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Title: Development, institutions, and instability beyond the frustration-aggression model of political instability in developing nations
Political instability in developing nations
Authors: Shaw, Robert L.
Keywords: Political science
Developing countries
Issue Date: 1975
Abstract: One of the most persistent questions which rebounds through political science and which in fact must pervade all responsible intellectual inquiry is a question particularly crucial in inquiries dealing with political instability .. It is the question of what we do with, or about, our values. In pursuit of objective explanations of social reality how do we handle, control for, or eliminate values? This, of course, raises the more basic question of whether we ~ study politics objectively. I am of the view that we cannot. We all, whether we care to admit it or not, trudge around this planet with our little satchel full of values always at hand as a major component of our intellectual baggage. I do not see how we can escape the influence of these values in even the most basic of our intellectual undertakings -- in the very selection of problems for study, in the establishment of relevant criteria and standards for evaluating the data we uncover, or in the positions we take on important and controversial questions within the discipline. But this need not deter us, nor detract from our efforts as long as we -- both as researchers and students, -- remain aware of this fact. We can, I think, legitimately claim the mantle of science as long as we continually question the extent to which our values are tutoring the intellectual decisions we are making. There is a context in which we must rigorously strive to keep our values out of our work -- that is when our values impinge upon our empirical findings. When our belief in what ought distorts our view of what is, we have seriously erred, and I believe we must, insofar as possible, keep our work value free to this extent. Recognizing, however, that we cannot keep our values totally separated from our work, we have a responsibility, where they have impinged, to explicate them as fully as possible. I raise this question because, in the work which follows, an implicit value has been introduced, and the reader should be aware of it. What is presented here is a general theory of political instability in developing nations which treats the efficacy of politically relevant institutions as the major intervening variable between development or rapid social change, and political instability. The proposition is that the social mobilization which characterizes developing nations overburdens existing politically relevant institutions and renders them incapable of producing the desired effects. The consequence is that behavior moves outside the institutional framework of well established, structured, legitimate patterns of behavior and takes the form of aggressive politically relevant behavior which is dysfunctional in terms of the existing order of government and society. The value implicit in this theoretical framework is that political order -- the stable society -- is a prerequisite for achieving other political "goods." As a result the theory ignores legitimate questions which may be raised as to the desirability of political order as a goal and the costs involved in attaining it. Be defining political instability as aggressive politically relevant behavior which is dysfunctional in terms of the existing order of government and society, the theory ignores the possibility that governments can themselves be a source of disorder as they seek to safeguard privilege. In its present stage the theory ignores a distinction between short term political instability which may be regarded as necessary for the attainment of a long term political "good" and chronic political instability. Most Americans, for example, probably regard the temporary disorder of our own revolution as necessary and desirable for the attainment of the ends that were sought. By failing to distinguish between disorder in the form of a popular challenge to a corrupt regime and a narrowly based military coup against a democratically chosen government, the model can be said to ignore the cost of political order and the fact that there can be integrated, perfectly functional systems of tyranny or inequality or exploitation. The reader, then, is forewarned that there is a value premise implicit in the model I have formulated which is clearly manifested in the concept of political instability as I have defined it, and which is further reflected in many of the operationalized indicators of political instability derived from the definition, e.g. anti-government demonstrations, assassinations of government officials, or the presence or absence of extremist political movements. Beyond this caveat, however, I believe this study to be as free of the values formed by my own cultural experience as I am able to make it. I believe that through the disciplined application of a deductive theoretical framework and the specific knowledge and experience I bring to bear, both in terms of the universe and institution selected for study, that I have been able to control, insofar as possible, for the value predisposition implicit in the development of the model. But the reader will have to judge for himself. If I have been successful then I would argue that the validity of my analysis tracing the conditions which promote political stability is independent of whether the reader shares this goal preference or not. It should also be recognized that the model, in its present form, does not come to grips with the underlying cultural attitudes and values of the universe examined. The theory is not yet powerful enough to do more than establish a relationship between the three major variables presented. It cannot, at its present stage of evolution, get at the perceptions and attitudes of the political actors involved -- it cannot address a whole host of behavior linkages which may explain-the relationships -- they must temporarily be treated as unobservables, as part of the unknown in the social systems analyzed. The model then has certain limitations, but I believe them to represent the temporary short term costs we must expect to pay if we are to be successful in our efforts at developing general theoretical systems which may some day be powerful enough to give meaning and form to our universe. A more complex model might be able to take into account some of the phenomena this model ignores. But such an approach would be short sighted. The theory proposed is very simple and ignores certain aspects of social reality. Along with Popper and Kemeny, however, it is my view that simplicity is the crux of theory building, that theories should have the highest attainable degree of falsifiability, and that only through simplicity can we achieve this. It is only after repeatedly failing to falsify a theory in its most simple form that we should begin to build in complexity step-by-step -- attempting further falsification at each level until we ultimately attain the level of complexity and sophistication which can provide us with meaningful explanations of social reality. It is this view of theory building which justifies this present effort and the future research possibilities which it opens up. In terms of the viability of the theory as a useful model in exploring some uncharted ground in the development field, the short term costs are worth the long term potential acquired. Finally, it is only fair to recognize that Frustration-Aggression theory, and the model of political instability derived from it, as I have critiqued them in the introductory chapter, have been somewhat short changed. This does not reflect inadequate attention, nor a value premise, but a perceptual bias It is realized that I have dealt with aggression theory here in a narrow way and that the criticism presented may not be applicable to some of the more refined and sophisticated treatment of frustration and aggression in the fields of sociology and psychology; and I am not prepared to render a final judgment on the empirical foundation of these approaches. There are, however, as I have noted in the introduction, sufficient questions about the validity of the Frustration-Aggression model of political instability to warrant a search for alternative explanations -- and this is my primary purpose. I do not undertake here to seriously appraise the adequacy or inadequacy of the premises upon which the Frustration-Aggression model is based. My aim is only to provide a viable, and possibly more logically, sound, alternative from which we all may benefit whether we are proponents of Frustration-Aggression theory or not.
Description: Typescript.
Bibliography: leaves 126-131.
xi, 131 leaves ill
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Political Science

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