Political Ideas and Ideologies (Set of 8 Books)

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Item Code: NAH112
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Open University
Language: English
Edition: 2010
Pages: 436
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 11.0 inch x 8.0 inch
Weight 1.10 kg
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Book Description

About the Books


Book I : What is Political Theory and Why do We Need it?

Book II :Political Traditions

Book III :Understanding the State

Book IV :Power, Authority and Legitimacy

Book V :Rights, Equality, Liberty and Justice

Book VI :Democracy

Book VII :Political Ideologies

Book VIII : Contemporary Issues


Book I




In Block I which is the introductory block of the present course, there are five units dealing with the basic of the discipline of political science. Political science is principally the study of politics but I like most of the notions of the discipline, there is no unanimity amongst scholars regarding the meaning, content and scope of politics. Different scholars have viewed it from different perspectives and have defined it accordingly. Some have noted it from a state-centric perspective, while some others have defined it from the standpoint of power. A basic understanding of politics from different dimensions is given in Unit I. Different scholars and thinkers of political science have attempted to theorise the different components of politics in their own ways. Thus, we have deliberations on the nature and functions of the state from several perspectives. Some have considered it as a hindrance to individuals freedom; some have viewed it as a necessary evil; some again have dubbed it as an instrument of class domination, while still other believe it to be the march of God on mankind. This is, however, only an illustration of how politics could be theorised. Theorising the Political is in Unit 2. Why the study of politics requires theories, that is, the need for political theory - that issue has been taken up in Unit 3. As has been mentioned earlier, political theories help us to focus our attention to sharpen our understanding of different issues of politics. The broad contours of political theory, conceptions of political theory -these have been dealt with in Unit 4. More discussions on concepts, political arguments and conceptual analysis have been taken up in the final unit of this Block that is, in Unit 5.





Understanding the Political



Theorising the Political



The Need for Political Theory



Conceptions of Political Theory



Political Argument and Conceptual Analysis



Book II




The present block concerns itself with political traditions. As you are perhaps aware. political theorising and practice draw heavily from traditions of politics. Accordingly. this block devotes itself to a disscusion of five major political traditions. These are:


Indian (Unit 6), Confucian (Unit 7), Arab-Islamic (Unit 8), Greek-Roman (Unit 9) and Western: Liberal and Marxist (Unit 10).


A comprehensive study of these traditions will facilitate a better understanding of the politics of different cultures and societies that you may read about in the other curses. It will also help you in grasping the various strands of classical, modern and cotemporary political theory.





Indian Political Traditions



The Confucian Tradition



Arabic-Islamic Political Traditions



Greek and Roman Traditions



Western: Liberal and Marxist Traditions



Book III




The impact of behaviouralism on political theory led to a period immediately after the war when social science lost interest in the state. This phase is now over and there is a return of scholarly concern with the state. Infact, the state remains one of the major theoretical and practical concerns of political science.


However, like most of the concepts of political science, state is also hard to define. Some consider it as the highest of all human associations, while some others view it as one of the several associations. Some try to look at the state from the standpoint of functions it carries out, while some others view it as the repository of violence and coercion.


Inspite of the different ways of looking at the state, there is some unanimity with regard to the elements constituting the state. These elements are population, territory, government and sovereignty, although international recognition has also been regarded an element by many. These different elements and different theories about the nature of the state have been discussed in Unit 11.


Sovereignty, which is an indispensable element of the state, has been analysed from different angles by different theorists. Political science is concerned with why people remain subservient to the state, how the state performs its functions, how it has been able to receive obedience from the citizens and so on. Herein, comes the issue of legitimate power which the state holds along with the authority to exercise coercion. Sovereignty, it is argued rests upon either force or consent or a combination of force and consent. Thus, there have been different dimensions of sovereignty which have been discussed in Unit 12.


Sovereignty is said to have certain characteristics like absoluteness, universality, permanence and indivisibility which make it imperative for the citizens to obey the state. These features, absoluteness and indivisibility in particular, have come under attack in recent years. But notwithstanding these criticisms, sovereignty is regarded as one of the essential characteristics of the state.


However, the process of globalisation and the associated growth of economic interests have created conflicts of authority between economic associations and the governments. The Pluralists argue that at such a time, the doctrine of absolute and unlimited authority of the state seems dangerous and undesirable. All these different aspects of sovereignty have been discussed in Unit 12.


As stated earlier, political theorisation has seen the return of the state as an area of theoretical concern since the late 1960s. But at the same time, it should be mentioned that the way the state was sought to be conceptualisation at this moment marked a radical departure from traditional conceptualisation of the state. The state has been seen as situated in the field of political contestation. This perspective rather than treating the state as autonomous focused on the limits which social movements impose upon the state. This, again has generated interest in civil society.


Theorisation of civil society at this juncture was greatly influenced by the state as the 'political constitution of civil society'. Contemporary political theory has also been greatly influenced by Gramsci who had conceptualised the works of Foucault, who conceptualised the state as made up of bits of power located through society.


The meanings of civil society and the various theoretical traditions associated with civil society have been discussed in Unit 13. Civil Society which may be viewed as a space outside the domain of the state and can interrogate the state, has an obvious sweet and sour relation with the state. At the same time, the theoretical distinction between civil society and community should also be maintained although in reality, the two are difficult to segregate. In this respect, the relation between democracy and a strong, viable civil society also becomes important. All these relations - relation of civil society with the state, democracy and community, along with the features of civil society have been discussed in Unit 13.





Meaning and Nature of the State






State, Civil Society and Community



Book IV




Power is a pervasive word in our everyday discourse. It is a word we use often without giving it much thought. But when we do think about it, we find it a difficult concept to comprehend. Concepts of power are diverse and apparently divergent. Moreover, there are several words like force, authority, control which we very often use in our day-to-day vocabulary in place of power without much thinking about their exact connotation.


The meaning of the concept of power and the distinction between power and other related themes have been discussed in Unit 14. Like other concepts of political science, power has been viewed by different political theorists from different perspectives. The most important of these theories, namely the liberal-democratic and the marxian, have been also discussed in Unit 14.


In this block, the issue of legitimacy has been mentioned while discussing the sovereign power of the state. Power, coercion, no doubt, are elements in the state's aresenal, but a state's right to rule or to receive obedience from the people does not depend upon crude exercise of power or the blatant use of coercion. Infact, such an exercise weakens the base of the state. Herein comes the relevance of authority, which is the legitimised exercise of power. This legitimacy, that is, the authority of the state over the people, may be based upon several elements.


Max Weber, the noted German sociologist classifies the bases of authority into three, rational-legal, traditional and charismatic. The meaning of authority, the distinction between power and authority, the Weberian classification of authority, the implication of authority - all these have also been discussed in Unit 14.


As has been mentioned earlier, authority basically means legitimate use of power. This inter-relation between authority and legitimacy and their connection with political obligation are the focal themes of Unit IS. The issue of political obligation - why people render habitual obedience to the state - has been a major issue of theoretical debate and discussion in political science. Earlier, political obligation was discussed from a divine standpoint. During the 17th century, this came under attack mainly from the Contractarians. Montesquieu challenged this individualist framework of the Contractarians, while a completely different approach was presented by Karl Marx. These have all been discussed in Unit 15.


While discussing legitimacy, the Weberian analysis cannot be ignored. Although the Weberian classification of legitimacy has been discussed in Unit 14, Unit IS also touches upon the issue along with a critique of it as developed by David Beetham, on the one hand, and Jurgen Habermas, on the other.


A discussion of legitimacy is, thus, essential for knowing how power is exercised by the state over people at large and why people render political obligation to the state. But, at the same time, it should be noted that on occasions, this legitimised power exercised by the state breaks down, or/in other words, there emerge revolutionary situations.


Revolution, in politics, refers to a total change in a political system, which not only vastly alters the distribution of power in the society, but results in major changes in the whole social structure. More often than not, revolution is associated with a violent overthrow of one ruling class by another which leads the mobilized masses against the existing system.


The twin aspects of political obligation and political revolution have been discussed in Unit 16. The characteristics of political obligation and the different theories of political obligation have been analysed in the first part of the unit, while the second part deals with the nature and amplification of revolution, characteristics of a revolution, different traditional theories of revolution and theorisation of revolution in more recent times.





Power and Authority






Political Obligation and Revolution



Book V




The term 'Citizenship' is in the vocabulary of political science from the time of settled human community. It defines those who are, and who are not members of a common society. Citizenship has manifestly a political connotation, yet questions arise out of its practice, which show that an appreciation of only the political dimension is insufficient for a proper understanding of it. The issue of who can practise citizenship and on what terms is not only a matter of the legal scope of citizenship, but also a matter of the non-political capacities of citizens which derive from the social resources they command and to which they have access.


Citizenship is, thus, a notion which attracts different analyses and multiple viewpoints. The meaning, origin and the development of the idea of citizenship through the classical period to the modern times has been discussed in Unit 17. The rights paradigm of citizenship as developed in the liberal political tradition has been counterpoised by the philosophy of Multi-Culturalism, on the one hand, with its emphasis on minority group rights and Civic Republicanism, with its emphasis on duties, on the other. All these debates along with a redefinition of citizenship, from the Gandhian, Marxian and Feminist perspectives have been discussed in Unit 17.


Equality, liberty and justice, are three values which are greatly emphasised in political theory. The ideal of equality, one of the three cries of the French Revolution, has treaded a long path and has come to be established in modern societies, in two forms. One is the equality of democratic citizenship and the other is the equality of condition. Equality of democratic citizenship is principally associated with the equal enjoyment of certain basic rights like the right of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, of faith, the right to vote and stand for office, right not to suffer imprisonment at the hands of the state without due process of law etc. Beyond this equality of democratic citizenship, the ideal of equality encompasses something further. The gap between the life-prospects of the best-off and the worst-off individuals in terms of any index of well-being is enormous. The Egalitarians argue that it would be a morally better state of affairs, if everyone enjoyed the same level of social and economic benefits. This may be called the equality of condition.


Thus, 'equality' has been viewed from different perspectives, interpreted from different philosophical traditions, debated as to whether inequality, in certain respects, is better than equality, co-related with liberty and so on. All these aspects have been mentioned in Unit 18.


Liberty which is another ideal of the French Revolution is also a widely discussed ideal in political science. Liberalism, has an obvious emphasis on liberty and was explained in a particular manner by Locke, which is called the 'negative' view of liberty. Since then, it has also crossed a long path and has been established in the 20th century as a positive 'view' of liberty through the writings of John Stuart Mill, T.H. Green and others.


The 20th century has, however, seen different interpretations of liberty. There is the noted work of Isaih Berlin, where he tried to reconcile the 'negative' and 'positive' views of liberty. There is also the libertarian argument.


All these various aspects with respect to liberty have been discussed in Unit 19. The Marxist critique of freedom which is based on a critique of capitalist economic system has also been discussed in Unit 19.


The last unit (Unit 20) of Block 5 discusses another important ideal called justice. Justice is primarily a normative concept, integrally connected with 'liberty' and 'equality'. To begin with, justice is multi-dimensional in character. Like the other ideals, it can not only be analysed from different perspectives with different over- riding philosophical principles; the meaning of justice also changes with the passage of time.


Justice can be distributive, procedural, harmonizing or social. All these aspects have been discussed in Unit 20. A discussion on John Rawls has been dealt with separately.





Rights and Citizenship












Book VI




Democracy is popularly known as government by the people. Historically, the idea of democracy has evolved through the ages, as people have struggled against authoritarian forces and sought to snatch power from them. The three units 21, 22 and 23 comprising this Block, seek to clarify the meaning of democracy and its different forms. As a form of direct people's rule, direct democracy has been In existence in Ancient Greece; and its virtues are even now extolled, and attempts are made, even now-to bring in a degree of direct people's participation in governance.


Because of the largeness of state, today, it is not feasible to practise direct democracy. Instead, we have everywhere indirect or representative democracy whereby people elect their representatives who rule in the name of the people. There has been a consistent criticism of representative democracy under conditions of capitalism. The argument has been that in a class-divided society, capitalism facilitates rule of the owners of means of production - the capitalists. So, capitalist democracy is a contradiction in terms. Democracy can not be real in a capitalist system, real democracy is possible only under conditions of socialism. People can be real rulers when the means of production are socialised and are not concentrated in few hands. This aspect of socialism - democracy relationship has been explained at the end in unit 23.


So, after reading this Block (6), you will be able to appreciate the meaning of democracy and the different forms of democracy.





Direct and Participatory Democracy



Representative Democracy



Socialist Democracy



Book VII




There have been some major ideologies that have influenced the discipline of political science. Four such ideologies have been discussed in this Block. Individualism forms one of the important kernels in liberal philosophical tradition. Classical liberalism dating back to the 17th century considers individuals to be the primary unit of society and is concerned about individual rights ignoring the society at large. Liberal political thought views the individual as an end in itself and this 'atomistic' view of the individual pervades throughout the liberal political tradition.


This liberal individualism has taken a curious turn in the late 20th century, when it has c.ome under attack from a different viewpoint called 'Communitarianism. John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971) reviews the contractarian method of analysis and places the individual at the heart of this analysis. Michael Sandel's Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982) criticises Rawlsian liberal individualism from what is called a communitarian standpoint, where primacy is accorded to society. All these dimensions of individualism and the communitarian critique of individualism have been discussed in Unit 24.


As against individualism, we have totalitarianism which aims at a total transformation of societies. Totalitarianism is historically linked with Italian fascism and Mussolini's rise to power, and the Nazi philosophy of Hitler in Germany Nazism as promoting totalitarian rule and a totalitarian concept of society, is fundamentally opposed to the pluralism of democracy. The features of fascism, the ideological strands and social bases of fascism have all been discussed in Unit 25. What the condition of the state and society was in Italy and Germany under the personal dictatorship of Mussolini and Hitler respectively has also been discussed in Unit 25.


One of the most influential ideologies of political science, namely. Marxism has been discussed in Unit 26. Marxism which is also called Scientific Socialism, Orthodox Marxism, or what is associated with Karl Marx and Frederick Engels embarked upon a materialist interpretation of history and presented a teleological theory in which ideas of class struggle and of the primacy of the economy playa major explanatory role.


In the final unit (Unit 27) of this Block, the influential ideology of Gandhism has been taken up. Gandhism, unlike other ideologies, was not developed in an academic setting, but in the midst of actual political struggles. Although there were certain key elements in Gandhism like Satyagraha, Swaraj or Non-Violence, it must be remembered that there occurred certain shifts in Gandhian political ideology in the face of certain actual events. In this unit, different aspects of Gandhian political ideology have been discussed.





Individualism and Communitarianism









Gandhism (Dharma, Swaraj, Sarvodaya and Satyagraba)







This Block is the last one in this new course on political theory. However, this does not make it any less important. The block deals with certain vital issues of our times such as the interface of the State and Globalisation (Unit 28), Secularism (Unit 29), Development (Unit 30) and the Disadvantaged and Affirmative Action (Unit 31).


You will notice as a student of the IGNOU's Bachelor's Degree Programme that the issues dealt with in this block are common to a number of courses offered by the discipline of Political Science as well as other social science disciplines. This should indicate to you the importance of these contemporaneous themes.





State and Globalisation









Disadvantaged and Affirmative Action


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