Introduction and Background on Discussion Topic and Prompts
Modern political scientist debates begin with matters of what research methods are to be accepted as the best approach. Structuralists believe research, methods and analysis should focus on objective factors. Understanding political context of one’s environment can only be objectively achieved, if focus is on factors pertaining to the way in which the world is organized. Structure and organization determine politics. Therefore, the proper objects to study are power, interests, and institutions.
Culturalists prioritize subjectivity. Exploring research of objects relative to perception is the best practices methodological approach to evaluating and understanding politics. Values, opinions and psychology are argued to be more important than objective and tangible reality.
Structuralists and culturalists agree on the issue and topic of debate. For example, both groups would acknowledge and validate there is considerable emerging inertia within the United States political systems, as it pertains specifically to presidential (s)election. The methods required to achieve an explanation is the source of opposing divergence.
Take the presidential selection issue. Structuralists research and methods would rely on explanations of factors, such as electoral laws and processes. It would be necessary to build a research method that evaluates variation or uniformity, with a state by state comparison of laws, rules, processes, and methods that govern how the state’s electoral college is selected, organized, structured, empowered, and ultimately the rules and processes that govern how presidential votes will be cast, tabulated and awarded.
A culturalist would require a research method that focuses on factors, such as public opinion. They would assume that the recent and increasing inertia behind electoral college concerns in deciding the country’s President, is most accurately and informatively explained as variable(s) dependent of people’s attitude in apathy towards voting system, all together. Or perhaps, evaluating the value in objects, like people’s obedience and acceptance of a 250 plus year old institution, that was created before modern United States’ geography. For culturalists, the root of the problem is not the governing laws and processes that structure the existence and behavior of the institution: electoral college. The explanation requires evaluation of the governed. Namely their values in acceptance and tolerance toward the current system. Their research and methods would be driven by a question focused more towards psychology. For example, despite a lack in federal law—outside of the constitutional creation of the electoral college institution—to uniformly mandate each state’s electoral college selection and voting processes be the same, and with the exception of 3-4 of the 50 total states, somehow the states ended up adopting the same selection and procedural system, by which their independent electoral college and its voters operate. Thus, the higher priority being placed on values of acceptance amongst the public, instead of the institutions (lack of uniformly mandated) procedural rules, guidelines and laws.
Decide and discuss whether you consider yourself as one of the following….either
2.) Neither, providing and discussing ideas about what you think a better approach and method to explaining current political system environments, include reasoning, examples and hypotheticals
3.) A combination, provided discussion must include identification of specific aspects from each approach that you would rely on, to achieve a balanced reasoning and rationalization to discuss and explain a more individualized approach, which you would defend as the best approach to finding the most accurate method to understanding political systems. Include any examples, along with hypothetical comparisons, explanations, or scenarios to fully explain your position.
Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. You can base your response on the presidential selection and electoral college example I outlined, while introducing the prompt and topic for this current event discussion. Your response does not require you to focus your analysis and response on the particular example I illustrated. You can find your own. Be thorough. Be direct. Be reflective. Be thoughtful. Be a political scientist!!