Introduction to Political Theory

"As a man is said to have a right to his property,

he may be equally said to have a property in his rights."
James Madison

In my mind this academic subject contains three panels that examine the subject matters of Politics from different perspectives. The three panels are like a trilogy: though they can be seen as three stand-alone courses, and so can be studied independently of whether students have attended the preceding one, they eventually connect to each other:
  1. Social Studies: Politics
  2. Introduction to Political Theory
  3. Political Philosophy 
To get a full picture about the wonerful but "complex world of Politics," it is worth attending the three courses altogether.

Course Description

Academic degree: Bachelor's /Undergraduate/ degree 

This course presents the fundamental concepts, doctrines, and gives an insight into the contemporary issues and debates in political science, which can be relevant for students majoring in International Relations/Politics. Particular emphasis will be put on the primary sources of the Western intellectual tradition whose ideas have shaped the contemporary debates in both political science and the “political world.” The main objective is to provide students with a general literacy of the conceptual tools utilized by political scientists and political actors to understand and explain the nature and the major dynamics of politics.


Below, I list the main topics to be covered during the semester.  

I. The Nature of Politics

 Different Conceptions of Politics:

II. Human Nature & Politics

III. The Mainstream approaches in Political Science 

IV. Political Theories in the 20th Century

V. The Critical Views in Political Science 

VI. Odd ones out: An outlook

Educational Resources

József Zoltán Málik: Essential Political Theory. Budapest: Metropolitan University, 2018. (in pdf version)
  • Readings:
Topic I:
The Nature of Politics
- A. Heywood: What is politics?
- M. Weber: Politics as a Vocation
Topic IV:
Political Theories in the 20th Century
R. Hague-M. Harrop: Democracy. Authoritarian Rule
R. Dahl: Poliarchy
Topic II:
Human Nature & Politics

The English School (Illustration)
 - M. Velasquez: Human Nature
- K. Marx: Human Nature as a Result of Social Relations

- R. Jordan: A Brief Case for the English School
- MIT Class Notes: Class on Hedley Bull
Topic V:  
The Critical Views
Selected Readings (extracts):
  R. W. Cox: Gramsci, Hegemony, and International Relations
  I. Wallreinstein: World-System Analysis
Videos (extracts):  
M. Sandel: Why we shouldn't trust markets with our civic life?
N. Chomsky: Requiem for the American Dream
Topic III:
The Mainstraem
- M. Miller: Neoinstitutionalism – S. Steinmo: Historical Institutionalism (2 in 1)
with Case Studies: P. O'Neil et al.: Cases in Comparative Poilitics (see any country study)
- J. Fischer: System Theory and Structural Functionalism
with Case Studies: G. Powell et al.: Comparative Politics Today (p. 50-61, from Chapter 2.)
 R. Wandling: Rationality and Rational Choice – Ch. Chwaszcza: Game Theory (2 in 1)
with Case Studies: J. M. Colomer: Game Theory in brief ("Cooperation and Conflicts": link)
Topic VI:
Odds one out
 A. Wendt: Anarchy is what States Make of it.
 Martha Finemore: Constructing Norms of Humanitarian Intervention.
 D. Kissane: Mapping International Chaos
– J. Z. Málik: On The Edge of Chaos


  1. Politics is more than what politicians do. Do you agree with this statement? Give examples.  
  2. What do you mean by securalism? Can it be equated with religous tolerance? Demonstrate your reasoning by an example. 
  3. To organise periodic elections is necessary condition for a political regime to be democratic. Why is it not a sufficient condition? Give an example..

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