Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course students should:
know the elements of the history and theory of political institutions, with particular reference to democratic systems;
analyze and understand current political affairs;
form and communicate personal interpretations.
Course contents summary
The first part of the course aims at providing an overall introduction – both historical and theoretical – to democratic institutions.
In the second part of the course, some problems of contemporary democracy will be addressed.
Part I. Democracy: a historical overview
Democracy – basic definitions
Athenian democracy – history, institutions,
Models of justification of political power: the organicist model
Plato and Aristotle’s political thought
From the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Age. Models of justification of political power.
Authority and sovereignty
Democracy in the Middle Ages
The state – origins and history
Forms of state and forms of government
Models of justification of political power: the contractarian model
The birth of civil society
The English Revolution and the foundation of modern democracy – the historical context, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau
The American and French Revolutions
The concept of constitution
Democracy in the nineteenth century – the historical context, Tocqueville, Mill, Marx
Democracy in the twentieth century – the historical context, Weber, elitism, Kelsen,
Constitutional democracy, democracy in the supranational sphere
Part II. Democracy: some theoretical issues
Political parties – history and transformations Deliberative democracy
Democracy and the media – public sphere, digital democracy
Democracy and difference – cultural, religious, political
Human rights and universalizability
Crises and transformations of democracy – the crisis of representation, democracy and economy, democracy and supranational spaces
The rise of populist parties
Democracy and migrations
Students attending lectures should study: a) Class notes. Each chapter will be uploaded on the Elly platform before the corresponding lesson.
Notes are hypertexts that allow students to deepen, in relation to their previous knowledge, the content of the notes.
b) C. Altini (a cura di), Democrazia. Storia e teoria di un’esperienza filosofica e politica, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011, pp. 63-102; 219-308; 325-340; 369-412 (saggi di Canfora, Costa, Bencivenga, Urbinati, Zanetti, Portinaro, Petrucciani, Altini, Archibugi);
c) M. Revelli, Populismo 2.0, Torino, Einaudi, 2017.
Political Science students attending the lectures may omit the text at b).
Other texts that may be useful in order to deepen the understanding of the issues touched in the course are:
R. Esposito, C. Galli (a cura di), Enciclopedia del pensiero politico, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2005;
A. Barbera, C. Fusaro, Corso di diritto pubblico, Bologna, Il Mulino, ultima edizione;
S. Petrucciani, Democrazia, Torino, Einaudi, 2014;
G. Pino, Il costituzionalismo dei diritti, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2017.
Students who cannot attend lectures should study: S. Petrucciani, Modelli di filosofia politica, Torino, Einaudi, 2003.
The contents of the course will be presented during frontal lessons, following class notes uploaded on Elly.
In order to download the notes enrolment for the online course is required.
Class notes are part of the teaching materials.
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral examination. Abstract and applied knowledge will be tested with at least three open questions concerning the three kinds of texts required.
Attending students can choose to take an intermediate test, to be held in the first half of November, consisting of at least two open questions on part of the texts mentioned at a) and b),
Overall assessment will be consist in the weighted mean between the grade of the intermediate test and that of the final examination.