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Liberal Script(s) and the Rising China

(15400 & 15400a)

Dozent/inProf. Dr. Tanja A. Börzel, Lunting Wu
InstitutionFreie Universität Berlin
Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften
Arbeitsstelle für Europäische Integration
SemesterWiSe 20/21
Maximale Teilnehmerzahl40
RaumGarystr.55/ C Seminarraum

Di, 08:00-10:00 Uhr & 10:00-12:00 Uhr (Präsenz)



Kommentare: Liberal societies in the West are facing a variety of unprecedented challenges and they seemingly fall short of the capability of effectively addressing the fundamental and common issues confronted by the human-being, e.g. crisis of democracy, social inequality, climate change, and pandemic. Liberal ideas have not only been externally challenged by the ascension of authoritarian regimes or fundamentalist religious groups, but have also been circumscribed by populist parties from within the very liberal societies themselves. By contrast, the remarkable rise of the party-state in the 21st Century has placed China in the international spotlight. Its unique political and economic model has elevated it to be not only the second largest economy of the world and a key actor in international organizations, but also an alternative partner with developing countries contesting the US. Moreover, Beijing’s relative success in containing the pandemic, effectiveness in combatting climate change, realization of poverty reduction, and delivery of digitalization have appealed to other global actors and given rise to an alternative developmental model, to which liberal democracies ought to respond. This research seminar (Projektkurs) is designed to identify the challenges (or opportunities) to the liberal script posed by China, and as a forum to spark discussion and idea exchange on several core questions: (1) Is the liberal script contested or complemented by China, and how? (2) Which component of liberalism has been, is or will be contested by China? (3) Under what circumstances is liberalism more likely to be contested or complemented by China? (4) To what extent does China’s engagement with less developed countries differ from traditional actors, and how sustainable is Beijing’s approach? 

There are four separate yet inter-connected sections of the course: Liberal Script(s) (section I), Contemporary China (section II), and Research Design (section III), all of which aim to train students’ research ability to develop a relevant academic project. By the end of section I, students will be able to formulate their own definition and conceptualization of the liberal script(s), characterize different varieties, and present an overview about the evolution of the liberal script(s). After section II, students will have learned to assess the extent to which a rising China constitutes a major contestation of the liberal script. They will be able to elucidate China’s unique political, economic and development model, compare Beijing’s domestic and global trajectory with those of traditional global (liberal) actors, problematizeand analyze the relationship between Beijing’s regime and the script it promotes and liberal counterparts, and evaluate Beijing’s engagement with less developed countries/regions. Following section III, students should get the hang of key issues concerning a research project, including research question, qualitative/quantitative methodologies, concept formation, case studies, the logic of comparison, and case selection. In section IV, students will present and discuss outlines of their research papers (Projektkursarbeiten).

The Projektkurs targets MA students in the various study programs. Students have to sign up for all parts. Their research papers (Projektkursarbeiten) are supposed to develop a research project related to the liberal script in the context of a rising China.