Approaches to political studies

Approaches to political studies

Approaches to political studies
This is a module framework. It can be viewed online or downloaded as a zip file.

As taught Autumn Semester 2010.

This module introduces students to alternative theoretical approaches to the study of political phenomena. We consider the different forms of analysing, explaining, and understanding politics associated with approaches such as behaviouralism, rational choice theory, institutionalism, Marxism, feminism, interpretive theory and post-modernism.

This module shows that the different approaches are based upon contrasting ‘ontological’ suppositions about the nature of politics, and they invoke alternative ‘epistemological’ assumptions about how we acquire valid knowledge of politics and international relations. We examine questions such as: what constitutes valid knowledge in political science and international relations? Should political science methodology be the same as the methods employed in the natural sciences? Can we give causal explanations of social and political phenomena? Can we ever be objective in our analysis? What is the relationship between knowledge and power?

An understanding of the different approaches will be invaluable to students as they pursue their studies at levels 2 and 3, and will provide the opportunity for students to adopt an approach that corresponds to their own questions, research topics, interests, and their own ontological and epistemological assumptions.

Module Code: M12037

This module is suitable for study at: undergraduate level 2

Credits: 20

Dr Mark Wenman

Dr. Mark Wenman is a Lecturer in political theory in the School of Politics and International Relations and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ), and a member of The Analysis of Democratic Cultures Research Group.He completed his Ph.D. in the Ideology and Discourse Analysis Programme at the University of Essex in 2005, and before that he was educated at Birkbeck College (London), the University of Westminster, and Christ's Hospital. His area of expertise is contemporary democratic theory, with a particular focus on the influence of post-structuralism on Anglo-American political thought. He is primarily interested in theories of agonistic democracy, in the impact of multiculturalism on democratic institutions and practices, and in the need to rethink democratic agency - or the constituent power of the people - in the context of globalisation and the digital revolution.

He has published scholarly articles on these topics in journals such as Contemporary Political Theory, Philosophy and Social Criticism and Political Studies, and is currently completing a monograph entitled Agonistic Democracy: constituent power in the era of globalisation to be published with Cambridge University Press in 2012.

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Dr Mark Wenman

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