SA 533: Power and Politics: Governing Human Collectives (T.U.syllabus)


Power and politics has remained one of the central experience and concern of the human condition throughout the ages. Drawing from a wide range of sources from the social sciences and the humanities, the primary objective of this course is to familiarize the students with the foundational issues of political power and authority and its linkages with state, governance, and development. This paper is designed as a text-based exploration and will thus require the students to immerse into original texts to develop their comprehension, analytic, and writing skills. While the list of texts offers a wide intellectual and historical sweep, the teaching and reading will focus on the core issues listed on each Unit.

I: Conceptualizing Human Collectives

A. From boards to human groups

B. Basic attributes of human groups: norms, rules, power, politics and authority

C. Formal organization and their basic characteristics

D. The political community

II: Foundational Classics

A. Emergence of political power

B. The idea of state

C. Government and Representation

III. Political Traditions and Practices

A. Politics and power in tribal societies

B. Nature of political leadership

C. Pre-state formations

D. Anthropology/sociology and the study of politics

IV. Comparative Readings in Asian Political Systems

A. Confucian authority

B. East Asian Developments

C. Hindu and Muslim authority

D. South Asian politics

V. Politics and Power Under Different Forms of Regimes

A. Despotic and dictatorial regime: Thomas Hobbes on the “Leviathan” State, prohibition of civic right of the population, political processes guided by the interest and control of a minority of the ruling population

B. Democratic regimes under western liberal tradition: John Lock: the state as a defender of civic right of the population; J.S. Mills: representative government; Polyarchy, competitive process and majority support as the basis of establishing political legitimacy; political parties and interest groups as mechanisms of interest articulation and political socialization; role of civil society.

C. Socialist critique to the western form of democratic regime: Karl Marx: the instrumental role of the state; the concept of dominant class, power block and relative autonomy of ht e state; socialist regimes: a critique.

VI. Political Violence and the Human Condition

A. Forms of violence

B. Ethnonationalism

C. State coercion

D. Transitional conflicts

VII. Patterns of Political Transitions and Consolidations

A. Regime change

B. Social movements and intensity of change of the regime

C. Transitional challenges

VIII. State order, state capacity and authority

A. Establishing the rule of law

B. The culture and politics of corruption

C. Forms of state control: coercion, hegemony and hegemonic formations

D. Society-state interface

E. Limiting state capacity

IX. Discourses and Critique of Power, State, Development, and Govern mentality

A. Embodied power

B. Pre-modern and modern logic of power

C. Bureaucratic reason and unreasoned

D. Emergence of a development state

E. International development regime

X. Globalization and Governance

A. Historical context of globalization and global connection of developing societies

B. Shift from ‘govern’ to governance

C. Public administration reform

D. Global governance

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