspectives and presents a significant challenge for mainstream approaches to global order in both theory and practice. Post-Marxist Critical Theory, along with historical sociology and world-systems theory, emerged in the twentieth century, giving rise to schools of thought which continue the critique of capitalism and the social and political forces underpinning it. Meanwhile, ideas arising from social theory, such as the extent to which perceptions of reality are socially conditioned and indeed ‘constructed’, achieved greater prominence following the end of the Cold War, an event which prompted many scholars to start asking new questions about global politics and the assumptions on which traditional theories rested. Constructivism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism remain concerned with issues of power and justice but provide different lenses through which these issues may be viewed in the sphere of global politics.

Chapter

Milja Kurki and Colin Wight

This chapter focuses on the major debates within International Relations (IR) theory with regard to the philosophy of social science. The philosophy of social science has played a key role in the formation, development, and practice of IR as an academic discipline. Issues concerning the philosophy of social science are frequently described as meta-theoretical debates. Meta-theory primarily deals with the underlying assumptions of all theory and attempts to understand the consequences of such assumptions on the act of theorizing and the practice of empirical research. The chapter first provides an historical overview of the philosophy of social science in IR before discussing both the implicit and explicit roles played by meta-theoretical assumptions in IR. It then considers the contemporary disciplinary debates surrounding the philosophy of social science and concludes by analysing how theoretical approaches to the study of world politics have been shaped by meta-theoretical ideas.

Chapter

Milja Kurki and Colin Wight

This chapter focuses on the major debates within International Relations theory with regard to the philosophy of social sciences. The philosophy of social science has played a key role in the formation, development, and practice of IR as an academic discipline. Issues concerning the philosophy of social science are frequently described as meta-theoretical debates. Meta-theory primarily deals with the underlying assumptions of all theory and attempts to understand the consequences of such assumptions on the act of theorizing and the practice of empirical research. The chapter first provides an historical overview of the philosophy of social science in IR before discussing both the implicit and explicit roles played by meta-theoretical assumptions in IR. It then considers the contemporary disciplinary debates surrounding the philosophy of social science and concludes by analysing how theoretical approaches to the study of world politics have been shaped by meta-theoretical ideas.