PSCI 254
Democracy in Comparative Perspective Spring 2010
Division II
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This course deals with what democracy means and how it is achieved. It begins by weighing competing definitions of democracy. Democracy increasingly is being viewed in procedural terms: democratic societies are societies that make decisions in particular kinds of ways, regardless of the substance of decisions. While this view has deep roots in democratic theory and practice, it has competed historically with more substantive definitions of democracy, which emphasize outcomes and, particularly, progress towards equality of outcomes. This course will examine this debate and consider the reasons why procedural definitions currently are ascendant. Then the course considers what it means to understand democracy to be universally available. What does it mean to ditch the “preconditions” that formerly were considered to be necessary prior to the making of democratic government and to conceive of democracy as a global force? Does that mean that democracy is available to all societies or does that mean that the expansion of capital globally is being called “democracy?” To get at the stakes in this question, the course will consider in depth the impact of the “third wave” of democratization on Latin America and Africa. What processes are being designated as “democratic,” why do they coincide with high levels of socio-economic inequality, and what is the impulse behind democratization? Finally, the course will address the role of identities, especially ethno-cultural ones, in democracies: what weight do identities play in representation and what impact does representation via identity have on equality in democratic government?
The Class: Format: seminar/lecture
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 3163
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: one 3-page paper, one 5- to 7-page paper, and one 15-page project
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PSCI Comparative Politics Courses

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