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A Novel Approach to Politics
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A Novel Approach to Politics
Introducing Political Science through Books, Movies, and Popular Culture

Sixth Edition
Additional resources:

Other Titles in:
Politics (General)

July 2020 | 544 pages | CQ Press
A textbook your students will want to read.

“If you would like students to understand hard political concepts, this work makes it accessible for them. By using pop culture, we can open ideological ideas and students are not bound by their own preconceived ideas.”
—Leah Murray, Weber State University

A Novel Approach to Politics turns the conventional textbook wisdom on its head by using pop culture references to illustrate key concepts and cover recent political events. Adopters of previous editions are thanking author Douglas A. Van Belle for some of their best student evaluations to date.

With this Sixth Edition, Van Belle brings the book fully up-to-date with current events and policy debates, international happenings, and other assorted ‘intergalactic’ matters. Van Belle tackles the most tumultuous political periods in recent history head-on, encouraging students to engage with ideas, arguments, and information that makes them uncomfortable. Employing a wide range of references from Brooklyn Nine-Nine to The Good Place to Ready Player One, students are given a solid grounding in institutions, ideology, and economics. To keep things grounded, the textbook nuts and bolts are still there to aid students, including chapter objectives, chapter summaries, bolded key terms, and discussion questions.

 
Preface
 
Introduction: Warning/Parental Advisory
 
About the Author
 
1. Introducing the Ancient Debate: The Ideal versus the Real
Classical Theory, Modern Reality, and Stuff

 
You’re Just a Mime Trapped in an Invisible Box

 
Fiction as a Tool for Exploring Politics

 
Utopias in Fiction and Politics

 
Ideologies

 
What Is Politics?

 
What Is Political Science?

 
 
2. Why Government? Security, Anarchy, and Some Basic Group Dynamics
Security Trumps Anarchy, Rock Smashes Scissors, but Will Someone Please Explain How Paper Beats Rock?

 
A Model for the Emergence of Cooperation: Bobsville

 
Collective Action

 
Security

 
Power

 
Anarchy

 
The Context of Hierarchy

 
Alliances

 
Groups and Group Identities

 
 
3. Governing Society: We Know Who You Are
Leadership Benefits

 
The Panopticon

 
Collective Action, Revolution, and the Use of Force

 
Legitimacy and Government Control

 
 
4. Government’s Role in the Economy: The Offer You Can’t Refuse
Government All Up In Your Business, Yo

 
The Tragedy of the Commons

 
Karl Marx—Student of Capitalism?

 
Socialism

 
The Yin and Yang of Capitalism and Socialism

 
Modern Stuff

 
Conclusionoscopy

 
 
5. Structures and Institutions
Structures or Institutions?

 
Human Nature and Political Institutions

 
The Reality of Political Institutions

 
Civilization

 
 
6. El Grande Loco Casa Blanca: The Executive (in Bad Spanish)
Oh Captain, My Captain

 
The Scorpion King on Grandpa’s Farm

 
Kings and Presidents

 
The Democratic Executive

 
 
7. The Confederacy of Dunces: The Legislative Function (Not in Bad Spanish)
Boring History Stuff

 
A Dreary Discussion of Democratic Legislatures

 
A Redundant Repetition of the Theme: Contrasting Legislatures in Parliamentary and Presidential Systems

 
A Tired Attempt to Make Coalition Politics Interesting with a Lame Example

 
A Dreary Bleakness in the Authoritarian Gloom: They Endure Legislative Institutions, Too

 
 
8. Brazilian Bureaucracy: Do I Even Need to Bother with the Jokes?
Bureaucracy, It Goes to Eleven

 
So... What Is a Bureaucracy?

 
There Be Flaws in Yonder Bureaucracy, Obviously

 
The Endy Part

 
 
9. Courts and Law: Politics behind the Gavel, Obviously, but What’s under the Gown?
Law and Politics

 
The Political Functions of Courts

 
Trial and Appellate Courts

 
Legal Systems

 
Jurisprudence

 
Types of Law

 
Constitutional Review

 
 
10. Not Quite Right, but Still Good: The Democratic Ideal in Modern Politics
Arrow’s Theorem

 
Democracy and the Liberal Ideal

 
An Economic Theory of Democracy

 
The Real versus the Ideal, Again

 
 
11. Media, Politics, and Government: Talking Heads Are Better Than None
Reality and Beyond

 
The Whole China Charade

 
Your New Brain and the Creation of Reality

 
News Media and Politics

 
A Vast Conspiracy?

 
Understanding the Distortions Is the Key

 
 
12. International Politics: Apocalypse Now and Then
Causes of War

 
Back to Anarchy

 
World War I Was Unpleasant

 
Realism and War

 
Challenging the Realist Paradigm

 
 
13. Secret Government: Spies, Lies, and Freedom Fries
 
14. Political Culture: Sex and Agriculture, Getting Rucked Explains It All
Political Culture

 
Applying Political Culture

 
Back to the Question of “What Is Culture?”

 
 
15. The Lastest and Bestest Chapter: The Study of Politics
Here’s Where the Story Ends

 
The Study of Politics

 
The Applied Subfields

 
Conclusion

 
 
Appendix A: Fiction Appendix
 
Appendix B: A Strategic Approach to Writing for the Classroom
 
Glossary
 
Notes
 
Index

Supplements

SAGE edge - Instructor Site
https://edge.sagepub.com/vanbelle6e

SAGE edge for instructors supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students with:
  • a password-protected site for complete and protected access to all text-specific instructor resources;  
  • test banks that provide a diverse range of ready-to-use options that save you time. You can also easily edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions;
  • editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course; and
  • instructors manual that summarize key concepts by chapter and offers class activities and discussion questions to help you prepare for lectures and class discussions.

“If you would like students to understand hard political concepts, this work makes it accessible for them. By using pop culture, we can open ideological ideas and students are not bound by their own preconceived ideas.”

Leah Murray
Weber State University

“An interesting interpretation of the basics, ordered in a unique way.”

Dr. Domenic Maffei
Caldwell University

“I wish all Political Science texts were written by Van Belle!”

Kimberly J. H. Pace
University of Alaska Anchorage

“A very relatable text that covers a number of important concepts for students new to the study of political science.”

Steven Moynihan,
Cape Cod Community College

“An engaging way to teach Introduction to Political Science with unique use of pop culture examples.”

Dr. Will Jennings
The University of Tennessee

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