Essay We are starting your study of politics by setting you an unconventional essay question. Most politics essays are about specific topics in politics – “Why has electoral turnout been in decline in many European democracies in the last thirty years?”, “How does the security dilemma lead to war?”, “What factors have shaped the Irish party system?” etc. There’s plenty time for these kinds of questions later. Right now what we’d like you to do is to reflect on what you understand about politics, what the sources of your understanding of politics are, what you think are the main issues in contemporary politics, nationally and globally, and what you have changed your mind about as a result of studying politics this semester. So the title of the essay for this module is: How has your understanding of what politics is and what are the most pressing political issues we face developed over your lifetime and as a result of studying this module? The reason for doing this is that we all bring to certain ideas, and sometimes prejudices, to the study of politics. Our ideas about what is important in politics and what we expect of it, and what we think is interesting about politics, can come from our families and communities (sometimes we take some of our political values from people around us, sometimes we reject them, there’s no right or wrong to that but we are all socialised into politics in some way as we live our lives), the media, our experience and feelings (good, bad and indifferent) of and about political events, and a whole raft of other things. Very often we don’t think about how these things influence our understanding of politics and how we study politics. You’ll see this as you move on with your studies – many academics and political analysts write from their prejudices unthinkingly and make assumptions that are unwarranted when we stop to examine them. So we’d like to start your essay writing career by getting you to think some of these things through. In academic jargon this is called being ‘reflexive’, thinking about the relationship between yourself and what you are studying. Being reflexive educates yourself about the types of choices that you make when you perform the type of analysis that perform when you study politics. It leads you to question how you are answering questions and this can lead to better answers. Instead of following your ‘gut’, the beliefs that you have, you can think through whether your instinctive answer is the right one. So what should this reflexive essay look like and what constitutes a good one? First, you need to strike a balance between the personal and the academic. Don’t just write about how you’ve revolted against your parent’s anarchist vegan lifestyle and become a full-time organiser for the Illuminati working to enslave humanity. Pay some attention to the things that have been done on the module. Write down your first impressions at the start of the semester, go back to them as you do the module and note any changes, why you’ve changed your opinion or had your initial beliefs reinforced. Show what you’ve learnt from lectures, tutorials and reading. Second, be reasoned rather than ‘sincere’. Just because we believe something or feel it to be true does not make it so no matter how sincerely we believe and no matter how forcefully we express our sincere belief. Saying ‘I’m just being true to myself and what I know’ without questioning what it is that we know and how we know it may be sincere but it leaves our views unchallenged and does not establish whether they have any truth in them or not. In the words of the philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt[1] (2005, 67), ‘insofar as this is the case, sincerity is bullshit’: insisting that something is true because we believe sincerely that it is true means we’ve actually given up trying to establish what is true and false and if we’re not attempting to discover truth or even working out if we are lying, we are just bullshitting. Don’t bullshit; make arguments for what you think rather than saying that ‘this is what I believe to be the case’. In terms of content and layout the essay should: describe and analyse what you think politics is, why and how your thinking has evolved (or not) over the course of your life; describe and analyse what you think are the most important political issues locally and globally, and how your thinking on this has changed either because you’ve found new things to think about, or because you’ve developed new reasons for your opinions; describe what you think you’ve learnt about politics over the semester, and why you think you’ve learnt what you have. The essay should be a minimum of 1,500 words long and no longer than 2,500 words long (excluding the bibliography). All essays should be properly referenced and the quality of referencing and writing will be taken into account in the marking. You’ll cover referencing in your academic writing module

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Generally, politics can be defined as the procedure of making decisions which apply to every member of a particular group (Verba, 2015, np). Mostly, many individuals posit that politics is all about power. However, other scholars argue that politics is the actions, activities and policies that gain and hold power in a state. It has also been argued that politics are the perceptions held by a certain individual about the manner in which a government is managed. Despite having many definitions, politics is an art and science that guides the general public in developing appositive direction through the identification of common goals and the methods through which they can be attained. After my research, I can affirm that politics is both an art and a science. Politics is considered as a science because it assists in the development of social development laws which have an effect on the political future. Additionally, politics can be perceived as an art because it deals with the subjective part of a political procedure which involves creative courage, experience, intuition and imagination.