For most of history, human societies have been ruled by dictators of one sort or another. Despite repeated tides of democratization, over 40 percent of the countries in the world today and half its population are still ruled by non-democracies. The aim of this course is to provide a critical understanding of the dynamics of contemporary authoritarianism and the sources of its resilience. First, the course will examine the key differences between democracy and autocracy, and among different types of autocracies. The second part will investigate the means by which contemporary autocracies stay in power. In addition to traditional tactics like repression, clientelism and propaganda, we will explore how autocracies adopted economic, nationalist and populist appeals, and nominally democratic institutions like parties, legislatures and elections, to sustain their rule. The third part will focus on societies ruled by dictatorships, as well as the forces behind the waves of democratization and authoritarian resurgence. It will look at popular opinion and mobilization in autocracies, the sources of resistance, and the dynamics of protests and rebellions that sometimes topple these regimes. Throughout the course, we will explore key case studies to examine how authoritarian systems work in practice. We will also survey key novels, films, journalistic accounts and documentaries to inform class discussions and analysis.
The Class: Type: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: mid-term exam, term paper, class participation
Extra Info: not available for the fifth course option
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II;