Comparative Politics and Democratization
Credits: 6 ECTS
This course introduces the main theoretical approaches and analytical tools used in the field of comparative politics. While the systematic comparison of political processes and outcomes across different units –mostly across countries- is the core feature of comparative political analysis, the field explores a wide range of political phenomena, navigates in broad geography, comprises contrasting research schools, adopts diverse conceptual and methodological tools, and proposes competing explanations to substantive political questions. The central aim of this course is to acquaint students with the major theoretical and methodological debates in comparative politics, while primarily focusing on the topic of democracy, political institutions, and democratization. Throughout the course, we will mainly concentrate on recent political events and adopt a broad geographic scope, studying both advanced industrial societies and developing countries.
The main topics of the course are:
- The causes and consequences of democratization
- The comparative analysis of political institutions (the institutional configuration of democratic regimes, executives and legislatures)
- The comparative study of political behavior and public opinion formation (leadership, political parties, and public opinion)
A key component of this course is the active participation of students. In addition to attending lectures, students will participate in six practical sessions.
- Attendance and participation in practical sessions: 50%. Practical sessions include the delivery of in-class activities, presentations, and discussion papers. Further details of this part are available in the program of practical sessions.
- Presentation of weekly readings and leading the class discussion: 6%. Each class meeting will have a group of presenters who will take turns in briefly presenting that week’s reading assignment and leading class discussion in light of seminar’s key questions. The presenters will have to apply the content of the reading to a recent empirical case: How do the readings help understand contemporary politics? The presentations are going to be very brief and students will have about 15 minutes.
- In-class short quizzes: 9%. There will be three in-class short quizzes (3 points each) that will be based on reading assignments, lectures, and class discussions. Quizzes will include short answer questions, concept definitions, and fill-in-the-blank questions. The quizzes will take place in class 5 (November), 8 (November) and 11 (December).
- A final take-home exam: 35 %. Details of the final take home exam will be discussed in class.