PS40week2readingnotes - PS40 Week 2 Reading KS Chapter 1...

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PS40 – Week 2 Reading KS: Chapter 1 – The Logic of American Politics Politics is the process through which individuals and groups reach agreement on a course of common, or collective, action – even as they may continue to disagree on the goals that action is intended to achieve. 1) Constitutions and Governments a. Power versus Authority i. Constitution of a nation establishes its governing institutions and the set of rules and procedures these institutions must and must not follow to reach and enforce collective agreements. ii. Offices make up government institutions; they confer on their occupant’s specific authority and responsibilities. b. Institutional Durability i. First, with authority assigned to the office and not the individual, established institutions persist well beyond the tenure of the individuals who occupy them. Leads to continuity ii. Second, the people whose lives are affected by them make plans on the expectation that current arrangements will remain. iii. Even those who want change typically find it hard to agree on a proposed alternative. c. Political System’s Logic i. Fundamental belief that those entrusted with authority must periodically stand before the citizenry in elections. ii. Tied with the belief that government must protect certain individual liberties even when a majority of the public insists otherwise. 2) Collective Action Problems a. Coordination i. Members of the group must decide individually what they want, what they are prepared to do, and how to coordinate their efforts with those of others.
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ii. Increases with the size and diversity of the group. iii. Rise from uncertainty and imperfect/insufficient information. b. Prisoner’s Dilemma i. Arises whenever people decide that even though they support some of the collective undertaking, they are personally better off pursuing an activity that rewards them individually despite undermining the collective effort. ii. Story of the suspects that get caught and are offered a way out. They both understand that they are better off staying quiet, but because they are separated they think the other will squeal, leaving the silent one to take the fall. This leads to both squealing and going to jail. iii. One solution to this is to make reneging and defection very expensive. iv. Another solution is to create institutions that guarantee that agreements are honored. c. Free-Rider Problem i. Problem with large groups in that since each individual is held less accountable; they will be likely to free ride on the other group members’ contributions. This stems from the fact that the group receives collective benefits. ii. Rises when citizens realize that their small contribution to the collective enterprise will not affect its success or failure.
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