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Sommersemester 2022

30214 The Rise of the Populist Radical Right

Tue 4 to 6 p.m.
Swen Hutter

Many countries in Europe and beyond have seen the emergence and establishment of strong populist radical right movements and parties. Examples range from the French Rassemblement national, the Hungarian Fidesz party, to Trump’s rise to power through the Republican Party. In the seminar, we will engage with three major scholarly explanations for the increasing popularity of these actors and their political implications. The first explanation puts economic factors and social inequalities center stage. The second one interprets the rise of these actors as a backlash against cultural liberalism and diversity. In contrast, the third explanation puts a stronger emphasis on political dynamics within and beyond nation-states. We will engage with these three explanations by reading three monographs over the semester. Thus, the students have to be prepared for a relatively heavy reading load and a mix of self-studying and in-class group discussions.

Suggested reading:

Norris, Pippa and Ronald Ingelhart (2019): Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

15342a The Politics of Social Inequalities

Tue 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Swen Hutter, Christoph Nguyen

The seminar focuses on the link between social inequalities and political mobilization in advanced democracies. Specifically, the students will get to know scholarly work on trends in social inequalities, perceptions of inequalities, and their structuring effects on political participation. To what extent and why are social inequalities perceived as unfair? To what extent and why are they ‘translated’ into unequal rates of participation and what modes of participation (ranging from electoral participation via protest to political consumerism) are related to what kind of inequalities (e.g., social class, education, gender, race)? Apart from getting to know the scholarly literature on these topics, the students will also get to know the analytical tools needed to study these questions. Using available datasets, students will develop basic skills in quantitative research and use them to explore course-relevant questions. No prior experience with statistical methodology is expected or required. The seminar involves self-studying, short written inputs, interactive sessions for common discussions, and online lab exercises to learn the basics of R (the programming and free statistical software used for the class).

Suggested reading:

Dalton, Russel J. (2017). The Participation Gap. Social Status and Political Inequality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

30229 Citizens and politics − a disconnected link

Tue 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Mirjam Dageförde

Political representation is among the most important aspects in the analysis of the idea and practice of modern democracy and a constitutive pattern of modern large-scale democracy.  Accordingly, there are quite diversified doctrines and practices of representative government that persist until today.

In recent years the legitimacy of representative logic has been called into question due to several factors: the erroneous notions of democracy often offered by the media and opinion polls, the idea of power being confiscated by a caste of politicians, further enhanced by processes of European integration and globalization. Meanwhile, we face a presumed “crisis of representation”, a loss of confidence in politicians, political parties and institutions which leads to growing gaps between society and the political sphere. Hence, the analysis of the process of representation, approaches to judge about its quality and the identification of defects become more and more relevant for political scientist as well as for practitioners.

Recurring to Pitkin’s famous description of representation as the making present something that is literally absent which occurs if politicians act in the interest of the represented, the schedule of this seminar is as follows: First, we discuss the presumed crisis of representation through investigating indicators for it. Second, we examine the concept of representation and classify the main actors and institutions in this process. Third, the approaches for (a) analyzing actor’s behavior and (b) judging about the quality of representation are discussed. This will lead to an examination of factors that influence actor’s behavior and elements that might affect the quality of representation. Finally, we critically reflect our findings and discuss possibilities to weaken the ties between citizens and politics. The readings are a mix of classics and current literature on the given topic.

To sum up, the seminar addresses the following questions:

  • What is political representation and how can we address the relation between citizens and the political sphere?
  • Which aspects concern political representation?
  • What are the most important actors and institutions in the process of representation?
  • How can we judge about the quality of representation?
  • What influences the quality of representation?
  • How does populism and the rise of challenger parties influence representation and its functioning?
  • What is the meaning of these findings for the (prospective) functioning of representative democracy?

30231 Research Design

Tue 4-6 p.m.
Mirjam Dageförde

If there is one thing you should have learned in the master's program, it should be how to identify and conduct excellent academic research. You should be able to assess the state of the existing literature, identify research questions of interest, formulate strategies to answer them, know the methodological tools with which to conduct the research, and write up the results so that they can contribute to existing knowledge.

Using examples from social sciences, the course will familiarize you with current standards of research in social sciences. You will work in groups to formulate a research question, develop hypotheses, and create your own research design to answer your question. Although the course is not in itself a lecture on statistical methods, it also refers to quantitative methods.

Course Objectives

  • Knowledge of the elements and relevance of a research design
  • Produce a rigorous and precise research design
  • Formulate research questions & hypotheses
  • Individual and collective components

  Academic Integrity This course is based on the principles of academic integrity established by Freie Universität Berlin. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. All documents submitted must be your own work and sources must be properly cited.