Notes for Government and Politics Chapter 1 Politics: Setting the Stage

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Chapter ONE

Politics: Setting the Stage

I. What do political scientists study?

Study politics and analyze it.

Ex. Measure just how much it actually costs a country to lose a war, devise a new system of voting in primaries that might have led to a different set of candidate for most presidential elections, study the spread of welfare reforms across the states, study why democracies almost never wage war on other democracies.

II. Politics: What is it?

Politics is the making of common decisions for a group of people through the exercise of power by some members of the group over other members.

III. Politics as the making of common decision

"Company politics" (Ford company's design decisions are not political decisions for the US, but are political decisions for Ford's stockholder, managers, and workers, because they set a common policy for the company)

"Family politics" (involve the family's decisions)

Neither is a national political decision

IV. Politics as an exercise of power

The two defining characteristics of politics are that:

1. politics always involves the making of common decisions for groups of people and

2. those decisions are made by some members of the group exercising power over other members of the group.

Power is defined by Shively as the ability of one person to cause another to do what the first wishes, by whatever means.

Power may be exercised as coercion: when we force a person to do something he doesn't want to do, persuasion: convince someone that that is what he really wants to do, and construction of incentives: when we make the alternative so unattractive that only one reasonable option remains.

V. Implicit and manifest power

Manifest power is power based on an observable action by A that causes B to do what A wants.

Ex. Police...