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Social and Political Sciences Tripos (New Regulations), Parts IIA and IIB, 2002: Notice

The Faculty Board of Social and Political Sciences give notice that they have prescribed the following subjects for 5,000-word essays for certain papers for the Social and Political Sciences Tripos, Parts IIA and IIB, 2002 (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 386: New Regulations):

Pol. 5. Conceptual issues in modern politics

Students must answer two questions.

1. Is feminism a political philosophy?
2. Is it possible to live outside of the state?
3. Is 'liberal democracy' a contradiction in terms?
4. What threatens the authority of modern states?
5. When does federalism lead to fragmentation?
6. Is there a 'general will'?
7. Should my representatives reflect my preferences?
8. Are states anything more than governments?
9. Are we all multi-culturalists now?
10. What makes markets and states compatible?
11. Do monetary or currency unions have necessary consequences for the political authority of modern states?
12. Could there be a world state?
13. Is there a political solution to global inequality?
14. When, if ever, should liberal democracies go to war?
15. Why have Latin Americans found it so difficult to agree on the rules of rule?
16. Why do rational actors co-operate?
17. Are electorates rational?
18. Did the Thatcher government succeed in rolling back the frontiers of the state?
19. (a)Are Western European nation states becoming more or less centralized?
  (b)Can the European Union be democratic?
20. (a)Can a wider Europe be anything but a looser Europe?
  (b)To what extent has globalization driven the integration process in Europe?
21. Can there be satisfactory politics without political parties?
22. (a)What does the 2000 Presidential election tell us about American democracy?
  (b)Where does political power reside in the United States?
23. (a)Why has democracy flourished in India and failed in Pakistan since 1947?
  (b)What, if anything, have India's citizens gained from its democracy?
24. (a)Is globalization driving political change in China?
  (b)Are China's relations with the West best understood politically, economically, or culturally?
25. If Communism has survived in China could it have done so in Russia?
26. (a)Is socialism dead?
  (b)Was Communism the 'grand illusion'?
27. Can the successful development of one poor state serve as a model for others?
28. (a)What does the selection of Junichiro Koizumi as Prime Minister tell us about the nature of political leadership in Japan?
  (b)Is Japan ungovernable?
29. Must human rights be adapted to national circumstances?
30. What is a state?

Pol. 7. A subject in modern politics II: Western Europe

1. Do coalition governments undermine the accountability of politicians and political parties in Western Europe?
2. What are the political conditions for welfare state reform in Western Europe?
3. Why have new political parties in Western Europe been more successful in some countries than in others?
4. Do centralization and devolution undermine the authority of Western European nation-states?
5. How will future enlargements towards Central and Eastern Europe affect the structure of the European Union? Discuss with reference to one or more supranational institutions.
6. Do the regulatory and redistributive policies of the European Union complement each other?
7. Is further European integration possible without a common foreign and security policy?
8. What has been the impact of European integration on domestic politics? Discuss with reference to one or more Western European states.
9. Why is Britain still a member of the European Union?

Pol. 8. A subject in modern politics III: United States of America

To be announced in Michaelmas Term 2001.

Pol. 9. A subject in modern politics IV: Revolutions

1. Must all revolutions fail?
2. What made the role of the professional revolutionary politically consequential?
3. Is the relation between revolution and progress conceptually necessary or historically contingent?
4. Why are revolutions so violent?
5. Did Lenin's theory and practice betray Marx's conception of socialist revolution or remedy its infeasibility?
6. Was sovereignty the key to the politics of the French Revolution?
7. When did the Russian Revolution end?
8. How far was the 'Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution' great, proletarian, or revolutionary?
9. Was the Mexican Revolution more successful at cultural innovation than at political construction?

Pol. 11. A subject in modern politics V: Russia

1. Was the path to socialism, described by Lenin in 'The State and Revolution', anything more than a utopian dream?
2. Examine the impact of war on the development of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1953.
3. 'Lenin's best pupil or betrayer of the revolution'. Which better describes Stalin?
4. Does totalitarian theory provide a plausible explanation of the Soviet political system between 1928 and 1953?
5. Consider the influence of social change on Soviet politics between 1953 and 1985.
6. Why did the Soviet Union collapse?
7. 'Reproduction or circulation'. Which more accurately describes elite formation in Russia since 1991?
8. Is Russia becoming a democracy?
9. Why has nationalism become so important a factor in post-Soviet Russia?

Soc. 3. A subject in sociology I: Political economy

1. Discuss the impact of internationalization/globalization on two European national systems of industrial relations.
2. Compare and contrast the impact of inward foreign direct investment on any two European political economies.
3. What is implied by the concept of 'shareholder value' and how has it impacted on corporate governance? Give examples from two European societies.
4. Is the national state's role in the economy now more or less important than in the past? In your answer, refer to developments in two European countries.
5. To what extent has 'dual convergence' occurred between large firms and small and medium-sized enterprises?
6. Which general theory best describes current transformations in the political economies of developed countries?
7. Account for the development of the large-scale business enterprise in the twentieth century.
8. What does Japan's protracted economic stagnation since the early 1990s tell us about the nature of capitalism?
9. Why is it proving so difficult to establish an effective monetary system in contemporary Russia?
10. Was Schumpeter right to think that 'Credit operations of whatever shape or kind do affect … the workings of the capitalist engine - so much so as to become an essential part of it without which the rest cannot be understood at all' (A History of Economic Analysis, 1994 [1954]: 218)?
11. What determines the balance between 'contract' and 'authority' in modern capitalist economies?

Soc. 4. A subject in sociology II: Media, culture, and society

1. Is the concept of ideology a useful tool for the analysis of contemporary cultural forms?
2. 'Culture's alienation from human affairs terminates in its absolute docility before a humanity which has been enchanted and transformed into clientele by the suppliers' (ADORNO). Discuss.
3. In what ways is the concept of the public sphere useful in understanding the political role of contemporary media?
4. What is the value of Bourdieu's theory of the field of cultural production? What are its limitations? Discuss with reference to one cultural or media industry.
5. Does public service broadcasting have a future, and if so, in what form?
6. What contributions has the 'active audience' paradigm made to the analysis of media reception?
7. What role do the mass media play in the formation of social identities? Discuss in relation to either television or music or the internet.
8. Does an analysis of the political economy of the media industries help to explain the nature of their products? Discuss with reference to at least one industry.
9. What contribution is made to the analysis of culture and media by those writers who focus on their formal and technological characteristics? Are they liable to the charge of technological determinism? Discuss with reference to at least three writers taking this perspective.
10. What does genre theory contribute to media analysis? Discuss with reference to one genre drawn from any medium.
11. How does the concept of realism help in understanding the production of meaning in television? Discuss with reference to either factual or fictional television.
12. What does the study of news, and the production of news, tell us about the role of the media in the democratic process?
13. Does the concept of cultural imperialism have any relevance for understanding the globalization of culture?
14. How should we understand the social character of music?
15. Why have approaches from feminism and gender studies become the model for a new kind of critical engagement with music?
16. Present an analysis of current media narratives on a topic of your choice.

Soc. 5. A subject in sociology III: Modern Britain

1. Did the Conservative governments of the 1980s change Britain?
2. Explain the major changes in the class structure of Britain during the second half of the twentieth century.
3. Did the Labour governments of the 1960s succeed in their attempts to 'modernize' Britain?
4. Is New Labour more likely or not than its Labour predecessors in the post-war period to succeed in modernizing Britain?
5. How far was the basis for the trajectory of social and political development in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century laid down during World War II?
6. Assess the impact of the post World War II generation of intellectual minorities in the construction of nationalist narratives in Britain.
7. Assess the role of the 1960s women's movements in the construction of national identities in the UK.
8. Is contemporary Britain a more or less religious society than it was in 1945?
9. Is it true to say that race relations in contemporary Britain cannot be understood without reference to its imperial past?

Int. 3. An interdisciplinary subject I: Medicine, health, and illness

1. With empirical examples, critically assess arguments against the notion that the body is socially constructed.
2. Why do medical conditions have moral implications?
3. What is the globalization of disease? What has produced it?
4. Can the social distribution of morbidity and mortality be explained by the unequal distribution of social capital?
5. How do social inequalities of health and illness in modern Britain throw serious doubt on the postwar welfare state as an expression of social citizenship?
6. Why is 'the body' currently central to any understanding of health issues in modern society?
7. Define, and critically compare, internalist and externalist explanations of medical practice. Also, discuss the feasibility of taking a theoretical middle road between them. Use empirical examples from the readings to illustrate and support your argument.
8. Critically evaluate the concept of a 'biomedical model'.
9. Compare and contrast the roles played by science and government respectively in the ascendancy of modern medical professions in any two of the following: England, France, Germany, and the United States. Use empirical examples to illustrate and support your argument.
10. Discuss the claim that there are profound differences between clinical expertise and knowledge of the medical sciences.
11. Distinguish the therapeutic treatment of mental illness from the social control of mental illness. Discuss whether this is an important distinction and why.
12. Compare and contrast the following four approaches to understanding the outcome of mental health treatment: cure, domestication, empowerment, and self-actualization. Discuss whether and when these models are ever appropriate for understanding actual types of mental care provision.
13. Critically evaluate the Foucauldian thesis that the segregation of madness during the early modern era tells us something about the concept of Reason held by elites of that period. What, if anything, does this thesis suggest about current forms of mental health care?

Int. 4. An interdisciplinary subject II: Biotechnologies

1. 'People want there to be limits' (Mary Warnock). Discuss the problem of 'limits' in regulating reproductive medicine.
2. The phrase 'the gift of life' is used of organ donation and gamete donation alike: what ethical issues have been, or could be, identified in such gifts?
3. What are the arguments for and against openness about the identity of egg and sperm donors?
4. Should recipients pay for eggs or sperm?
5. Critically assess the arguments for and against the patenting of gene sequences.
6. Should insurance companies have access to genetic test results?
7. How have either new reproductive technologies or the use of genetic information been regulated in the UK?
8. Is genetic information different from other kinds of biological information?
9. What is a gene? Discuss changing concepts of the gene in the twentieth century.
10. Discuss the psychosocial consequences for family members of either predictive genetic testing or testing for recessive genetic diseases.
11. The new genetics - a new eugenics?
12. Compare and contrast past eugenic policies and practices in the UK and one other country.
13. Designer babies - a credible future?
14. How, if at all, should pre-implantation genetic diagnosis be regulated?
15. Discuss public attitudes to human cloning.
16. Evaluate the methods available for analysing public attitudes to biomedical technologies.
17. 'Genetic literacy'; a desirable goal for public policy?
18. Are genes selfish?
19. IQ: a mismeasure of man?
20. Is IQ heritable?
21. Critically assess the contribution that evolutionary psychology has made to our understanding of either parent-child relationships or marriage and mating problems.
22. What is a parent in the biotech century?

Int. 5. An interdisciplinary subject III: Women, gender, and society

Candidates must do one subject from each group.

Group I

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of different welfare states for women and men?
2. To what extent does gender discrimination persist and how can it be explained?
3. How important is gender segregation in the explanation of women's socio-economic position?
4. How important is the gender division of labour to explain men's socio-economic position?
5. Is the concept of Patriarchy useful for understanding women's position in the labour market? In your answer, refer to material from more than one European society.
6. How can one explain the diversity between European societies in gender relations in employment?
7. What are the effects of globalization on the female labour force in developing countries?
8. How do property rights regimes determine the access of women to economic resources?
9. Why are there so few women in politics and why could it be more beneficial to have more women in politics?
10. In what ways has democracy proved alien to the needs of the feminist movement.

Group II

11. In what ways has psychoanalytic theory been used to explain how 'woman is made not born'?
12. Can a feminist use of psychoanalysis be said to contribute to an understanding of how the psychological qualities of mothering are transmitted over generations?
13. Discuss how the psychoanalytic concept of self-difference has been deployed by post-modern thinkers to criticize theories of universal sexual difference.
14. Is there a 'crisis of masculinity'?
15. Are gender inequalities based on essential differences between women and men?
16. Is it only a matter of time before gender inequalities will dissolve?
17. How does the integration of care into economics change the explanation of human behaviour?
18. Are family options in the UK and Europe becoming so much more varied that they are rendering the 'traditional family' obsolete?
19. What barriers exist to achieving gender role equality in the domestic sphere?
20. If there are two marriages - his marriage and her marriage, is the same true of divorce?
21. To what extent does education play a double-edged role in the dialectic between reproduction of gender, relations, and the modernization of gender?
22. Examine the impact of seclusion on the position of women in intra-household relations?
23. Have schools changed girls or have girls and women changed the educational system?

Int. 6. Crime and deviance

1. 'The rise in crime since the 1960s in Britain is due to a decay of moral principles and the rise of hedonism'. Discuss.
2. Why do people obey the law?
3. Assess the contributions of the various 'critical criminologies' to our understanding of crime and deviance.
4. Discuss the relationship between mental illness and crime and the extent to which mental health services can protect the public from serious offences by mentally disordered people in the community.
5. What are the most appropriate ways of preventing, regulating, and punishing crime and deviance?
6. Assess the potential role of communities in prompting and preventing crime.
7. What are the strengths and limitations of feminist contributions to criminology and criminal justice?

Int. 7. Society politics, and culture in Latin America

1. 'More a series of local skirmishes than a national struggle.' Is this an accurate portrayal of the Mexican Revolution?
2. Diego Rivera's murals portray an image of post-revolutionary Mexico in which the campesino and factory worker emerge victorious from their struggle against exploitation. Is this an accurate portrayal or mere government propaganda?
3. 'The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with torments in the name of freedom'. How accurately does Simón Bolívar's prophecy fit US foreign policy towards Latin America during the twentieth century?
4. Underlining [the transition of the Mexican political system] are changes in 'the perceptions, the symbols and the political values of the Mexicans' and a 'growing culture of participation' that no longer tolerates the 'arbitrary actions of government' (Foweraker, 1996). In what ways has the transformation of Mexican political culture become manifest?
5. Why have so few disputes between Latin-American states led to sustained warfare?
6. Why have schemes for regional co-operation and integration of Latin-American states made such limited progress?
7. Assess the record of international co-operation between American states to control production of and international trade in illegal drugs.
8. 'Race and ethnicity in Latin America have been looking glasses to understand a hierarchical differentiation as well as a celebration of diversity between people and groups'. In the light of this statement discuss the interface between race, ethnicity, and concepts of class and gender.
9. Symbolic analyses of gender relations focus on language and the power relations generated by representations. Discuss whether and how this symbolic focus can be complementary to more socio-economic analyses of gender relations in Latin America.
10. 'They are not 'exotic others' operating in an irrational netherworld. On the contrary, they are 'made in America' '. (P. Bourgeois, on Puerto Ricans in East Harlem, New York). Why and through what cultural, labour, and political processes have Latino migrants to the US been considered 'exotic others' or 'made in America'?
11. Assess the respective roles of politics and economics in the collapse of the Venezuelan political system in the late 1990s.

Int. 8. A specified subject in South Asian Studies

1. Has the nature of 'the party system' in Indian politics changed significantly since 1952?
2. Do the causes of the decline of the Congress in the 1990s also shed light upon the nature of its dominance in the preceding decades?
3. 'The partition of India in 1947 was the price which the Congress was willing to pay for a strong centre.' Discuss.
4. Why has it proved so difficult to create a stable, democratic, political system in Pakistan?
5. How and why has the nature of 'the caste system' in India changed since independence?
6. How do you explain the extent, and the limitations, of the appeal of Hindu nationalist rhetoric and programmes in India since 1980?
7. To what extent, and in what respects, have the development policies of South Asian governments benefited the poor in South Asia? You may discuss with reference to one or more countries in the region.
8. 'The policies of India and Pakistan towards each other have been determined primarily by domestic political considerations in each state.' Discuss.
9. 'The weakness of women's property rights in South Asia is the most powerful determinant of their economic and social status within and beyond the household.' You may discuss with reference to one or more countries in the region.
10. Why has the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict proved so protracted and so violent?
11. Assess the significance and influence of Islamic movements in the politics of either Pakistan or Bangladesh.
12. Have democratic institutions in Bangladesh ever successfully escaped from the shadow of military dominance?

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Cambridge University Reporter, 8 August 2001
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.