Spring 2009

SOCS 647
Democracy and Dictatorship: Politics in the Contemporary World


01/27/2009 - 05/05/2009
Tuesday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

This course is an introduction to debates about the state of political life around the world in the post-cold war era. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, capitalism and democracy seem to have triumphed over their main rival, communism. Yet doubts about the viability of democracy remain in many countries that have made the transition to democracy but are torn by ethnic conflict or fettered by desperate poverty. Doubts also remain about the quality of political life in the world's most advanced democracies.

The course will introduce the three main paradigms for explaining political behavior, and will review the historical evolution of the world's main political systems. It will also engage with current debates in political science about democracy, development, and corruption. Students will examine recent political events in Great Britain, France, Russia, China, India, Mexico, Iran and South Africa.

The course will take a problem-oriented approach, looking at how these different political systems respond to pressures such as ethnic tensions, economic liberalization, and scandal in an era when political parties are weakening, ideologies becoming more diffuse, and democratic leaders more bland.

Readings include Jeffrey Kopstein and Mark Lichback, eds., Comparative Politics, and Robert Dahl, On Democracy. We will make extensive use of videos, Web sites, and newspaper articles in addition to books and academic journals.

Students will complete three short papers (2-3 pages each) on each country studied and a final research paper (8 - 10 pages).

This course is open to auditors.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Peter Rutland (B.A. Oxford University; D. Phil. York University) is professor of government and author and editor of numerous books, including Business and State in Contemporary Russia (Westview, 2001); The Politics of Economic Stagnation in the Soviet Union: The Role of Local Party Organs in Economic Management (Cambridge University Press, 1993); and The Myth of the Plan: Lessons from Soviet Planning Experience (Open Court, 1985). Click here for more information about Peter Rutland.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Robert Dahl, POLYARCHY (Yale University Press), Paperback

Jeff Kopstein & Mark Lichbach, COMPARATIVE POLITICS (Cambridge University Press), Paperback

Karl Marx & F. Engels, COMMUNIST MANIFESTO (Signet Classic), Paperback


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