Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The American Democracy - Evolution and Issues

Robert Dahl - The dean of American political scientists (1915 - 2014)

The Future of American Democratic Politics: Principles and Practices

Nancy J. Hirschmann, Wilson McWilliams, Gordon Schochet, Jane Junn, Nelson Polsby, Jennifer Hochschild, John Hansen, Daniel Tichenor, Milton Heumann, Elizabeth Garrett, William Crotty, Alan Rosenthal, Gerald Pomper
Rutgers University Press, Jul 21, 2003 - 296 pages

Even before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, political scientists were assessing changes and continuities in the principles and practices of American democracy. Recent events, including the passage of the U.S. Patriot Act and the current debates about civil liberties versus homeland security, intensify the need to examine the long-term viability of democracy.

In this book, fifteen major scholars assess the current state of American democracy, offering a spirited dialogue on the future of democratic politics. Contributors focus on three principles fundamental to democracy—equality, liberty, and participation. They examine these principles within the context of the basic institutions of American democracy: Congress and the state legislatures, the president, political parties, interest groups, and the Supreme Court.  They raise questions regarding the checks and balances among formal governmental institutions (with the contributors sharing concern over the fading power of the legislature and the increased power of the executive and judiciary) as well as the role of political parties and interest groups.

Topics discussed include: the incomplete mobilization of the electorate, the debates over campaign finance reform and term limits, the Supreme Court’s activist role in the Florida recount, the dangers of teledemocracy and state initiatives, the separation of political participation from residential location, “identity politics,” the clash of "negative" and "positive" liberty, and the prospects for personal freedom in an era of terrorist threats.

This timely collection covers the issues relevant to the future of American democracy today not only for lawmakers, students, and historians, but for any concerned citizen.


Updated 30 August 2017, 7 February 2015

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Moral Psychology - Some Thoughts

The idea that the mind is a blank slate at birth is a right. Developmental psychology has shown that kids come into the world with some knowledge about the physical and social worlds, and programmed to make it really easy for them to learn certain things and hard to learn others. The brain scientist Gary Marcus says, "The initial organization of the brain does not depend that much on experience. Nature provides a first draft, which experience then revises. Built-in doesn't mean unmalleable; it means organized in advance of experience." OK, so what's on the first draft of the moral mind? Jonathan Hiadt and Craig Joseph,  found five foundations of morality from a literature review that they did.

The first one is harm/care. All mammals have a lot of neural and hormonal programming that makes them  really bond with others, care for others, feel compassion for others, especially the weak and vulnerable. It also gives them  very strong feelings about those who cause harm.

The second foundation is fairness/reciprocity. This is a foundation of  many religions.

The third foundation is in-group/loyalty. You do find groups in the animal kingdom.  Among humans you find very large groups of people who are able to cooperate, join together into groups, but also  fight other groups.

The fourth foundation is authority/respect. Here you see submissive gestures from two members of very closely related species. But authority in humans is not only based on power and brutality also based on love and regard for certain services rendered when they are helpless and need those services.

The fifth foundation is purity/sanctity.  It's about any kind of ideology, any kind of idea that tells you that you can attain virtue by controlling what you do with your body, by controlling what you put into your body.

What is the difference between liberals and conservatives? Jonathan Hiadt believes that these are the five best candidates for what's written on the first draft of the moral mind. If there really are five systems at work in the mind — five sources of intuitions and emotions — then we can think of the moral mind as being like one of those audio equalizers that has five channels, where  a different setting can be made on every channel.

For  harm and care issues as well as fairness issues, liberals very committed. We can say that liberals have a kind of a two-channel, or two-foundation morality. Conservatives have more of a five-foundation, or five-channel morality. Conservative are more committed to  in-group, authority, purity. Moral arguments within cultures are especially about issues of in-group, authority, purity among liberals and conservatives.

The arguments can be explained based  on an idea. In the beginning all is ordered, all is beautiful, all the people and animals are doing what they're supposed to be doing, where they're supposed to be. But then, we know, things change based on  individual preferences. We get every person doing whatever he wants, and the resulting disorder starts hurting more people. Cooperation may decay from reasonably good, down to close to zero. The liberal thought became too extreme, the social cause was neglected too long by too many people, and therefore conservatives have to step in and bring more social or moral controls. Initially there will be arguments and then small fights etc. as the change process progresses.

Liberals also have very noble motives when they drive for change and individual liberty.  Traditional authority, traditional morality can be quite repressive, and restrictive to those at the bottom, to women, to people that don't fit in. So liberals speak for the weak and oppressed. They want change and justice, even at the risk of chaos.  So once you see this — once you see that liberals and conservatives both have something to contribute, that they form a balance on change versus stability.

In an argument or dispute, everybody thinks they are right. A lot of the problems we have to solve are problems that require us to change other people. And if you want to change other people, a much better way to do it is to first understand who we are — understand our moral psychology, understand that we all think we're right — and then step out, even if it's just for a moment, step out.  And if you do that, that's the essential move to cultivate moral humility, to get yourself out of this self-righteousness, which is the normal human condition. Think about the Dalai Lama. Think about the enormous moral authority of the Dalai Lama — and it comes from his moral humility.

There has to be a passionate commitment to the truth or to reason out what is appropriate for the moment. Let thought in the society change from liberal to conservative - from conservative to liberal as appropriate. You also change your side as per need.

Abridged from a Ted Talk.
Jonathan Haidt: The moral roots of liberals and conservatives

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Political Sociology - Introduction

Article needs good amount of further modification and development.

Focus Areas of Political Sociology

Two distinct areas of focus are there in political sociology. One area is concerned with the social basis of power in all institutional sectors of society. In this line of enquiry, the social stratification is studied for its role in organized politics. The second area focuses on the organizational analysis of political groups and political leadership. This focus gives rise to the study of both formal and informal party organization, and  its linkages to the governmental bureaucracy, the legal system, interest groups, and the electorate at large. This approach is termed as institutional or organizational point of view in political sociology.

Social Stratification and Emergence of Political System and the Group Holding Power - Karl Marx

Karl Marx's conclusion is that social stratification is the result of  the social relations generated by the mode of production. It is Marx’s view that the political system derives from the pattern of social stratification.

Political scientists and sociologists pointed out that Marx's theory  fails to consider the consequences of differing types of political institutions on societal change. It does not study the role of individuals and groups in developing appropriate political institutions and their durability or longevity.

Distinct Political System and Institutions - Max Weber

As a sociologist, Weber agreed with Marx, that social structure as a basis for analyzing politics. But according to Weber, social stratification is the result of economic position and social status—prestige and honor. In his essay “Class, Status, Party” (1921), Weber postulated that there is a historical process going on that separating political institutions from economic and social structure. Political institutions are therefore worthy of direct sociological inquiry as an independent source of societal change.

Social Stratification and Political System - Further Development

The social stratification based political system theory  has seen the emergence  “interest group” theories. Political competition and conflict reflects the demands of specific interest groups—economic, professional, organizational, and even ethnic–religious. The governmental bureaucracy and the political parties have emerged as new strata and there are also now elements in the theory of interest groups.

At the empirical level, studies derived from a social stratification theory of politics have been characterized by a progressive refinement of categories of analysis based on more refined measures of social status. Based on analysis of voting statistics and sample surveys, political party affiliation and voting behavior of the electorate is clustered to find differences in political behavior of social strata. In the multiple-party election systems prevalent in large number of countries, sample surveys have been utilized to describe voting behavior in terms of such variables as occupation, income, education, status, ethnicity, and religion. Empirical work has been done on the relevance of personality and social-psychological variables for understanding voting patterns. But, these empirical researches are limited to  election decisions. Still,  they have not probed issues like party membership and funding, which are also important political outcome variables.

The empirical studies have supported the view that advanced industrialism produces a “middle-majority” politics. “Middle-majority politics” implies the decline of clearly identified working and middle classes with working class as the dominant or majority group and the emergence of a less differentiated social group. The gap between the working class and the middle class is declining, and the political process is developing into  pragmatic bargaining over specific issues instead of straight class conflict (Lipset, 1960).  These stratification theories give less emphasis to the impact of foreign affairs on the political orientations of the electorate.

Systematic research into political opinion gives deeper meaning to studies of political behavior and political participation. The techniques of opinion measurement enables the measurement of the attitude structure existing in the relevant society group toward specific political issues, political candidates, and political institutions. These studies focus on the detailed identification of those parts of the social structure which are characterized as active political orientation, absence of political orientation, weak political orientation, politically active in only to very specific interests and issues etc. Political apathy has been found to be concentrated in lower-income groups and  it is wide spread even in other higher  income groups and even in people with high levels of educational attainment. In one sense, these findings drive home the point that man is not a political animal, a view that  has long been recognized as valid by most political leaders as well as religious leaders.

The concept of alienation, focuses on understanding the social and psychological processes which produce a withdrawal or disengagement from political interest and political participation. Political apathy appears to  include both alienation and socially inherited disinterest in politics. Available research highlights the social groups particularly vulnerable to alienation, such as youth, minorities, and intellectuals. Some studies point out that alienation and apathy is not a “steady state” but an orientation which can gradually or suddenly be reversed and produce direct intervention in political process in the form of protest movements. Some new political groups emerge out of these protest movements.

The opinion measurement leads to the identification and analysis of popular ideologies.  Political “Ideology” is a comprehensive, rigidly held, and explicit political belief system or “world view.”

“Political socialization” refers  to the process of internalization of political values, including the impact of the family and educational institutions. Under conditions of rapid social change, the relevance of initial socialization variables in explaining mass political perspectives must be amplified by an understanding of the impact of education and involvement in secondary associations.

Empirical studies of election campaigns reveal that limited shifts in political attitudes and in actual voting behavior take place in a given election campaign. But this limited amount of change is clearly crucial in determining the outcome. The research literature supports the  proposition that long-term political socialization has greater impact than the communication blitz  in a given political campaign. Both long-term and short-term mass media communicatino and party organization are key variables in both maintaining and molding political opinions. The notion of “the politics of mass society” (Kornhauser 1959) proposes that community and associational affiliations are getting weak in determiniing political decisions of individuals and activities of the party organizations and the mass media communications are getting stronger.

Political Institutions - Political Parties

Elite analysis

Gaetano Mosca (1896) and Robert Michels (1911) served as central figures in stimulating empirical studies of elites in the sociology of political organization. Political parties and their auxiliary institutions have been subject to various forms of empirical analysis. Typologies of party organization have been created, using such categories as “patronage,” “ideological,” “programmatic.”  The writings of the University of Chicago empirical school of political research, which included Charles Merriam, Harold Lasswell, and Harold Gosnell and which in turn came to be called political behavior research, were crucial in  study of party organizations (Gosnell 1927; Lasswell 1936). These studies focused on the effectiveness of differing types of party organization on the performance of such activities as the recruitment of new leaders, the posing of political alternatives, the maintenance of linkages between the electorate and the government bureaucracy, the mobilization of mass political participation, and the formulation of consent. The literature has  many detailed case studies of political parties and covers a wide range of political systems. Comparative analysis mainly takes the form of paired comparisons (as between, for example, the United States and the Soviet Union). Efforts to study the dilemmas facing similar groups of nations, such as the developing nations are also made.

In some studies,  the focal issue is the capacity of the economic and industrial sector to influence and control political decisions. There seems to be widespread agreement among political sociologists  that, with the growth of a complex division of labor, industrial and economic organizations are constricted in their capacity for direct management of the political process. The economic leaders do not have the skills or programmatic approach to maintain complete dominance over the political party system, be it a single-party or a multiparty structure. The separation of ownership from property control contributes to this process. The development of trade union organizations often serves as a countervailing force to the political power of owners and managers of economic organization in those societies where labor unions are autonomous organizations. Institutional analysis also points  to the growth of professional associations developing their ability to exercise political power in the name of both science and public welfare. Large governmental bureaucracies are also developing into important players in the political system.

Paralleling the role played by economic institutions is the role of the military. The military have considerable actual and potential power because of the vast resources they command and because of the fundamental importance of national security.  Political sociologists have sought to describe and account for the various forms of political balance which operate between modern political parties and the military. There is hardly a society in which the military do not have some political power. The influence of the military varies from that of a pressure group to that of an active coalition partner in the domestic political structure.

There has been a growth of professional and voluntary associations that tend to accumulate political power, and these organizations have been studied, on a selective case study basis, as examples of pressure groups. The social structure of an industrial society or one in the process of modernization produces a variety of groups, such as old-age, youth, and ethnic, cultural, and religious associations, which generate political demands through their associational representatives. In a multiparty system these pressure groups seek direct access to the parliamentarians and administrative leaders and tend to weaken the party.

Modern elites tend increasingly to be selected by criteria of achievement rather than on the basis of inherited social background, and as a result they tend to be recruited from broader and broader social strata.

The literature of national power structures tends to focus on the analysis of specific elite groups. In particular, there are available a series of national studies in depth which deal with the recruitment and socialization of the parliamentary elites. In addition, attention has been paid on a comparative basis to the differing patterns of pressure groups, especially economic pressure groups, in influencing the political process.

 In the analysis of the United States political system, the residues of economic determinism are to be found in C. Wright Mills’s “power elite” concept (1956), in which the political  leadership is seen as a group of a capitalists whose actions and attitudes are  transformed, in part, by the pressures of international relations.  The leadership consists of people recruited from in the industrial/service and military sectors and the professional political elite. The economic elites are the dominant group and they fuse with the military, while the political elites have secondary and circumscribed roles.

By contrast, a variety of writers, including Robert Dahl, Talcott Parsons, Daniel Bell, and Morris Janowitz, identify a bargaining model in the United States, characterized by a more pluralistic pattern of political power. The elites are seen to be drawn from much more differentiated groups and subject to a system of countervailing checks and balances. In this approach,  the basic political issue of interest is not so much the arbitrary exercise of power by a small, integrated elite as it is the necessity of creating conditions under which a differentiated elite can make effective decisions. In the United States, according to the analysis of Shils (1956) and others, elite integration presents special problems because the creative role of the politician is not adequately understood and the respect accorded him by the other elite sectors and by the electorate at large is relatively low and unstable.

Empirical research into elite structures has distinguished between local—community, metropolitan, and regional—elites and national elite systems. In the United States both the power elite concept and the bargaining model highlight the separation of economic power and political elites at the local level. A rich body of historical and analytical material describes the process of “bifurcation” of local elites in the United States. According to the power elite model, this is the result of a shift of political interest to the national arena; for the bargaining model, it is the outgrowth of the process of “democratization,” which brings representatives of ethnic, religious, and lower-status groups into political power.

Comparative Studies of Nations

Joseph Schumpeter, in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942), developed a comprehensive and generic analysis of the social and political institutions on which capitalism was based. His ideas about the transformation of entrepreneurial activities into a large-scale organization format, the negative role of intellectuals in the politics of capitalism, and the decline of representative institutions have been seminal formulations.

The central issue in the study of new nations after independence hinges on the limitations and actual breakdown of multiparty systems in supplying the political leadership necessary for economic and social development. Scholarly writing in this area has passed from a focus on individual case studies to a variety of types of comparative analysis. One approach is that found in Edward Shils’s Political Development in the New States (1959–1960), where he presents a series of generalized governmental types, such as traditional oligarchies and modernizing oligarchies, and analyzes their political dilemmas. Gabriel A. Almond and James S. Coleman, in The Politics of the Developing Areas (1960), follow a similar approach, but they make use of statistical indicators to explain these types of political regimes. Alternatively, comparative analysis has been pursued by exploring specific hypotheses related to a particular institution, such as the governmental bureaucracy or economic enterprise. An example of this approach is Morris Janowitz’ The Military in the Political Development of New Nations (1964), in which the limitations on the capacity of the military to supply political leadership are in part accounted for in terms of internal organizational and professional factors.

A fully comprehensive approach to comparative political sociology must encompass the distinction between industrialized and nonindustrialized nations. Such work has been stimulated partly by the desire to make use of the data that are available and to produce quantitative comparisons and findings even though the problems of the validity of international statistical sources and the comparability of survey findings have not been solved. Karl Deutsch and his associates are representative of the efforts to uncover patterns of political behavior through refined statistical analysis of the standard census-type data for all the political divisions of the world. By contrast, more selectively and intensively, Almond and Verba (1963) have employed survey research techniques in countries of Europe and in Mexico to probe both political participation and socialization of fundamental political values.

The development of the “behavioral persuasion” in the study of politics does in fact encourage a focus on routine and ongoing processes, rather than on crises and decision-making points. But, there is a body of monographic literature which describes the outbreaks of political conflict—when the pursuit of group interest leads to action outside the institutionalized forms of political change. This type of phenomenological research has come to encompass the full range of politics, from community conflict to relations between nations. Social-psychological approaches derived from the study of collective behavior or collective problem solving have been employed to handle these empirical materials. The sources of political conflict and the means by which consensus is created are central issues for political sociologists.

Political Sociology's Role in Political Theory

It is only since the end of World War II, that some political sociologists have become interested in theoretical formulations which explore explicitly the conditions under which political democracy would be maximized. Political sociology has the goal of formulating social, psychological, and economic conditions under which political democracy would be maximized. Some theorists, as represented by Schumpeter, hold that elections are the hallmark of democratic society and that, therefore, the study  of the election process is a key task of sociological research. Others, such as Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom, are concerned with the formulation of criteria which encompass the practices of administrative and community agencies.  Political sociology is also concerned with the analysis of the economic, social, and psychological preconditions for political democracy.

The article, initially  is a modified version of:

Visit for References and Bibliography

Political Sociology: a New Grammar of Politics
By Ali Ashraf, L N Sharma

Political Sociology - Lecture Notes

Political Sociology - Introduction

Values to be Promoted to Promote and Strengthen Democracy

In the concept of culture, values change behavior. Values are ends and means which are actively promoted in a society.  We visualize a large number of values in promotion in a society at a point time. Some may be related family life, some to education, some to economic activities that include entrepreneurship and employment. Some are related to political activities also. In this note, I want to write about values that are to be promoted to promote and strengthen democracy.

The motivation to write this note has come from a comment that I made in FaceBook to a post of Mr. Sajid Khan.

"In a democracy, a quick acceptance of the election result is necessary and then the effort has to be to stop illegal and ill advised actions of the elected government. People should not hate government. They have to enter into dialogue with the government. No more hate language. It is ok during elections. The tongues who are made pungent during elections have to be made sweet now.

People have to follow the Marathi saying after elections. Til gud khao, God bolo. Eat the sweet of til and talk sweetly. The akhaadaa will open after some time for competition once again. The practice has to be done more peacefully. Competition can be fierce."

I posted it as an independent post also afterwards and there is a comment against this entry. That made me to take up writing this entry.

At the first instance I am collecting various articles that are relevant for this project.

A good article that is discussing East Asian values and democracy.

Openness and Transparency - Pillars for Democracy, Trust and Progress
By Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

Democratic Values — Liberty, Equality, Justice
Liberty and equality.

American Political Culture

India - Constitutional value

Culture, Democracy and Development:
The Impact of Formal and Informal Institutions on Development
By Deepak Lal
James S. Coleman Professor of International Development Studies,
University of California, Los Angeles
September 20, 1999

The renewal of social democracy and basic values

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Political Sociology

Keith Faulks (2000) defines political sociology as follows:

"At its broadest level, political sociology is concerned with the relationship between politics and society. Its distinctiveness within the social sciences lies in its acknowledgement that political actors, including parties, pressure groups and social movements, operate within a wider social context. Political actors therefore inevitably shape, and in turn are shaped by, social structures such as gender, class and nationality. Such social structures ensure that political influence within society is unequal. It follows from this that a key concept in political sociology is that power, where power is defined as the capacity to achieve one's objectives even when those objectives are in conflict with the interests of another actor. Political sociologists therefore invariably return to the following question: which individuals and groups in society possess the capacity to pursue their interests, and how is this power exercised and institutionalized."

Political Sociology: A Critical Introduction (Paperback) by Keith Faulks
(Preview facility is there)

LSE (London School of Economics) - M.Sc. - Political Sociology

Political Sociology - Bibliography

Allardt, Erik; and Littunen, YrjoÖ (editors) 1964 Cleavages, Ideologies and Party Systems: Contributions to Comparative Political Sociology. Transactions of the Westermarck Society, Vol. 10. Helsinki: The Society.

Almond, Gabriel A.; and Verba, Sidney 1963 The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton Univ. Press.

Dahl, Robert A. (1961) 1963 Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Duverger, Maurice (1951) 1962 Political Parties: Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State. 2d English ed., rev. New York: Wiley; London: Methuen. → First published in French.

Key, V. O. Jr. 1961 Public Opinion and American Democracy. New York: Knopf.

Kornhauser, William 1959 The Politics of Mass Society. Glencoe, III.; Free Press.

Lasswell, Harold D. 1936 Politics: Who Gets What, When, How? New York: McGraw-Hill.

Lipset, Seymour M. 1960 Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

Marx, Karl (1852) 1964 The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. New York: International Publishers. → First published in German. A paperback edition was published in 1964.

Marx, Karl; and Engels, Friedrich (1845–1846) 1939 The German Ideology. Parts 1 and 3. With an introduction by R. Pascal. New York: International Publishers. → The full text was first published in 1932 as Die deutsche Ideologic and republished by Dietz Verlag in 1953.

Michels, Robert (1911) 1959 Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. New York: Dover. → First published as Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modemen Demokratie. A paperback edition was published in 1962 by Collier.

Mills, C. Wright 1956 The Power Elite. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Mosca, Gaetano (1896) 1939 The Ruling Class (Elementi di scienza politica). New York: McGraw-Hill

Neumann, Franz (1942) 1963 Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933–1944. 2d ed. New York: Octagon Books.

Rokkan, Stein (editor) 1962 Approaches to the Study of Political Participation. Ada sociologica 6, no. 1/2.

Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1942) 1950 Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. 3d ed. New York: Harper; London: Allen & Unwin. → A paperback edition was published by Harper in 1962.

Weber, Max (1919) 1946 Politics as a Vocation. Pages 77–128 in Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Translated and edited by Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Weber, Max (1921) 1946 Class, Status, Party. Pages 180–195 in Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Translated and edited by Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Updated on 19 February 2017,  20 July 2013

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Concepts of Ethos and Ethics

In modern usage, ethos denotes the disposition, character, or fundamental values particular to a specific person, people, corporation, culture, or movement.