PSC/IR 355 Democratic Processes

Political Science Field: Comparative Politics
International Relations Track: Governance of Nations (C)
Typically offered every 2-3 years

G. Bingham Powell, Jr.
Spring 2013 — T 9:30-12:15

Course Syllabus

This course is a graduate seminar, involving collective discussion of core readings and student presentations on special topics and specific countries. The comparative democratic political processes subfield focuses on the process of choosing political leaders and making political decisions in the context of competitive elections and relative freedom of political action. We begin by discussing the empirical meaning of contemporary democracies, the nature of democratic transitions, and the effect of social and economic context. We then take quick looks at differing citizen values, constitutional rules, and the comparative study of citizens' attitudes and behavior. The second half of the course focuses on groups and, especially, political parties: competition, organization, coalitions, legislative and executive behavior, connections between citizens and policy makers. Although for graduate students the course fulfills requirements for the democratic political processes subfield in comparative politics, no specific background is assumed and the course is appropriate for any graduate student.

G. Bingham Powell, Jr.
Spring 2007

Course Syllabus

This course is designed to introduce the comparative study of democratic political processes. This subfield of comparative politics focuses on the process of choosing political leaders and making political decisions in the context of competitive elections and relative freedom of political action. We begin by discussing some philosophical issues concerning the nature and justification of democracy. We then take quick looks at the effects of differing societal contexts, the origins and consequences of constitutional rules, and the comparative study of citizens' attitudes and behavior. The second half of the course focuses on groups and, especially, political parties: competition, organization, coalitions, legislative and executive behavior, connections between citizens and policy. Grades are based on class discussion, a formal seminar presentation, a midterm, and an analytic paper or final exam. The class is intended primarily for graduate students but is open, upon instructor approval, to upper-level undergraduates who have shown both extraordinary promise and strong interest in comparative politics.