Attending a talk by
Ha-Joon Chang introduced me to the links of Economics, Politics and Philosophy
when I found that no theory in economics could explain everything and I was
drawn to philosophy’s debates to greater understand democracy and society. Current
affairs and a talk at The Young People and Politics Conference urged me to find
the political ideals behind decisions and explore the interconnectivity of
these subjects.

Studying
traditional economics led me to pursue newer views such as “23 Things They
Don’t Tell You about Capitalism”. It has the unorthodox view that the free
market is a political construct, making me question whether trickle-down
economics was as well. The most striking view was that big governments are
better for people which opposed my preconception that its bureaucratic nature
can be a hindrance rather than a help, however countries with larger welfare
states encourage risk-taking instead of creating stagnation. Richard H. Thaler’s
“Misbehaving” was fascinating as I found the Endowment Effect contested Rational
Choice Theory, showing how we don’t always make logical decisions, reinforcing
the flaws of economic theories. These books offered conflicting views of
original theories and since there is a traditional focus in the course, they
have helped me develop my evaluative skills to use at university.

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Participating
in debating sessions at school on religion, justice and privacy expanded my
awareness of moral issues. This enhanced my ability to structure and organise
my thoughts, improving my critical thinking skills as I approached questions I
had no prior expertise on. After these debates I was interested in growing my
insight of how knowledge can be used as a tool for control and so I read Miranda
Fricker’s “Epistemic Injustice”. It delves into epistemology, presenting
knowledge as a pool that people can add to or prevent others from accessing. I
found it can be applied to dictatorships like North Korea as information can be
constricted to isolate people from a global society, for the benefit of the
state.  Whilst serving as an
introduction to one concept, it has advanced my curiosity into more aspects of
this discipline.

To
understand leader’s political actions I read “The Prince” by Machiavelli,
finding some truth in his ideas of an effective leader in the modern day. Democratic
leaders, such as those in the UK, prefer to be loved and be elected, rather
than feared like terror groups. Imitating the fox and the lion is also relevant
today as dictators may use policy and violence to stay in power. Paul Mason’s
“Post Capitalism” exhibited how neoliberalism only dealt with the effects of
the crash and not the causes due to the lack of regulation. Realising how
useful a well-funded state is made me question austerity’s benefits and the
long term effects of political decisions. Both books were valuable for studying
ideology and I gained a basis of knowledge of political systems and leaders which
I can expand on within the course when comparing different political thought.

Focusing
my EPQ on “To what extent is the EU a United States of Europe?” allows me to investigate
a topic I am interested in. I initially found that Germany exerts more
authority than other states, suggesting the EU is not united, but this was due
to its larger economy and population. It is an introduction
to the skills I can use for my dissertation such as assessing the validity of sources
and conducting independent research.

Outside
of education my paid job and charity volunteering have developed my communication
skills due to interacting with a range of people. Since I intend on joining
societies and contributing to debating I believe this will help me interact
with the larger groups of people I will meet at university. Moreover, I have
learnt how to manage my work-life balance which is crucial for this course, as
I will have a range of modules to study for meaning I can dedicate enough time
to each discipline in detail.

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