Department of Political Science

PSC/IR 258 Democratic Regimes

Political Science Field: Comparative Politics
International Relations Track: Governance of Nations (C)
Typically offered every year

Adam Cohon
Spring 2016 — W 14:00-16:40

Course Syllabus

At present, most people live under democratic regimes. Yet democracies vary in the extent to which citizens can exercise their rights and hold leaders accountable. In this course we will read major historical and contemporary works on issues such as clientelism, democratic accountability, party and party system institutionalization, and incomplete state capacity. Weekly class discussions will explore applications of theoretical readings to contemporary democratic regimes in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Gretchen Helmke
Spring 2008 ("W" Optional)

Course Syllabus

Why have some countries made a successful transition to democracy, while others have not? Why are some democracies more stable than others? Are some forms of democratic governance better than others at promoting stability or better governance? What are the trade-offs that different choices of democratic institutions entail? And how can countries that are already democratic improve the quality and effectiveness of their institutions? To answer these questions, this course offers a survey of the leading literature in comparative politics centered on the topic of democratization. The first part of the course will be devoted primarily to examining competing theories about the conditions and causes of the emergence and consolidation of democracy. The second part of the course examines theories about why different democratic institutions are chosen and how, once chosen, these institutions function. Among the topics addressed will be the merits of presidentialism versus parliamentary systems, the role of political parties, and various issues relating to questions of representation and accountability which affect the quality of democratic governance.