Monday, 10 February 2014

POLS 208 Democracy, University of Otago (Semester One, 2014)

Lecture times: Wednesday 2-2.50pm and Thursday 1-1.50pm.

I am looking forward to teaching this course again this semester. One of the things that makes it interesting is what I learn from the students who do the paper. It's wonderful engaging with the diverse range of interpretations of democracy that students bring to the paper.

This course provides a forum to consider and discuss the past, present and future of democracy. It focuses on Athenian, liberal representative and socialist participatory democracy, the history of democracy in Europe and the United States, and contemporary liberal, socialist and feminist interpretations of democracy. 

As this suggests, there are three major models of democracy that have emerged thus far in history: Athenian democracy, liberal representative democracy, and socialist participatory democracy. The course is organised into sections focusing on these forms of democracy. The 2013 lecture schedule is as follows (the 2014 schedule will differ slightly but be broadly similar):

1.    What is Democracy?
Section 1: Athenian Democracy & The Roman Republic
2.    Athenian Democracy 508-322BC: Descriptive Overview
3.    Athenian Democracy 508-322BC: Critical Evaluation
4.    The Roman Republic: Democracy or Oligarchy?
Section 2: Liberal Representative Democracy
5.    What is Representative Democracy? The Liberal Pluralist View
6.    The English Revolution 1640-88
7.    The English Revolution 1640-88
8.    The Revolutionary Revival of Democracy in France 1789-95
9.    The Revolutionary Revival of Democracy in France 1789-95
10.  The American Revolution 1776-1791
11.  The US Constitution and Bill of Rights: Redefining Democracy
12.  The Liberal Justification of Capitalism and Representative Democracy
13.  The Liberal Critique of Socialism and Participatory Democracy
Section 3: Socialist Participatory Democracy
14.  The Marxist Critique of Capitalism
15.  The Marxist Critique of Representative Democracy
16.  The Paris Commune 1871 and Socialist Democracy
17.  The Russian Revolution 1917: Significance and Main Events
18.  The Russian Revolution 1917: A Democratic Revolution?
19.  The Rise and Fall of Stalinism: Death of Socialism?
20.  Revolution, Socialism and Participatory Democracy
21.  Is Socialist Participatory Democracy Feasible and Desirable?
Section 4: Democracy in the 21st Century
22.  The Feminist Critique of Liberalism and Representative Democracy
23.  Can Participatory Democracy Create Greater Gender Equality?
24.  Globalisation and Democracy: Is Globalisation Undermining Democracy?
25.  Cosmopolitan Social Democracy: A Feasible Alternative to Neoliberalism?
26.  The Global Justice and Occupy Movements

For more information and to get a clearer sense of the kind of material that we look at you can look at some of the course related material that I posted last year. The link is:;postID=6343690350044950507;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=22;src=postname

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