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Parties and Party Systems (SPS-REHIX-PAR-22)


Department SPS
Course category SPS Methods Seminar
Course type Seminar
Academic year 2022-2023
Credits 20 (EUI SPS Department)
Contact Dari, Jennifer
  Course materials

06/10/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana

13/10/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Theatre, Badia Fiesolana

20/10/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana

27/10/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Emeroteca, Badia Fiesolana

03/11/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Sala del Capitolo, Badia Fiesolana

10/11/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana

17/11/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Emeroteca, Badia Fiesolana

24/11/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana

01/12/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana

08/12/2022 11:00-13:00 @ Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana


This seminar combines an introduction to some of the “classic” works on parties and party systems (such as Lipset and Rokkan, Downs, Mair, Laver, Kitschelt, etc.), as well as an analysis of some of the latest research in this field.  The seminar will start by looking at the emergence of modern political parties in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and also discuss some of the new research on this period in historical political science/political economy.  We will then move on to look at the two main sides of party systems theory: (1) the “demand side” – the development, de-alignment and re-alignment of cleavages between parties and social groups; and (2) the “supply side” – the organisation and behaviour of parties as strategic actors in a multi-dimensional space.  The seminar will then look at how the “institutional” design of democracy shapes party development and party competition, including electoral systems, legislative-executive relations, and coalitions and government formation.  Each week, we will read several “classic” papers on a topic as well as some recent empirical papers with advanced (causal) research designs and new data analytic techniques.  The seminar discussion will focus on the evolution of knowledge on a particular topic, and how the research frontier may be taken forward in that area.  Participants will be expected to carefully explain and dissect the theoretical ideas, research design and empirical analysis in the papers each week. 

This seminar is designed to help researchers working on a range of topics, from parties and party systems, political behaviour, historical political science/political economy, and democracy and democratic institutions.

The assignment for the course will be an 8 to 10-page (double-spaced) paper on one of the topics of the course.  The paper should cover at least two things: (1) a critical review of the theoretical approaches, research designs, and/or empirical findings of at least two papers on the topic; and (2) a discussion of a research agenda for progressing knowledge on the topic. 


Learning Outcomes:  Understand the distinction between behavioralism and institutionalism, and their theoretical assumptions, including the similarities and differences of the three branches (rational choice, sociological and historical institutionalism). Be able to propose research designs and methodologies derived from these three schools for specific empirical problems. Learn from key examples how to parse the literature and develop a rationale and justification for a dissertation puzzle. Develop a sensitivity to the fit of theortical model to a given empirical application.

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Page last updated on 21 September 2018

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