OverviewA critical understanding of the key dynamics of social, political and economic life, of the relationships between states, markets, individuals and the civil societies in which they function, is an essential basis for the study of international relations, international political economy, and conflict resolution. The module introduces students to the main issues and theoretical approaches in the study of modern Western democracies.
Part One: Main categories and perspectives of political analysis.
Week One: The Concept of the Political. About Theory and Methodology;
Week Two: The Body Politic: Essence and Organisation. Models of governance. Governments, Systems and Regimes;
Week Three: The Modern State in Historical and Analytical Perspectives.
Week Four: Liberal Democracy: Historical and Conceptual Genesis. The causal and constitutive relations between capitalism, political liberalism and democracy. (Weber, Habermas, Giddens)
Part Two: Key theoretical perspectives in (international) political economy
Week Five: Capitalism and democracy1: rational choice theories of social cooperation (Locke, Hobbes, Hume, Smith); Neorealism, Neoliberalism.
Week Six:: Capitalism and Democracy2: Structural theories: Marx, World Systems and Theories of Hegemonic Stability
Week Seven: Strange's Structural Realism, the State and Structural Power.
Week Eight: Social Constructivism (Gramsci, Hardt and Negri)
Part Three: Key themes of contention
Week Nine: Modern Democracy: transformations and crises. Polanyi and Arendt
Week Ten: Social Justice and the Political Mandate of the State. Debates on Redistribution (Polanyi, Jouvanel, Condorcet, Hayek, Erhard, Keynes, Condorcet);
Week Eleven: From redistribution to empowerment. Schumpeter, Bernstein, Gramsci, Sen.
Week Twelve: Overview and conclusion
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Method of assessment
Assessment is based on two essays. A first essay of approximately 2000 words (40% of the final mark and submitted by the end of week 4) should present a comparative analysis of two texts pertaining to two different schools of thought and dealing with the same subject matter. This essay will test students' ability to analyse a text and explicate its features in terms of ontology, epistemology and methodology, as well as to make a short, succinct presentation of the arguments in the analysed texts, reconstructing the logic of argumentation.
A second essay of approximately 3000 words (60% of the final mark) will be a properly analytical essay, to be submitted at the end of term. It is to test students' ability to formulate a research question and falsifiable hypotheses, choose an appropriate theoretical framework, design a methodology of analysis and select most relevant bibliographical sources, as well as structure logical argumentation in substantiating an argument. While the first essay tests comprehension and analysis of texts and theories, the second essay will also test the students' capacity to employ appropriate analytical tools and their ability to take a position and make a convincing case.
Feedback provided by the lecturer to students on their course essays will be focused on the quality of their arguments, in particular, and their writing style, generally.
Apart from this summative assessment, formative assessment will be given throughout the module. Students are asked to give a seminar presentation in which they address one question related to the seminar topic. Presentations last for approximately 15 minutes and students are encouraged to speak from notes rather than reading a written text.
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.
Karl Marx, Selected Writings, 2nd edn., David McLelland, ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944.
Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, (1944) 2001.
Susan Strange, States and Markets, 2nd edn., London: Pinter Publishers, 1994.
Joseph Alois Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper and Row, 1942.
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904). Harper Collins, 1930.
The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
After completing the module successfully, students will be able to:
- understand the complex interrelationships among civil society, states and the markets, as these relationships are patterned and regulated through various forms of governance.
- demonstrate familiarity with the major theoretical approaches to political economy and international political economy in particular, from classical and Marxist political economy to 20th century critics of market society;
- formulate responses to descriptive and analytical question (e.g. Who exercises power in the global economy and how? What is the role of the state in mediating between individuals and markets? ) as well as and normative and prescriptive questions (e.g: should markets be subordinated to human social relations or vice versa?);
- articulate their own theoretical stance in the context of the subject matter covered and be able to apply it to issues of contemporary relevance.
The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
- Analytical thought and writing: reflect upon complex ideas and arguments; digest, analyse and test scholarly views; relate scholarly ideas and arguments to issues and circumstances in the contemporary global political economy; summarise and analyse scholarly arguments in writing.
- Advocacy and defence: formulate an opinion in response to an issue or question, construct coherent and persuasive arguments to advocate one's view and defend that view against criticism
- Communication and presentation skills: prepare oral and written presentations of information and viewpoints to peers; respond to comment and criticism from peers; lead and manage group discussion
- Problem-solving: respond at short notice to questions and challenges making use of knowledge, analytical tools and perspectives acquired in the module