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Introduction to Political Science

14.7 Critical Worldviews

Introduction to Political Science14.7 Critical Worldviews

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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. Introduction to Political Science
    1. 1 What Is Politics and What Is Political Science?
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 Defining Politics: Who Gets What, When, Where, How, and Why?
      3. 1.2 Public Policy, Public Interest, and Power
      4. 1.3 Political Science: The Systematic Study of Politics
      5. 1.4 Normative Political Science
      6. 1.5 Empirical Political Science
      7. 1.6 Individuals, Groups, Institutions, and International Relations
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  3. Individuals
    1. 2 Political Behavior Is Human Behavior
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 What Goals Should We Seek in Politics?
      3. 2.2 Why Do Humans Make the Political Choices That They Do?
      4. 2.3 Human Behavior Is Partially Predictable
      5. 2.4 The Importance of Context for Political Decisions
      6. Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Review Questions
      9. Suggested Readings
    2. 3 Political Ideology
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 The Classical Origins of Western Political Ideologies
      3. 3.2 The Laws of Nature and the Social Contract
      4. 3.3 The Development of Varieties of Liberalism
      5. 3.4 Nationalism, Communism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism
      6. 3.5 Contemporary Democratic Liberalism
      7. 3.6 Contemporary Ideologies Further to the Political Left
      8. 3.7 Contemporary Ideologies Further to the Political Right
      9. 3.8 Political Ideologies That Reject Political Ideology: Scientific Socialism, Burkeanism, and Religious Extremism
      10. Summary
      11. Key Terms
      12. Review Questions
      13. Suggested Readings
    3. 4 Civil Liberties
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 The Freedom of the Individual
      3. 4.2 Constitutions and Individual Liberties
      4. 4.3 The Right to Privacy, Self-Determination, and the Freedom of Ideas
      5. 4.4 Freedom of Movement
      6. 4.5 The Rights of the Accused
      7. 4.6 The Right to a Healthy Environment
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
    4. 5 Political Participation and Public Opinion
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 What Is Political Participation?
      3. 5.2 What Limits Voter Participation in the United States?
      4. 5.3 How Do Individuals Participate Other Than Voting?
      5. 5.4 What Is Public Opinion and Where Does It Come From?
      6. 5.5 How Do We Measure Public Opinion?
      7. 5.6 Why Is Public Opinion Important?
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  4. Groups
    1. 6 The Fundamentals of Group Political Activity
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Political Socialization: The Ways People Become Political
      3. 6.2 Political Culture: How People Express Their Political Identity
      4. 6.3 Collective Dilemmas: Making Group Decisions
      5. 6.4 Collective Action Problems: The Problem of Incentives
      6. 6.5 Resolving Collective Action Problems
      7. Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Review Questions
      10. Suggested Readings
    2. 7 Civil Rights
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Civil Rights and Constitutionalism
      3. 7.2 Political Culture and Majority-Minority Relations
      4. 7.3 Civil Rights Abuses
      5. 7.4 Civil Rights Movements
      6. 7.5 How Do Governments Bring About Civil Rights Change?
      7. Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Review Questions
      10. Suggested Readings
    3. 8 Interest Groups, Political Parties, and Elections
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 What Is an Interest Group?
      3. 8.2 What Are the Pros and Cons of Interest Groups?
      4. 8.3 Political Parties
      5. 8.4 What Are the Limits of Parties?
      6. 8.5 What Are Elections and Who Participates?
      7. 8.6 How Do People Participate in Elections?
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  5. Institutions
    1. 9 Legislatures
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 What Do Legislatures Do?
      3. 9.2 What Is the Difference between Parliamentary and Presidential Systems?
      4. 9.3 What Is the Difference between Unicameral and Bicameral Systems?
      5. 9.4 The Decline of Legislative Influence
      6. Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Review Questions
      9. Suggested Readings
    2. 10 Executives, Cabinets, and Bureaucracies
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Democracies: Parliamentary, Presidential, and Semi-Presidential Regimes
      3. 10.2 The Executive in Presidential Regimes
      4. 10.3 The Executive in Parliamentary Regimes
      5. 10.4 Advantages, Disadvantages, and Challenges of Presidential and Parliamentary Regimes
      6. 10.5 Semi-Presidential Regimes
      7. 10.6 How Do Cabinets Function in Presidential and Parliamentary Regimes?
      8. 10.7 What Are the Purpose and Function of Bureaucracies?
      9. Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Review Questions
      12. Suggested Readings
    3. 11 Courts and Law
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 What Is the Judiciary?
      3. 11.2 How Does the Judiciary Take Action?
      4. 11.3 Types of Legal Systems around the World
      5. 11.4 Criminal versus Civil Laws
      6. 11.5 Due Process and Judicial Fairness
      7. 11.6 Judicial Review versus Executive Sovereignty
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
    4. 12 The Media
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 The Media as a Political Institution: Why Does It Matter?
      3. 12.2 Types of Media and the Changing Media Landscape
      4. 12.3 How Do Media and Elections Interact?
      5. 12.4 The Internet and Social Media
      6. 12.5 Declining Global Trust in the Media
      7. Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Review Questions
      10. Suggested Readings
  6. States and International Relations
    1. 13 Governing Regimes
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 Contemporary Government Regimes: Power, Legitimacy, and Authority
      3. 13.2 Categorizing Contemporary Regimes
      4. 13.3 Recent Trends: Illiberal Representative Regimes
      5. Summary
      6. Key Terms
      7. Review Questions
      8. Suggested Readings
    2. 14 International Relations
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 What Is Power, and How Do We Measure It?
      3. 14.2 Understanding the Different Types of Actors in the International System
      4. 14.3 Sovereignty and Anarchy
      5. 14.4 Using Levels of Analysis to Understand Conflict
      6. 14.5 The Realist Worldview
      7. 14.6 The Liberal and Social Worldview
      8. 14.7 Critical Worldviews
      9. Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Review Questions
      12. Suggested Readings
    3. 15 International Law and International Organizations
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 The Problem of Global Governance
      3. 15.2 International Law
      4. 15.3 The United Nations and Global Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)
      5. 15.4 How Do Regional IGOs Contribute to Global Governance?
      6. 15.5 Non-state Actors: Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)
      7. 15.6 Non-state Actors beyond NGOs
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
    4. 16 International Political Economy
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 The Origins of International Political Economy
      3. 16.2 The Advent of the Liberal Economy
      4. 16.3 The Bretton Woods Institutions
      5. 16.4 The Post–Cold War Period and Modernization Theory
      6. 16.5 From the 1990s to the 2020s: Current Issues in IPE
      7. 16.6 Considering Poverty, Inequality, and the Environmental Crisis
      8. Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Review Questions
      11. Suggested Readings
  7. References
  8. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain Marxism, including its fundamental concepts and possible limitations or critiques.
  • Explain feminism, including its fundamental concepts and possible limitations or critiques.

Recall that a state’s policy decisions are grounded in the general way it perceives the structure of the world, its place in the larger system, and what it believes would be necessary to secure and grow its position relative to other states. The perspectives of those in power tend to dominate discussions of international norms and theories of international relations. Those who see the system as fundamentally unjust have developed alternative theories to explain the way states act in the international system.

Marxism

Marxism51 emerged as a response to the rise of capitalism on the back of the imperial actions of the European powers. Karl Marx asserted that the individuals who controlled the factors of production in a countrythe land and physical resources, the labor force, the capital needed for investment in the facilities and processes of an economy, and the entrepreneurship and creativity that drives economic growth and diversification—had too much power over its social norms. According to Marx, over the long term, those in power seek to create institutions that further entrench the stratification of the classes of a population, keeping wealth in the upper classes and leaving the lower classes with significant obstacles to their individual advancement. Marxist states seek to promote equality among all people so that each individual has the same opportunities to further their own wealth and success. These states seek to develop an international system in which societies invest internally to focus on the development of their own power and their own means of production so that the producing state gains the most from those products to the benefit of its own citizens.

Proponents of dependency theory52 argue that the stratification of countries in the international system is based around core countries and periphery countries. This view is known as the core-periphery model.53 Core countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom are more developed than most other countries, with more stable political and social institutions and higher-order economic systems. These states rely on developing, or what were once called third-world, countries—periphery countries—that are rich in extractive resources the core countries need to maintain their status. Earlier, the chapter discussed comparative advantage and trade as the basis for international relations; dependency theory suggests that countries that are able to produce higher-order goods and services, such as technologically advanced products like machinery and computers, are better suited to protect their power in the long term. To entrench this advantage, core states have an incentive to keep periphery countries in positions of political and social unrest so that the core countries may extract the needed resources with minimal costs.

At its core, dependency theory rests on Marxist views that those who control the factors of production have the ability to exploit workers. Marxism argues that the pursuit of equality is more assured if the control of society is given to those doing the work to bring about societal progress.

Feminism

Feminist theory promotes equality among all people, regardless of biological sex or sociological gender. According to feminist theory, traditional views of international relations consider the state to be the main actor in the international system,54 and the feminist tradition views the state as an inherently masculine institution in that it is and has been dominated by men and the male point of view since its inception. As such, according to feminist theory, international relations has traditionally focused on “hard policy” issues, such as conflict and security, and has concentrated primarily on the actions of men. It has relegated to second-class status issues related to development and access to social programs. The end of the Second World War saw a huge shift in the role of women in society in general, ushering in a corresponding shift in the priorities of state policies toward the inclusion of more social programs. Since that time, the number of women in positions of power within governments has steadily increased. Women such as Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, the first woman to be elected a prime minister, have introduced policies in their countries focusing on the health, safety, and welfare of women and children alongside issues of national security and military engagement, leading to an increased focus on these policies in the international arena.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike sits at a desk holding a pen over a small stack of papers.
Figure 14.13 When she was elected in 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the first women prime minister in the world. (credit: “Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon and member of the Sri Lanka (Freedom) Party, head-and shoulders portrait, seated at desk, facing left” by United Press International (UPI)/Library of Congress, Public Domain)

Issues like poverty, infant and maternal mortality, access to education, and violence against women have become a more central part of the conversation in organizations like the United Nations. As more women become part of the policy-making process, the areas that were once relegated to “women’s issues” are being recognized as issues that affect everyone and that must be dealt with to help support vibrant, growing, prosperous societies.

It is worth noting that the scholarship of international relations as a whole has followed the slow track of progress to include women in the field. Especially in the case of scholarship related to conflict and security issues, women have been left out of the conversation, and the overwhelming perspective of work has been that of the heteronormative White male. This lack of diversity in the contributors to the scholarship has led to a lack of objectivity in the scope and process of the study of international relations. As the body of international relations scholars has incrementally, albeit marginally, diversified, the breadth and depth of the scholarship of the field has followed. As the people working in the field of international relations diversifies, a diversity of new perspectives will emerge that can help the field as a whole meet the challenges of the modern system. Scholars such as University of Wisconsin—Green Bay professor Alise Coen55 and Harvard University professor Maya Sen are bringing their unique perspectives to the study of refugee rights and its associated policies and war, respectively.

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