A look into politics   no comments

Posted at 10:17 pm in Uncategorized

Authors note: the topic for this project has undergone slight change. After looking at several journal articles, wikis and online articles I would like to broaden the topic area from the Web being used for social change, to power relations on the Web. This will still look at social change on the Web but will also include how the government tries to control the Web.

These couple of weeks I started looking into the area of politics. How to study politics seemed to have some contentions between different authors resulting in a lot of different definitions. However, largely politics can be defined as the power relationships that occur daily in social life. More strictly the study of politics can be specifically applied to the effects that arise from governmental actors’ power of society.

Politics could be split into three large approaches, each which contained their own specific theories and methods of analysis.

Traditional scholarship
Traditional scholars generally studied a specific, traditional area of politics such as how a particular country was run, or a particular type of governmental system (democracy, totalitarianism, socialism etc). The scholar’s study these areas by “borrowing” methods from other disciplines, namely history and philosophers.

Social science
Social scientists look at politics from a sociological point of view, focusing on how political institutions affect society as a whole, and looking for ways to improve the future of society. The methods they use to do this stem from social science and therefore can be quantitative or qualitative. In a way, the social science is a practical method as it exists to alter the system in some way instead of just change it, though this is perhaps to a lesser extent than the third approach.

Radical Criticism
Radical critics are very interested in the power relations that evolve within politics and largely view politics in very negative ways. Two key theories of radical criticism include;

– Marxism
This looks at politics largely in class based terms, viewing the higher social classes as opposing the lower social classes, which Marxists view as a grave injustice.

– Feminism
This sees politics as being based on patriarchal, hierarchal assumptions which sees women being excluded and pushed into the home domain.

Politics can be useful to look at how the governmental institutions control the Web, for instance looking into issues such as online privacy (just think of the NSA), issues of copyright (recent news stories over the crackdown of download sites), and control over freedom of speech and what can be viewed online (areas such as Cameron’s pornwall and more worryingly perhaps China’s system). Areas such as Marxist politics might be more interested in changing the system and this might be specifically useful for social change online such as twitter mobs, darknets etc. These are areas that I will look into in more depth.

In the next blog entry I am going to look at how politics and philosophy can complement each other in the area of political philosophy.

Kelly, P. ‘The Politics Book’
Tansey, S. ‘Politics the Basics’
Heywood, A. ‘Politics’
Duverger, M. ‘The Study of Politics’
Marx, K. and Engels, F. ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’
Millett, K. ‘Sexual Politics’

Written by Laura Hyrjak on November 8th, 2013

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