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BPSC-101: Understanding Political Theory

BPSC-101: Understanding Political Theory

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BPSC-101/ASST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BPSC-101

Assignment Name: Understanding Political Theory

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1. Discuss the relationship between political theory and other inter –related terms. 20

Ans) Political theory can be distinguished from words like political science, political philosophy, and political ideology, but many people use these phrases interchangeably. Political theory and political science differ from one another due to the broad shift in intellectual perspective that modern science has caused. Political science has made an effort to offer tenable laws and generalisations about politics and political behaviour. By holding it up to philosophical or ethical standards, political theory analyses political phenomena, processes, and institutions as well as actual political behaviour. It examines the issue of the ideal political system, which is a subset of a broader and more basic issue, namely the optimal way for a person to live their life within a wider community. Study of the classical texts is a crucial part of the discipline since it addresses perennial concerns while addressing immediate and local questions. A great literary work that, despite its local setting, addresses enduring issues in life and society has all the elements of a classic in political theory. It is the epitome of eternal knowledge and belongs to all of humanity as opposed to just one particular culture, area, people, or time.


Political theories in particular cannot be taken as the correct or complete explanation of an occurrence. Future interpretations of an event's meaning from fresh perspectives, each of which explains and analyses from a certain standpoint or issue in political life, are always possible. Political theory is crucial in this endeavour as well since it provides a view of politics that is superior to that of the average person. Political theory and political science don't conflict because they have different scopes of study and jurisdictions, not because they have different goals. Political theory provides ideas, concepts, and theories that are then incorporated into political science for the purposes of analysis, description, explanation, and criticism.


Political philosophy addresses different concepts, like the difference between "is" and "ought," as well as more fundamental political topics like what justice is. Political philosophy is a subset of normative political theory since it makes an effort to connect disparate ideas. Though not all political theorists are political philosophers, it is perhaps appropriate to claim that all political philosophers are theorists. Understanding political philosophy, which is a complicated activity, requires examining the varied ways in which its recognised masters have engaged in it. No single philosopher or historical era can be considered to have definitively defined it, just as no single painter or school of painting has ever executed everything we understand by painting.


Political thought is the collective opinion of a community, and it comprises the writings and speeches of the more intelligent members, including professional politicians, political commentators, social reformers, and everyday citizens. Thought can take the shape of political treatises, academic works, speeches, choices made by the government, as well as songs and prose that express the suffering of the populace. The history of the 20th century is an example of how thought is time-bound. In a nutshell, political philosophy consists of theories that make an effort to explain political behaviour, as well as values to assess it and strategies to influence it.


Unlike philosophy, political theory relates to the hypothesis of a single person, typically expressed in treatises as models of explanation. It includes theories of many institutions, including as the state, the law, representation, and elections. Explanatory and comparative research methods are used. Political theory is concerned with/with the links between concepts and conditions, and it aims to explain the attitudes and behaviours coming from everyday political life and generalise about them in a specific setting.


Q2. Explain what is politics. 20

Ans) Politics is a practical activity that involves discussion and conflict over how to best organise human potential. It is therefore a matter of power, or more specifically, the ability of social actors, organisations, and institutions to preserve or alter their physical and social environments. It concerns the resources that support this capability as well as the forces that shape and sway how it is used. Since everyone is familiar with the definition of "politics," some may even find the inquiry unnecessary. What one reads about or sees on television is what is referred to as "politics." It focuses on the actions of politicians, particularly those of political party leaders. What is the purpose of politics? What exactly makes these actions "political" and what is the definition of politics? If one begins with a definition that frames political activities, one may claim that politics is concerned with the power struggles among politicians. The majority of individuals would undoubtedly agree with this definition. Also likely to be agreed upon is the definition of politics as the interstate relations on a global scale. Politics is about the distribution of power. Power, however, is not a nonexistent thing that exists nowhere. It is embodied in people.


Wherever someone has the ability to impose their will on others and force them to obey whether they want to or not, that person has power. As a result, a situation with leadership, dominance, and subordination develops. Max Weber began by stating that the definition of politics was "very broad-based and comprises any sort of independent leadership in action" in his well-known 1918 lecture, "Politics as a Vocation." Politics is present wherever such leadership in action occurs. According to our definition, political refers to any circumstance in which there are power dynamics, i.e., when individuals are restrained, dominated, or otherwise subject to authority. It would also cover circumstances where people were restrained by a system of institutions or organisations rather than by their own free will.


A broad definition of politics has the benefit of demonstrating that it is not always a topic of government or always concerned with the actions of politicians. Politics can be found whenever there is a structure of power and a battle to obtain or hold positions of authority. In this sense, one can discuss "university politics" or the politics of labour unions. One can talk about "sexual politics," which refers to the dominance of men over women or efforts to change this relationship.


However, in a more constrained sense, everything is politics, which has an impact on our lives through the agency of those who exercise and manage state authority as well as the goals for which they do so. After beginning with a very wide description of politics in terms of general leadership in the lecture., Weber later produced a far more specific definition: He stated, "We seek to understand by politics just the leadership, or the influencing of leadership, of a political organisation, and consequently, nowadays, of a state." According to this viewpoint, the state serves as the primary political organisation. A political question is one that has to do with the state, who possesses state power, how that authority is used, the implications of that usage, etc.


Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


Q1. Write a note on classical Liberalism. 10

Ans) Since each person was the greatest arbiter of his or her own interests, the early proponents of liberal philosophy fought for liberty in all spheres and demanded that all transactions must be upheld by the law. The state was not permitted to impose its own definition of "good" on people in their interpersonal interactions. The theory of laissez faire, which advocates freedom from governmental meddling in economic concerns, was inspired by this concept of negative liberty. As a result, the majority of negative liberty proponents, including Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, Herbert Spencer, and Henry Sidgwick, supported a small amount of government. It is referred to be classical liberalism or laissez-faire individualism when political and economic justifications for liberty are combined in this way.


As Europe's feudal system fell apart and a market capitalist society grew in its stead, liberal principles emerged. It evolved into the focal point of classical liberalism, or nineteenth-century liberalism. Along with Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, and other theorists from the 20th century like Friedrich Von Hayek, Robert Nozick, and Milton Friedman, it is frequently linked to John Locke's ideas. The principles of limited government, the rule of law, the inviolability of private property, the freedom to enter into and maintain contracts, and finally the acceptance of one's own fates by oneself are its key defining characteristics.  The majority of people thought that rights were granted by the government in the 1770s. People believed that they only had the rights that the government had decided to provide them. Jefferson, however, asserted that it is the other way around, following the British philosopher John Locke.


Q2. What do you understand by the theory of Surplus Value? Elaborate. 10

Ans) Marx created the surplus value theory to describe how people are exploited in capitalist society. Marx was influenced by the traditional economists' beliefs in this area. The labour theory of value was one he supported. The quantity of labour used in a product's production determines its value. A commodity is also labour. It is a commodity that can be purchased and sold like any other. Labor is the most important of the four production components. The other production factors are pointless without it. The other production elements are land, capital, and organisation. These production elements are only productive when labour is applied to them. They are sterile when there isn't labour. There is no exploitation if a worker is paid a pay that is proportionate to the value they produce, But in capitalism, this is not the case. Insofar as it generates more value than is required for its upkeep, labour is special. The surplus value and the profit of the capitalist are made up of the difference between the value the worker creates and the value paid to the worker as wages.


The earnings of the employees continue to decline and eventually reach subsistence levels as a result of the expansion of capitalism and the increase in competition. The bare minimum wage that can never be decreased is the subsistence wage. It is the absolute minimal salary that can be paid in order to maintain the labour force. As a result, capitalism's fierce competition worsens the condition of the proletariat. This exacerbates the class struggle, which eventually sparks a revolution.


Q3. What is Conservatism? Explain with reference to the views of Edmund Burke. 10

Ans) Traditional institutions and methods are the foundation of the conservative philosophy. This term is thought to have been created by French philosopher Chateaubriand in 1818 when he gave his newspaper the moniker Le Conservator. However, the conservative beliefs and ideas first emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a response to the rapid rate of political and economic change, which was primarily brought on by the French Revolution. Conservatism as a philosophy prioritises what is historically inherited over what is ideal and abstract. According to the organic view of society held by conservatives, society is a living entity made up of people who are interdependent and strongly related rather than a random collection of individuals. Conservatives contend that the political elite should refrain from attempting to alter established social mores and that the government should act as a servant to them. A reactionary attitude favours the restoration of an outdated political and social system, which is a key distinction between conservatism and it. Conservatism aims to uphold tradition and, in a sense, prefers to protect what one already has than seeking something new.


According to Edmund Burke, we should view ourselves as part of "a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born," as well as "a collaboration not merely between those who are living." A conservative is someone who "prefers familiar to unknown, actual to possible, confined to unbounded, near to distant, handy to perfect," according to Michael Oakeshott, another well-known conservative thinker.


Assignment - III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.


Q1. Write a note on the First Wave of feminist political theory. 6

Ans) The 1820s to 1940s saw a significant amount of feminist activity in the United States and the United Kingdom, which was referred to as the first wave of feminism. The Seneca Falls Declaration, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in New York in 1848, is credited with officially starting the wave. The statement emphasised fresh political philosophies and tactics for the feminist cause. Equal property rights and a respectable place for women in the home were the initial goals. It so concentrated on the economic, sexual, and reproductive rights of women. However, towards the start of the twentieth century, feminist campaigners began to focus more on the political rights of women, particularly on women's suffrage or the ability to vote.


Q2. Examine Jean Francois Lyotard’s views on Post –Modernism. 6

Ans) One of the most important figures in postmodern philosophy is the French political philosopher and cultural critic Jean Francois Lyotard. He provides a cogent understanding of postmodernism in his book The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, which is regarded as the bible of postmodernism. It investigates the state of science and technology, the nature of knowledge as it changes, and the postmodern era's emphasis on the replacement of grand narratives with smaller ones. In order to understand postmodernity, he adopts Daniell Bell and Allen Touraine's thesis of the fundamental transformation of industrial society into a post-industrial society in which information is the primary force of production.


Q3. Distinguish between procedural and sustentative democracy. 6

Ans) Procedural democracy emphasises on procedure. Substantive democracy emphasises on the end results.   It is hoped that when we adopt a good procedure, public decisions would be automatically devoted to the public welfare. The Champions of substantive democracy argue that the goal of the democracy, viz. people's welfare should take precedence over its procedure.  Government by the people ( means there would be a certain procedure to elect that govt) would necessarily prove to be government for the people. Democracy contend that while liberal (procedural) democracy is adopted in the political sphere, it tends to sustain capitalism in the economic sphere which promotes the interests of capitalist class and exploitation of working class.


Q4. Examine any one theory of democracy. 6

Ans) Social Democracy: Even though social democracy and communism have similar objectives, social democracy represents a fundamental shift in Marxist theory. By regulating the means of production, rather than via revolution, it seeks to achieve a socialist society. The Marxist critique of democracy, which sees it as a "bourgeois" front for class domination, is rejected by social democrats. Instead, social democrats believe that in order to realise socialist principles, democracy is vital. They support government control of commerce and industry as a way to guarantee the wellbeing of the populace. The Social Democratic Workers' Party was established in Germany in 1869 thanks to the efforts of August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, who also launched this organisation.


Q5. What is the foreign policy dimension of democracy? Elaborate. 6

Ans) The United States and many other European nations, except the European Union, have fiercely advocated democracy as a tool for foreign policy. The government of Ronald Reagan included the democratic agenda into American foreign policy, claiming that it was essential for advancing human rights. The pattern persisted in the 1990s, and one of President Bill Clinton's foreign policy's three cornerstones was to promote democracy. In order to further democracy, President George W. Bush followed this tendency, although he did it by using military measures, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 1970s, European nations also began to support efforts to promote democracy.


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