Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course students should:
1. know the elements of the history and theory of political institutions, with particular reference to democratic systems (knowledge and understanding);
2. understand and critically address current political affairs (applying knowledge and understanding, making judgements);
3. form and communicate personal interpretations (communication skills).
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, Spinoza, Montesquieu, Rousseau
The American and French Revolutions
The concept of constitution
Democracy in the nineteenth century – the historical context, Kant, Tocqueville, Mill, Hegel, Marx
Democracy in the twentieth century – the historical context, Weber, Schumpeter, Rawls, Nozick, Habermas, Foucault.
Part II. Consitutional democracy
Limits of democracy. Civil, Political and social rights.
Political parties – history and transformations Democracy and difference – cultural, religious, political.
Democracy and the media – public sphere, digital democracy
Crises and transformations of democracy – the crisis of representation, democracy and economy, democracy and supranational spaces.
The rise of populist parties
Democracy and truths
Social work students should study:
a) L. Marchettoni, Breve Storia della democrazia. Da Atene al populismo, Firenze, Firenze University Press, 2018.
b) M. Meriggi, L. Tedoldi (a cura di), Storia delle istituzioni politiche. Dall’antico regime all’era globale, Roma, Carocci, 2014, pp. 15-36; 59-79; 129-148; 169-194 (essays by Mannori, Sofia, Meriggi, Giorgi);
c) One of the following:
1. G. Cosenza, Semiotica e comunicazione politica, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2018, pp. 5-139;
2. C.R. Sunstein, #Republic. La democrazia nell’epoca dei social media, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2017, pp. 7-174;
3. A.M. Lorusso,
Postverità, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2018, pp. 3-141.
Political Science students 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;
S. Petrucciani, Modelli di filosofia politica, Torino, Einaudi, 2003.
The contents of the course will be presented during frontal lessons, following handouts uploaded on Elly on a weekly basis.
Involvment on the part of students trough questions is encouraged.
In order to download the handouts enrolment for the online course is required.
Handouts are part of the teaching materials but do not replace te study of textbooks
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.
Students should prove to master fundamental notions and to be capable of appliying them by formulationg personal considerations.
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 about the first half 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.