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About this book

This succinct but comprehensive textbook leads students through the various aspects of their Politics and IR degree. It includes a clear overview of the issues, theories, methods and controversies with which scholars across the discipline have engaged alongside guidance on research and study skills such as critical thinking, distinguishing facts from values and academic reading. Furthermore, it helps students to prepare for a career and a lifetime’s interest and involvement in politics.

From pre-course reading, to core text on introductory Politics and IR modules, to handy reference guide across a degree program, this Companion provides a one-stop resource, packed with tips for succeeding at university and beyond. Drawing on a wide range of international examples and written accessibly with no expectation of prior familiarity with the subject it will appeal to students across the world.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Part I: What is Politics and What is International Relations

Abstract
Assuming that most readers of this book are either already committed to, or seriously considering, studying politics and/or international relations, it seems sensible to begin by trying to define and explore these terms. After all, those who are planning to spend part of their life in studying a subject need to know what it is they are studying. Yet introductory chapters exploring the nature of a subject or discipline are often among the most difficult (and one suspects, the least read). Defining politics turns out to be far from straightforward. There are brief, snappy one-liners that are eminently quotable but often raise more questions than they answer (see Box 1.1). There are similar problems in defining international relations. Brown and Ainley (2009, 1) offer three. Firstly ‘the diplomatic-strategic relations of states’, secondly ‘cross-border transactions of all kinds, political, economic and social’, and thirdly ‘globalisation…for example world communication, transport and financial systems, global business corporations and the putative emergence of a global society’.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 2. Part II: The Study of Politics and International Relations Section One: The evolution of the study and practice of politics

Abstract
Politics has been studied and written about for at least two and a half thousand years. This section provides a very brief overview of the evolution of the theory and practice of politics in the West from the fifth century BCE to modern times. It discusses some of the major Western perspectives on politics of previous ages and their continuing importance for modern politics. Past political thinkers addressed big political questions of their day, many of which remain relevant. Where does power lie? What is the best form of government? What are the causes of political instability and change? How should scarce resources be distributed among individuals and communities? Why and how far should we obey the law? Why do states find it so difficult to live at peace with each other? How far can war ever be justified? Past thinkers naturally focused on the key issues and problems of their time. Thus the ancient Greeks were familiar with a wide variety of political systems and frequent regime change, so it was natural that they should speculate on the best form of government and the causes of political stability and change. Similarly, from the late Roman Empire through to the end of the Middle Ages a key issue was the relationship between the temporal power of the state and the spiritual power of the church.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 3. Section Two: Modern political science and political ideas

Abstract
The last section involved a very broad survey of the interaction of political practice and theory over two and a half thousand years. This section concentrates on the development of the modern political science coupled with the decline and subsequent revival of interest in political ideas. Although politics has been analysed and written about for over two and a half thousand years, it was only in the 20th century that its systematic study in universities really took off. Degree courses and scholarly research into politics exploded initially in the United States. By the 1920s, politics was on the curriculum of over a hundred American universities. There were similar, if generally later and less extensive, developments around the Western world. The systematic study of international relations grew rather later and more slowly. A significant catalyst was the First World War and the need to avoid a similar catastrophe in the future, but international relations were only more systematically studied after the Second World War and ensuing Cold War [see Section 3, below]. Not only were far more people studying politics; the content and methodology of the subject was transformed. Partly this reflected a substantial increase in the number of states, and a widening range of systems of government and styles of politics, as a consequence of the disintegration of old empires and the emergence of many new politically independent sovereign states, making comparative politics far more extensive and complex.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 4. Section Three: International relations: politics beyond the water’s edge

Abstract
Most of the various approaches to the study of politics discussed in the previous section have focused on politics and government within states. Even comparative politics substantially involves comparing the internal political structures and processes of independent sovereign states across the world, rather than the politics of relations between states. Interstate politics, or international relations, has long been considered significantly different from intrastate politics, so much so that it has almost come to be regarded as a separate discipline. We have shown that some ancient thinkers such as Thucydides* were interested in interstate politics, but the academic study of international relations (often shortened to IR) really took off only with the First World War and its aftermath – although a number of earlier political thinkers, notably Machiavelli* (1469–1527), Hugo Grotius* (1583–1645), Hobbes* (1588–1679), Baruch Spinoza* (1632–1697), and Immanuel Kant* (1724–1804), contributed significantly to the stock of ideas. Politics among states often seemed to have little to do with politics within states, which normally involved a framework of law and order under a widely recognised sovereign power.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 5. Section Four: Globalization

Abstract
Globalisation has contributed to the normative turn in International Relations. As we shall see in this section, the changes in the world reflect a changing global landscape brought about by globalisation and changes in the nature of political economy. The globalisation thesis revisits arguments about the state-centric understandings of international relations. This section discusses the phenomena of globalisation Globalisation, simply put, denotes the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction. It refers to a shift or transformation in the scale of human organisation that links distant communities and expands the reach of power relations across the world’s regions and continents. It is more than increased interconnectivity such as transactions or interdependency between countries which can be defined as internationalisation
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 6. Part III: Your Degree, Study Skills, Methodology, and Research-Led Employability Section One: What to expect from your politics or international relations course

Abstract
Approaching a new topic can feel daunting. University study is no different. Many of you will be approaching aspects of your university programme for the first time. To make the most of your time you need to be able to navigate your way around your programme. On the surface it looks as if politics and International Relations courses vary considerably, both among countries and among universities. However a closer inspection reveals that most offer some broadly comparable main elements. Here we meet the first terminology barrier. In universities we can appear to use different terms to mean the same thing, which is confusing. In this book we will use ‘programme’ to mean the named degree programme you are studying. This is likely to be a BA with a degree title of ‘Politics’ or ‘International Relations’ (single honours) or a joint honours such as ‘Politics and French’ or ‘International Relations and History’. You will be on a programme for a specific number of years. The programme will be made up of a certain number of courses or modules. These will last either a term, a semester, or all year. Each course is worth a specific number of credits and there is likely to be a minimum number of credits needed to pass the year/obtain your degree.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 7. Section Two: Study Skills

Abstract
You may feel that you are ready to study at degree level, but often students find studying at university very different to school or college. Universities tend to have different teaching methods, larger classes, and a greater degree of independent learning than high school. Working out how to succeed at university by ensuring that you acquire the right skills is as important as ensuring you get on top of the course content. University is not dissimilar to a gym. Just buying a gym membership will not make you fitter or stronger – you need to make use of the membership, go to the gym and ensure you know how to use the equipment effectively. The same is true at university – you need to put work into both understanding the content of your course and developing the research skills you will need. Whilst your department and the wider university offer many forms of help to students, the primary responsibility for studying and learning lies with you – the expectation is that you will be self-motivated, you will organise your time effectively, and you will work to the best of your ability in an independent manner. If you don’t know already, now it is time to find out how to become an independent learner. Most of the skills required for success on a university politics course are generic rather than subject-specific – in other words they are similar to the skills required in many subjects, particularly in other social sciences and the humanities (Dunleavy 1986).
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 8. Section Three: Methodology

Abstract
The subject matter of politics essentially involves the study of human beings, how they interact with one another and the power relations among individuals and among groups. Politics is therefore a social science. It is increasingly important that as undergraduates you have an appreciation of how we as social scientists conduct research. There are a number of methods used to study politics and international relations and you are likely to encounter most, if not all of them at university, especially in your reading. The key terms you are likely to come across during your time at university are qualitative and quantitative methodology. As part of your degree you may take a research methods course, and a dissertation can involve some original empirical research.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 9. Section Four: Research-led employability

Abstract
We identified a range of skills that you need to develop or hone whilst at university earlier in this section. This section now discusses how these are key skills in the workplace and outlines how various employability skills are embedded in your politics or International Relations degree. Politics and international relations graduates do not have a career path that some other degrees might have. Most (if not all) chemical engineers become chemical engineers. But students of politics or International Relations face a breadth of career choice that can be confusing. To try and guide you, we draw a distinction between those careers that can be seen as politics related (the civil service; local government; the European Commission; working with an elected politician, a political party, a political lobbyist, a pressure group, or a think tank) and other careers. We also highlight avenues for further study after your undergraduate degree.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 10. Part IV: Key Political Terms and Concepts

Abstract
This part of the book explores some of the key terms and concepts that students of politics may encounter in their reading and research. Most of the terms and concepts discussed here have already been introduced in earlier parts of the book and some have already been discussed extensively; where the latter is the case there seems little point in duplicating earlier analysis here, so use the index to locate further information and analysis in the rest of the text. While some definitions are reasonably straightforward and relatively widely agreed upon, many others are essentially contested concepts: there are competing interpretations, sometimes reflecting very different political perspectives. These terms and concepts are explored in rather more depth. References to related concepts in this part of the book are printed in bold and references to key thinkers discussed in Part V are asterisked. (The dates of these thinkers are not included here, as this information is provided in Part V.)
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot

Chapter 11. Part V: Key Thinkers

Abstract
This part concentrates on thinkers, political philosophers or political scientists who have made a significant contribution to political ideas and the analysis of politics. It excludes almost all those who are best known for practising politics, although the distinction is not always clear cut. The thought of some (such as Gandhi* and Stalin*) is remembered substantially because of what they did. Any list of key thinkers is likely to be contentious for both its inclusions and exclusions. A standard criticism of such lists is that they largely consist of dead white males. This is certainly the case here. They are mostly dead and predominantly white and male. Yet they are substantially representative of the writers cited and studied on politics courses around the Western world and reflect the bias in Western society over the whole period in which politics has been studied systematically. While additional modern political thinkers and political scientists might have been included, that would have made the list far longer and perhaps even more contentious. Reputations rise and fall, and it is far from clear who of those writing today will still be studied by generations to come. Thus this list is very sparing in including those still living, and some of these made their reputations decades ago.
Robert Leach, Simon Lightfoot
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