Political sociology syllabus what to include

Political sociology syllabus what to include

In what follows I will describe the key points I would want to convey about each concept and the iterate would use to demonstrate these keys points. Power is a central tenet to the study of political sociology because power pervades every aspect Of social life. Power is embedded in relationships between the state and civil society. It is embedded in institutions, relationships between classes and other interests groups, and shapes the very structure of society and our everyday lives. It informs who is allowed to get what and how much they get.

One key idea underlying the conceptualization of power is that it is a relational concept, meaning that power is not static or absolute, it moves, changes shape, and remains rather laid. Though power pervades every aspect of social life, it is often not easily detectable or seen. This makes power, as many political sociological theorists describe it, an “essentially contested” concept (Likes 1974: 9) meaning that there is no concrete or easily tangible definition. Another key quality underlying power is that it takes on different forms: power over, holding power, power to do something, having more power, or being powerless (Neumann 2005).

A third key quality underlying power is that it occurs in multiple dimensions (Likes 1974), this means that power can operate at efferent levels of institutions, in micro and macro social processes or levels of consciousness. To demonstrate this point I would use Likes’ (1974) book on the three dimensions of power. The first dimension of power theorizes power from the simplest terms, decision making. It focuses on action and resulting outcomes between two competing interest groups. Likes’ second dimension of power takes this analysis a bit further by extending the analysis of power to include options that are not considered or, non-decisions.

Non- decisions represent potential issues, but their potentiality is determined by agenda setting. Agenda setting itself involves an exercise of power because it involves a group’s ability to bring their interests/state goals to the table to be considered in the formal decision making process. In these instances some group’s interests may get out voted, and in other instances they may lack the resources or following to even get to the table in the first place. As in line with the first and second dimensions of power, these conceptions of power only focus on actual, observable conflict (Likes 1 974: 19).

To further demonstrate how power works in society, I would also have my class read Dominoes ‘Who Rules America? ” Domingo (2006) captures how the corporate elite limit the scope of options by shaping the political agenda before it even reaches a place where the public can vote on it. This is very much in line with the second dimension of power as Domingo uncovers the mechanisms -lobbying, straying away from social issues, the creation of think-tanks, etc. -? that allow the corporate elite to shape policy so that it benefits their own (economic) interests.

Likes third dimension of power captures this more, unconscious, commonsensical and hegemonic notion of power. Hegemony, which is unconnected to power, is the second core political sociology concept that would emphasize in my own class. Hegemony was often theorized mainly on an ideological terrain. However some approaches see hegemony, as a form of power, that is ingrained in everyday life as “patterns of thought, terms and categories of language, and the very way that activities are organized” people rarely recon size it as being power and which consequently obscures people’s ‘real’ interests (Neumann 2005: 14).

Hegemony here serves as manufactured consent At this level hegemony is so pervasive in everyday social life, we jugulate ourselves. To best demonstrate this idea of hegemony – as deeply embedded in all arenas of social life – I would assign Faculty’s (1 995, [1 977]) metaphor of Pontification from Discipline and Punish. The second concept that would emphasize in my political sociology would be the state. The state, like power is another central tenet of sociology. The first key point that would want to emphasize is the idea of the state as an actor.

Evans et al. ‘s 1985 book Bringing the State Back In, was the first to address the need for more academic attention paid to the role of the state. Emerging from this irk is the idea of the state as an actor. Instead of seeing the state as a neutral, static phenomenon like early structural-functionalists and pluralists (Evans et al. 1985), the editors see the State as autonomous and having the capacity to act. Its capacity to act, however, is largely determined by its ability to act on its own, or on behalf of those who control the state (Evans et al. 985). This new theoretical focus on the state as an actor see state autonomy and capacity as variable and the ability and degree to which the state can be autonomous depends on contextual factors of a particular society. The rest of Even et al. (1985) book demonstrates how the state, conceived of as an actor, varies in multiple research settings. The second key idea that I would relate about states is how the state shapes social inequality, in particular racial and gender inequality.

To demonstrate how the state informs racial inequality, I would assign Mom and Woman’s work on racial formation, in particular I would emphasize Chapters 4 and 5 of their book Racial Formation. In this understanding the state is seen as a rationalized institution and a central location where racial ideologies and categorization are contested, created, maintained and destroyed (Mom and Want 1994). Social movement groups concerned with race interact with the state via racial projects to institutionalize their particular conceptions of race and racial hierarchy.

For instance, in the United States the “coloring ideology’ has shaped racial politics since the civil rights era. Centered around the coloring ideology is the notion that race no longer matters, racism doesn’t exist anymore and it is unnecessary to have legislation that emphasizes equality along racial lines. The coloring ideology with its inattention to race and racial matters essentially reproduces the existing racial status quo within the United States the hegemonic normalization of whites and whiteness and the subordination of other racial minorities.

James and Redding (2005)in their chapter in the Handbook of Political Sociology take the theoretical approaches of race and the state a step forward. In their chapter they outline the social constructionist approaches to race/ethnicity, emphasize the general inattention of political sociology toward how the state maintains and creates racial identities, and finally offer a critique of Mom and Woman’s original thesis f the racial state. Their work centers on reauthorizing the conception of racial state by paying more attention to internal structures, or “how states produce and maintain race inequalities and identities” Games and Redding 2005).

And finally to emphasize how gender IS shaped by the state, would look at feminist theorization of the welfare state. Roller (1996) and Roller (2009) both provide comprehensive summaries of feminist approaches to conceptualizing the welfare state and the relation between gender and the welfare state. Research on welfare states generally centralize on two different approaches: 1 . S the idea that welfare states reproduce gender inequality, 2. That welfare states alleviates gender inequality through social provisions. In the former, certain gender ideologies, I. E. Rotational gender expectations that take form of breadwinner/housewife model, get embedded in state policies and implemented in social provisions that manifest into material consequences/ advantages for women and men. For instance, following the welfare reform in 1996, TANKS (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) social policies emphasized marriage as a suitable mechanism for women to get out of poverty (Hays 2003). Instead of women themselves being sources of economic gain and a mechanism to get out of poverty, they are encouraged to seek marriage dependence on men.

This reproduces the idea that women’s contribution to society remains centrally in the private sphere of life whereas men’s contribution remains in the public sphere. The latter approach emphasizes how social provisions given to women affect their social standing. To provide an empirical example that demonstrates how social policy shapes the everyday lives of women I would assign Sharon Hays’ (2003) Flat Broke with Children. And finally, to demonstrate the recent trend in the theoretical approaches to the welfare state would assign Rollers (2009) article.

In her article she calls for a complete synthesis Of feminist perspectives on gender with theories of the welfare state. Roller (2009) highlights how gendered insights (gender as a relational concept, the gendered division of labor, and gendered political participation) suggest a need for a more centralized focus on gender when studying welfare states. The fourth key idea that I would emphasize is citizenship. Citizenship is the relationship between the individual and the state. This relationship and the rights allotted look different pending of course on the type of state regime the individual lives under.

But in general, citizenship involves a collection of rights which are determined by your social location. The extent of citizen rights determines how much power and/or say a given individual has in shaping their government. It is important to political sociology because the conception of citizenship gives individuals agency and it recognizes how individuals can shape their social and political institutions. So what are citizenship rights? This becomes the first important idea to convey. T. H. Marshal’s (1964) book Citizenship, Class and

Social Development on citizenship was foundational to political sociological approaches to citizenship theory. Marshal’s approach to citizenship highlighted three phenomena: how the understanding of citizenship had evolved over time, from civil rights to socio-economic rights, and that this expansion happens in a particular sequence, and finally due to consequences of capitalism (inequality) has led to the expansion of even more rights (1964). Though T. H. Marshal’s theory provided a good starting point, recent theorists have pointed to limitations of the theory (Roller 1993).

To convey the limits, loud assign Rollers (1993) “Gender and the Social Rights of Citizenship. ” Roller (1993) demonstrates how previous conceptions of citizenship – including Marshal’s – are gender neutral. In these instances, conceptions of citizenship neglect the aspects relegated to the private sphere of life, which women are generally more situated in, as caregivers and mothers, than men. Additionally In socio-democratic societies, the citizen is often framed as a “citizen worked’ in which men’s “rights, identities, and participating patterns [are] determined by [men’s] ties to the labor” -? or the public sphere (Roller 993: 308).

In earlier conceptions citizenship and what constitutes being a citizen and its rights have always been tied to a particular nation state. Given recent trends, in the last several decades, toward globalization and a more globalizes and interconnected economy, our very understanding of what constitutes a citizen has been changing (Brisk and Shari 2003). Pierson (1996) demonstrates that citizenship can no longer be defined exclusively by a person’s relationship to a nation-state; it is instead being redefined through relationships to larger political institutions, ones that surpass national orders (Neumann 2005).

To demonstrate this change in our conception of citizenship would assign Brisk and Shari’s (2003) People out of Place. This work demonstrates how globalization has changed the nature of citizenship rights and what this means for those who occupy marginalia positions throughout the global economy. Of particular interest here are their first two chapters entitled “Globalization and the Citizenship Gap” and “Citizenship and Human Rights in the Era of Globalization. ” Citizenship, given its changing form over time characterized by a fluid process, something that is always changing.

The final and fifth key idea that I will address is social movements. Social movements have long been excluded from sociological inquiry. In earlier conceptions they were seen as irrational bursts of discontent by the masses that often resulted in riots or other forms of collective action (McCarthy and Said 1977). It was not until the 1 9705 that a more tactical form of social movement theory developed. Social movements are important to the study of political sociology because they are sources of social change: interest groups can protest the state and attempt to gain more rights and better representation.

In what follows, to convey the progression of social movement theory, pull from literature that traces social movement theory from its from its first approach (resource manipulation) to its more contemporary orientations (new social movements). McCarthy and Gal. (1977) in their article “Resource Manipulation and Social Movements” outline the theory behind resource manipulation. In simplest terms, resource manipulation involves the aggregation of resources (people, money, labor) into an organized structure to express collective grievances.

Early resource manipulation theory was largely criticized for its inattention to how people are ran to movements, why they stay in movements, and how the larger political social structure shapes movement opportunities (Macadam 1982). Macadam’s (1982) Political Process and the Development Black Insurgency introduces the political process theory approach to social movements. The political process approach is exemplified by three characteristics: opportunity structures, the ability to mobile and finally cognitive liberation.

Political opportunity structures refer to events in the political environment that shift the balance of power between competing groups which allows an opportunity or insurgent groups to advance (Macadam 1 982: 40-41 The second characteristic involves a movements ability to mobile quickly. Similar to ARM, ability to mobile quickly is often determined by the dedication of members (often determined by a clear benefit of participating in the movement), and the extent to which resources, organizations and social networks are already in place.

The final tenet of PPTP is the idea of cognitive liberation, a psychological phenomenon that involves member’s ability to actively want to participate in the social movement with an orientation toward redefining existing social/political/economic relations. To adequately capture the PPTP approach, I would require Macadam’s entire book, with particular emphasis on the Introduction in the second edition, which updates and provides a better summarization of PPTP, Chapter 2 which critiques resource manipulation, Chapter 3, which provides the general theory of PPTP, and finally chapter 9 which relates political process theory to black insurgency.

For a more synthesized and comprehensive approach (pulling both from aspects Of ARM and PPTP) to social movements would turn to Macadam’s et al. (2001) Dynamics of Contention, specifically Chapter 1 . Generally dubbed the classical social movement agenda, Macadam et al. (2001 ) highlights the four core aspects of this approach. The first two are reminiscent of PPTP; these include the political opportunity structures and the ability to mobile quickly. The third aspect of this approach is framing.

From a constructivist angle, as opposed to earlier objective-macro approaches, framing processes take into account how ideology, consciousness and culture shape grievances and the overall message of the movement (Snow et al. 1986). To illustrate this I would assign Snow et al. (1986) original article “Frame Alignment Processes, Nationalization, and Movement Participation” on framing processes. The final aspect of this the classic model of social movements is repertories of actions, or the ways in which people participate in collective action.

There are two main points I would want to convey about Dynamics of Contention: first, the synthesis of ARM, PPTP, and constructivist approaches into a broader and more comprehensive social movement framework, and second the reorientation of this framework to a more dynamic approach that “bring these variables into relation with one another and with other significant actors (Macadam et al. 2001 : 43). The most recent approach to social movements has been that of new social movement theory. A question that many new social movement theorists ask is ‘Vatu is ‘new’ about new social movement theory” (Buckler 1 995: 441)?

Some charge that nothing has changed, and that “new’ social movements are just remnants of earlier political social movements that look different in their contemporary form. As suggested by new social movement theory, what movements look like and what constitutes them has fundamentally changed since the sass. In classical social movement theory, activism and manipulation generally center n around economic concerns. On the other hand, Moms have taken a cultural turn. These movements are largely seen as white-middle class lifestyle movements generally concerned with creating a social space outside of the hegemonic social order.

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