Politics, Sociology and International Relations Personal Statement
Submitted by Ryan
The increasing polarisation of politics in western democracies has fascinated and encouraged me to further my knowledge in the study of this area. In particular, events such as the success of AfD in the German election, the rise of left-wing parties in Europe like Podemos and right-wing politicians such as Le Pen of the National Front have ignited my curiosity regarding psephology given that it is such a dynamic area of study that plays a integral role in understanding modern politics. I am most intrigued by the US Presidential Election of 2016 and have thoroughly enjoyed researching about the voting behaviour.
I especially enjoy reading different opinion articles such as JD Vance's who in the Guardian illuminates the main factors that drove the Americans to vote for such a maverick candidate. JD Vance argues that they are a forgotten class, once targeted by President Johnson's "war on poverty" program. Psephology encapsulates my interest in the intertwined disciplines of political and social sciences, and its importance as it allows us to infer the different sociological elements such as class, age and gender manifested in election results to gain an understanding of the relationship between society and politics, which helps governments form policy. My desire to develop my knowledge and appreciation of gender issues led me to explore and read on the subject.
I have focused my EPQ on gender studies, looking at it from a sociological and psychological perspective and thus adopting a holistic approach. I became interested in the notion of gender through my study of English Literature. Reading texts such as Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" allowed me to explore the politics and contrast between the sexes throughout history; this then led me to learn more about the feminist movement.
In reading texts, I have learned to critically analyse texts, and write about them in essays focused on analysis and evaluation. Kate Millett's Sexual Politics enlightened me on how there is a relationship between sex and power in individual relationships that mirrors the distribution of power between the sexes in society as a whole. Furthermore, I am eager to enhance my understanding of political ideology. Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" gave me an insight into how ideologies form in relation to politics and sociology. Learning about psychological and sociological concepts in the book, such as herd behaviour, confirmation bias and social conformity made me relate this to my knowledge of 1920s and 1930s Europe gained through my study of A-Level History and further reading.
It is interesting to see how the social ideas Pinker refers to contributed to the spread of Fascism by Hitler, Mussolini and Franco as it became more extreme. One of my proudest achievements is founding my sixth form's Politics and Debating Society. I work with younger pupils to facilitate debates, discussion and reading on topics such as systems of government, Brexit and the comparison of uncodified and codified constitutions. Facilitating debate has taught me to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in arguments and to be pervasive yet conscious of the need to adapt when new information is presented that challenges my opinion. I was privileged to undertake an internship recently in the Parliamentary Office of Theresa May. In my role I prepared research briefs for her constituency engagements that allowed me to utilise and develop my research skills. I have enhanced my time management skills to ensure that debating and other roles and experiences, such as my student representative role and my place in a political discussion group, do not have an adverse effect on my study.
I am eager to approach study at university with relish, determination and an ardent work ethic to ensure that I achieve the best degree of which I am capable.