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Understanding Politics

POL 102

BA Course (School Core undergraduate)

Fall Semester 2015

Dr. Azər Babayev

School of Public and International Affairs
ADA University
The nature of ideology

• In the social-scientific sense, ideology is a coherent

set of ideas which provide a basis for organized
political action

• Central features:
1) Account of existing power relationships
2) A model of a defined future
3) An outline of how political change can and should be
brought about

• Competing definitions: Marxist, Liberal, Conservative


• Key ideas: individualism, freedom, reason, equality,

toleration, consent, constitutionalism

• Classical liberalism: a commitment to an extreme form of

individualism; belief in‘negative’ liberty

• Modern liberalism: characterized by a more sympathetic

attitude towards state intervention; a broader
‘positive’liberty which is linked to the personal
development and flourishing of the individual
• Key ideas: tradition, pragmatism, human imperfection,
organicism, hierarchy, authority, property

• Paternalistic conservatism: often linked to the idea of

‘compassionate conservatism’ – consistent with ideas of
hierarchy and duty > Disraeli’s One-Nation principle

• The New Right: Can be traced back to 1970s – born out of

apparent failure of Keynesian social democracy and
concern about social breakdown
- Neoliberalism > economic strand
- Neoconservatism > social strand

• Key ideas: community, fraternity, social equality,

need, social class, common ownership

• Socialism developed as a reaction to industrial

capitalism and became associated with the interests of
the growing working classes. Its goal was to abolish the
capitalist market economy and replace it with a society
constructed on the basis of common ownership

• There are many strands of socialism, ranging from

Marxism through to social democracy
Other Ideological Traditions

• Fascism

• Anarchism

• Green politics

• Cosmopolitanism

• Feminism
Feminism – the social construction
of gender
• Fascism

• Anarchism

• Feminism

• Green politics

• Cosmopolitanism

• Feminism > (critical) point of departure

– Politics > a male-centered and -dominated
practice and discipline
Feminism: Women in Government
Feminism - II

• A typical feminist concern

– Observation
• Less than 10 % of the world’s heads of state are
– Question
• why is this the case and how might this affect the
structure and practice of politics
– Suggestion
• If we put on gendered lenses, we get quite a
different view of politics
Feminism - III

• What is ‘gender’?
– A set of socially constructed characteristics
describing what men and women ought to be
– Two ‘ideal types’ of characteristics
• Masculine characteristics > Strength, rationality,
independence, protector, and public
• Feminine characteristics > Weakness,
emotionality, relational, protected, and private
Feminism - IV

• What is ‘gender’?
– Inequality of masculine and feminine
• Assigning more positive value to masculine
characteristics than to feminine ones
• In politics, the states > often legitimated in terms of
masculine characteristics: striving for power and
autonomy, protecting its citizens form dangers
Feminism - V

• Gender dualism in society

– Dividing necessary social activities between
men and women
• E.g., since women are associated with the private
sphere, seen as ‘natural’ to be ‘caregivers’
• Men’s association with the public space makes
them naturally ‘breadwinners’
– Feminism > Questioning the naturalness of
these dichotomized distinctions
• with consequences – for women, men, and for
Feminism – Gender in Politics

• Relationship between knowledge and

– Knowledge has been created by men, and it
is about men
– Feminist focus on social relations, particularly
gender relations
• Seeing a political system constituted by socially
constructed gender hierarchies which contribute
to gender subordination
Feminism: Gender in Politics - II

• Relationship between knowledge and

power (II)
– Gender hierarchies at the center of
examination of politics
• To understand (at the micro-level) how the lives of
individuals (especially marginalized ones) affect
and are affected by politics
Feminism - Theories

• Liberal feminism
– Focus on the subordinate position of
women in politics & investigating the causes
of this subordination within a positivist
• What might a state with more women in positions
of power look like?
• Whether there is a relationship between gender
inequality and state’s use of violence?
Feminism - Theories

• Critical feminism
– Focus on the ideational and material
manifestations of gendered identities and
gendered power in politics
– Emancipatory – to identify existing power
relations with the intention of changing them
Feminism – Theories

• Feminist constructivism
– Focus on the way that ideas about gender
shape and are shaped by global politics
– Gender as an institution/construct that
codifies power at every level of global politics
Non-western ideological trends

• Postcolonialism

• Religious fundamentalism

• Asian values

• Beyond dualism
Thank you!

• Questions & comments?

Up next

• Politics and the State