PLS 140 MSU Current event journal: Regime change

Topic 4 (Regime change): This doesn’t have to be about an actual regime change that happened as we were discussing the topic. (Such an event is highly unlikely!) It could be about the aftermath of a regime change that occurred in recent years (e.g., events in Burma, Egypt, the Gambia) or people fighting for regime change (e.g., democratic activists in China or Democratic Republic of Congo), etc. You could also write about issues related to democratic decline or reversals (e.g., Ecuador, Hungary, Poland, the United States, Venezuela, Zambia). The news link is…

What Needs to Go In an Entry?

Each entry needs to have four things:

1) A link to the story you are using, if it is available on the web. If you find a story in a print publication, you should be able to find and provide the link to it online. Many radio and television stories also likely have web links to listen or watch.

2) A short description of the event being covered. You do not need to get in great detail here. Just tell enough to cover the main points of the story. This need not be more than 2-3 sentences.

**Important: Do not cut and paste text from the story itself and use that as your summary. This constitutes plagiarism. The summary must be in your own words!**

3) Somewhere, in either the summary or the questions, you need to make it clear why you see a connection between this particular event or news story and the topic we have just covered. For example, one could write an entry on a story about the poor condition of roads in Kenya and how that has contributed to a recent traffic accident there. However, you should also make clear that you understand
that this story is related to the topic of The State (if you’re writing for that particular topic), in that even minimalists think that states should maintain roads, and the fact that Kenya does not do that very well is some indication of a weaker state.

4) At least 2 questions that came to mind as you read the story. I anticipate that these will mostly be “how” or “why” questions. For example, if you’ve read a story about ethnic violence in Myanmar (Burma), a question might be, “Why did Group A attack Group B?” If civilians, or even children, were targeted in the attack, a good question would be “Why did the attackers target children?”

A really good question integrates significant amounts of context from the story. For example, if you were reading a story from August 2013 about the elections in Zimbabwe, and the story mentioned how then-President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party won quite a few seats in opposition strongholds (such as Masvingo Province), and how the last election in 2008 had involved significant violence against members of the opposition there, you could ask, “Why did people in Masvingo Province, who had voted for the opposition in the past, vote for Mugabe’s party in this election? Wouldn’t the violence people in the region suffered at the hands of ZANU-PF supporters in 2008 have made them unlikely to ever vote for ZANU-PF?”

These questions should be something that intrigues, puzzles, or even confuses you about the story. After a few weeks of this, you will hopefully be asking the types of questions that political scientists try to answer in their work.

Bad questions (for the purpose of this assignment) would be ones that are more strictly factual in nature. For example, if you read an article on the 2013 election in Zimbabwe, and it mentioned that ZANU-PF won in Masvingo Province, a good question would *not* be, “How many people voted in Masvingo Province?” Other inappropriate questions would be, “When did Zimbabwe get its independence?” “How old is Robert Mugabe?” “What are the main crops grown in Masvingo Province?” etc.

Also, avoid questions that simply ponder what will happen in the future. For example, “How much longer will authoritarianism last in Zimbabwe?” is not a good question for this assignment. Political scientists mainly focus on analyzing things that have happened in the past.


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