Political Sociology

Question

Write a critical thinking paper for my political sociology course. The length of this paper should be no more than 5 pages (two pages for short answer questions and three pages for an essay). There are two parts in this paper: the first part is short answer questions and the second part is an essay.  For short answer questions, please choose 2 questions out of 5 questions and answer them in no more than one page for each. Please use the specified readings in order to answer the questions. I want you to choose questions 2 and 5 since I put some notes on the readings required to answer those two questions.
For the essay part, please choose one prompt and answer the question in no more than three pages by using uploaded readings. 
For both parts, please make sure to define/explain/describe important terms/concepts/theories/ideas by referring to readings with page numbers and be sure to address them all parts of the questions.  I would upload the essay instruction and tips for answering questions, so please check them out thoroughly. I also upload those articles to be used for this paper and lecture slides, so please do NOT use any outside sources since it is not allowed. Those readings are pretty dense, but please read them all before you start working on answering questions. Lecture slides would be helpful, so please make sure to look through them in order to see what the main themes/ideas/theories are. 
Thank you so much in advance for your time and help. I would greatly appreciate it.

Answer

Part I

Question 2

Oil curse

The oil curse refers to the increased dependence of people on oil to the extent that it controls their life. People have become so dependent on oil that even failure to follow the oil is considered a curse.[1] All countries have become oil states including both the producing and non-producing countries. The current political and economic life of the industrialized states is dependent on oil. People organize all their forms of life from traveling, eating, housing, and consumption of goods and services to the oil and other fossil fuels.[2] The worst part of this kind of life is that it is unsustainable to rely on the limited reserves of oil available on the planet.

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Democracy

Refers to a system that is organized around majority rule. The leadership of a democratic government is chosen by the masses through voting. In the mid-20th century, oil-related political development greatly contributed to political organizations that eventually resulted in a democratic way of governance. As states sought to grow their oil-driven economies, developments in terms of democracies started taking shape particularly in regards to the rapidly industrializing European nations and their growing focus on the oil wealth Middle Eastern countries.

The link between the use of oil and the crisis of democracy in Western Europe

The crisis of democracy in Western Europe was mainly as a result of the use of oil in the sense that it accelerated the establishment of worker’s unions that threatened the already established corporate democratic institutions. The use of oil had numerous vulnerabilities that led to the threatening of the democracy as oil field workers were involved in constant labor conflicts.[3] Oil politics also resulted in the formation of oil currency that undermined the value of gold reserves. As an alternative, oil was adopted as a reserve due to its emergent value. The United States and Britain got embroiled in conflicts on which currency to be used for international trade.[4]Eventually, the dollar won against the sterling pound. This contributed to high rates of inflation that threatened the democracy of Western Europe.

Question 5

Lobbying

Lobbying is a form of legislative subsidy that involves lobbyists providing legislators with policy information, which is based on a similar political preference. Based on the exchange theory, the lobbyists persuade legislators to focus on a particular policy as stipulated by the exchange base. It involves a matching grant of a costly process that involves interactions between policy information, labor relations and political intelligence with strategically selected legislators playing a critical role.[5]

Legislative subsidy

It refers to a phenomenon whereby lobbyists give resources and information to legislators in situations where the latter have limited information. Lobbyists have a shared interest with the legislators hence they are normally involved in briefing them. Legislative subsidy introduces political bias as lobbyists are involved in the process of reordering preferences and priorities of the legislators.

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How “legislative subsidy” brings about political bias even though lobbyists do not sway legislators

Lobbyists are not in the business of swaying the legislators. However the use of legislative subsidy has the potential of introducing bias because legislators have different characteristics. Besides, legislators operate on a scarce budget that disadvantages them in terms of effecting policies. The lobbyists have vast resources in terms of time, labor, information as well as agenda hence they might exchange roles with legislators to the point of influencing them to change the direction of their efforts to support the policy advocated for by the lobbyists. For example, a legislator working on solving an issue on corruption might be swayed by the lobbyists to change their efforts to be directed to air pollution as a matter of priority.

Part II: Essay

Question 2

            Lobbying represents one of the major ways through which most people get government appointments. In most cases, however, those lobbying in favor of a person also consider the person’s strengths and academic qualification that are relevant to the appointment. Conversely, in some cases, the lobbyists may push for the appointment of a person based on their personal interests as opposed to the requirements of the job. In such instances, academic qualification or experience do not take precedence. People appointed through lobbying with relevant qualifications have to prove themselves in their positions of work as opposed to the content of their academic documents. Notably, lobbying is a process where the lobbyists seek to persuade the legislators to pass certain policies based on a similar political preference.[6] The process of lobbying is examined under the exchange theory lens to reflect that there are instances when preference is based on exchange base.

In this case, Donald Trump appointed Scoot Pruitt, a republican politician who has no experience in scientific knowledge to head the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). President Trump appeared to have been seeking to fulfil the exchange theory in his appointment. He was using the political appointment to reward those who supported his quest for presidency, hence cared little about the qualifications of the appointees. The key to benefiting from President Trump political appointments, therefore, is to participate in the process of endorsing him for the presidency. Political appointments are mostly done to reward proxies. In some instances it can be affected by the intense lobbying of the interested groups hence forcing the government to appoint the person into a position of power. In this case, Trump is utilizing his structural power to effect appointments as opposed to the normal democracy. Structural power helps in the elimination of the intense bureaucracy that comes with the democratic processes such as the need to consult several people before making an appointment.[7] These are meant to act as checks and balances in the appointment of people to political posts.

Nevertheless, the structural power that is derived by the president from his position in the government helps him to appoint some people without the need to consult widely as is often expected in most governments that practice the a democratic style of leadership. With structural power, the president is granted some privileges that make some of the appointments done by governments to lack merit as their appointments are sometimes not based on education but rather the strength of lobbying or political rewarding.[8] The key political appointments made are also meant to strengthen the position of the government so that decisions made by the president are supported by a number of people who are his subjects.

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Another theory that President Donald Trump might be implementing is the carbon democracy. The focus on environment is very important to Donald Trump to the extent that he ignores an aspect of normal democracy that requires people to be involved in a mobilization process that culminates into the appointment of a person. Carbon democracy is a system that gives less emphasis on the democratic process that has been outlined in the constitution. The process involves using the presidential mandate to implement policies that help in the smooth running of the government to ensure economic success.[9] States that are influenced by the system of carbon democracy tend to be less democratic because of the need to influence a continuous flow of oil. The appointment of Scott to the EPA without any knowledge in science signals an era that will be marked by intense use of structural power to deliver the government promises.[10] There is need to appoint people who are loyal to the points reflected in the presidential manifesto for campaign. Though they may lack the background knowledge that is a prerequisite for an appointment to position of power, they have the passion that would allow them to mobilize people to implement the policies of the democratic institution.[11] Scott is in the position as an overseer of the government process through coordinating several professionals that will ensure there is the smooth running of the federal agency. Political appointments are in most case surrounded by experts who perform the required job but under the watch of a government appointee who is aware of the points expressed in the campaign manifesto.

The appointment of Scott as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, therefore, makes sense when explored from the sense of lobbying as well as the carbon democracy. In the lobbying part, Scott might have been influenced on Trump by lobbyists who feel that Scott is capable of doing a good job despite lacking the scientific knowledge that is considered key in such appointment. On the other hand, Trump might be focusing on making America less democratic with an aim of creating an environment that will ensure that his policies as promised in the manifesto prevail.

Bibliography

Hall, Richard L., and Alan V. Deardorff. “Lobbying as legislative subsidy.” American Political Science Review 100, no. 01 (2006): 69-84.

Jansen, Robert S. “Situated political innovation: explaining the historical emergence of new modes of political practice.” Theory and Society 45, no. 4 (2016): 319-360.

Mitchell, Timothy. “Economentality: how the future entered government.” Critical inquiry 40, no. 4 (2014): 479-507.

Mitchell, Timothy. “Carbon democracy.” Economy and Society 38, no. 3 (2009): 399-432.

Moore, Barrington. “The Democratic Route to Modern Society.” Classes and Elites in Democracy and Democratization: A Collection of Readings 1083 (1997): 30.

Quadagno, Jill. “Institutions, interest groups, and ideology an agenda for the sociology of health care reform.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51, no. 2 (2010): 125-136.

Weingart, Peter. “Paradox of scientific advising.” Expertise and its Interfaces—The Tense Relationship of Science and Politics. Ed. Sigma, Berlin (2003): 53-89.

Woll, Cornelia. Politics in the interest of capital: A not-so-organized combat. No. 15/2. MaxPo Discussion Paper, 2015.


[1]               Timothy Mitchell. “Carbon democracy.” Economy and Society 38, no. 3 (2009): pg 400

[2]               Ibid. pg 400

[3]               Ibid. pg 409

[4]               Barrington Moore. “The Democratic Route to Modern Society.” Classes and Elites in Democracy and Democratization: A Collection of Readings 1083 (1997)

[5]               Hall, Richard L., and Alan V. Deardorff. “Lobbying as legislative subsidy.” American Political Science Review 100, no. 01 (2006): 71

[6]               Ibid.

[7]               Jansen, Robert S. “Situated political innovation: explaining the historical emergence of new modes of political practice.” Theory and Society 45, no. 4 (2016).

[8]               Cornelia Woll. Politics in the interest of capital: A not-so-organized combat. No. 15/2. MaxPo Discussion Paper, 2015.

[9]               Timothy Mitchell (b). “Economentality: how the future entered government.” Critical inquiry 40, no. 4 (2014): 482.

[10]             Peter Weingart. “Paradox of scientific advising.” Expertise and its Interfaces—The Tense Relationship of Science and Politics. Ed. Sigma, Berlin (2003).

[11]             Quadagno, Jill. “Institutions, interest groups, and ideology an agenda for the sociology of health care reform.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51, no. 2 (2010).

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