Political Culture (SPS-RESDI-CUL-21)


Department SPS
Course category SPS Foundation Seminar
Course type Seminar
Academic year 2021-2022
Credits 20 (EUI SPS Department)
Contact Dari, Jennifer
  Course materials


Nomothetic accounts of politics have postulated a deductive framework to explain political behavior, in principle applicable across space and over time. In this framework, self-interest is the driving force of human action, dictating decisions based on two ingredients, both exogenously given: preferences and institutions. Within this set-up, culture has been treated as a residual quantity, devoid of any analytic power. The purpose of this course is to unpack this residual. We will look at the following questions: 

• What is culture?
• How is it formed?
• How does it persist over time?
• What forces lead to cultural change?
• What are the economic and political implications of culture?

We will try to think about the impact of culture on the way people understand politics, form their attitudes and act politically. We will also pay attention to institutions and processes that either help culture transcend from one generation to the next or lead to its rupture.
Embedded in the discussion about culture are also other important concepts that we will look at, such as social norms and group identities. We will examine how social norms form, foster cultural persistence and under what conditions they change. We will look at the implications of norms on both economic and non-economic outcomes. Finally, we will look at how culture is linked to the formation of group identity. We will look at both theoretical and empirical work on social identity theory.
The seminar will be run via a discussion on the readings. Neither presentations nor response papers will be requested. You will however be eagerly asked to contribute in the discussion. Auditing is only accepted if you let me know well in advance, i.e. at least a week before the seminar. You will be expected to be as prepared as those taking credits. 
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Page last updated on 21 September 2018

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