What actually is Politics and International Studies?
Like everyone, when I started uni I had a lot of friends and family members ask what I was doing: when I told them they turned up their noses. This is because there is a huge misunderstanding of what politics actually is. The average person sees politics as synonymous with government, Prime Ministers, Presidents, the law, voting, lords etc. I don’t know about you but I can totally see why studying the Boris Johnsons existence would make someone yawn. However, that is not what PAIS is at all about. It is a wonderfully intricate, complicated and vast subject that I cannot stop raving about.
In the first few weeks of my first year, we studied several popular definitions of politics, which really emphasised its broadness. For example, politics can be something that politicians do (as explained above), politics can be something we all do and can also be something that institutions do (like government or the police). When studying the subject of politics, we delve deeper into these areas: like researching the history behind politicians and their decision making or looking at where politics manifests in our everyday lives (i.e. what interactions count as political?). Even though we are still tittering on the edge of what the subject is, it is clear to see that no one definition is correct.
In terms of the “international” part of the subject, my first year was spent challenging my perspectives on what international relations is. Before starting my degree I assumed the topic was mainly based on world wars and how different countries interact on the state level, however I was delighted to find that there is fast growing group of theorists who hone in on how international politics effects the individual. One example of this is how women are effected in times of war and more specifically how women with other protected characteristics are effected. It has been incredibly interesting to theorise how we can apply policy to help improve those issues also.
Lastly, in my first few weeks of term, one of the key things that was discussed across all of my modules was the interdisciplinary nature of PAIS. My degree has not just been about politics but has also included English, Sociology, Philosophy and so many more subjects both embedded and used in conjunction with ideas of political thinkers. It has been refreshing to leave A-levels, where I personally found the curriculum to be based on a memorising and applying a set of facts to now constantly questioning every “truth” with perspectives from science to the arts.
To conclude, the main take away from this blog is… well…. PAIS is many things! Although it is hard to define I think that it is important to note that Politics and International Studies students have a good grasp of any professional situation. Even if I were not to go into a politics related career when I leave university I know that I will be able to hold my own in the workplace, with an ability to question everything and think not just outside the box but in a completely different dimension to it.