Advanced Introduction to Theories in the Social Sciences II: Theories of Institutional Change and Stability

Periodo di svolgimento
Ore del corso
20
Ore dei docenti responsabili
20
Ore di didattica integrativa
0
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Modalità esame

Prova scritta e orale

Prerequisiti

Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"

Programma

Overview 

 Questions of policy and institutional change have long occupied political scientists and sociologists. The purpose of this course is to examine several explanations of change in the social sciences with particular attention to the mechanisms through which policies and institutions evolve over time. Classes are loosely organized around the three main strands of institutional analysis, namely rational choice institutionalism, historical, and sociological institutionalism. In addition, we will use scholarship on contemporary puzzles to examine how and the extent to which these alternative theories can be combined to provide thorough accounts of policy and institutional change. In particular, we will focus on how social science scholars can help account for the transformations in capitalist systems and in the workings of the EU, and for the political and social consequences brough about by the COVID-19 crisis, including for the fight against climate change. 

 

Course format

 The course is articulated into eight seminars according to the timetable provided below. For each of the meeting, students are required to adopt a pro-active stance based on the reading of all the articles in the reading list. In particular, students are invited to discuss and reflect on the core theoretical assumptions that underpin distinct theories of (and approaches to) institutional change as well as on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each theory with respect to their empirical applications. Further details on class format and expectations will be provided during the first meeting. 

 

Objectives

 At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to identify the assumptions and expectations that characterize distinct theoretical strands in political science research. One major objective of the course is to help students in the organization of their theses' literature review, by reflecting on the modalities through which literature reviews can be organized and with what purposes for the empirical analysis. 

 

Assessment

 

Final grades will reflect participation and performance in seminar discussions as well as written work.

 PhD students:

(1) Class participation (50%): Participation grade will take into account the quality of contribution to discussions as well as the intensity and engagement in collective reflections.

(2) Presentation (25%): Final grade will take into account the quality of the class presentation of the assigned readings, in terms of clarity and critical engagement 

(3) Essay (25%): Each student will be required to write a short memo (3,500 words) that attempts ‘positioning’ the PhD thesis project in the relevant literatures. Further details will be provided at the beginning of the course. 

Doctoral students who opt to write a term paper for this course must consult the instructor in advance and agree on a topic. 

Master students:

(1) Class participation (50%): Participation grade will take into account the quality of contribution to discussions as well as the intensity and engagement in collective reflections.

(2) Presentation (25%): Final grade will take into account the quality of the class presentation of the assigned readings, in terms of clarity and critical engagement 

(3) Essay (25%): Each student will be required to write a critical memo (2,500 words) on one of the topics covered during the course. Further details will be provided at the beginning of the course. 

 

Schedule

 

Session n. 1 

Paradigms and the social sciences 

(5 November 10 am- 12pm)

In the first session we will focus on the presentation of the course and the functions that theoretical approaches and paradigms perform in social science research. 

 

Required readings: 

  1. Lichbach, Mark Irving (2009), “Thinking and Working in the Midst of Things”, in Mark Irving, and Alan S. Zuckerman, eds. Comparative Politic.: Rationality, Culture and Structure. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

 

  1. McCauley Adam and Ruggeri, A. (2020), From Questions and Puzzles to Research Project, in Luigi Curini and Franzese, eds. The SAGE Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations

 

 Session n. 2 

Rational choice institutionalism 

(11 November 10.30am – 1pm)

This session focuses on the first major strand of institutional analysis: rational choice institutionalism. In particular, we will focus on the theoretical assumptions, expectations, contributions, and limitations of the scholarship associated with rational choice institutionalism.

 

Required readings:

  1. Douglass North and Barry Weingast, “Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth Century England,” Journal of Economic History (December 1989). 

 

  1. Moe, Terry M. (2005), 'Power and Political Institutions', Perspectives on Politics, 3 (2), 215-33.

 

 Session n. 3

Historical institutionalism

(18 November 10.30am – 1pm)

This session focuses on the second major strand of institutional analysis: historical institutionalism. In particular, we will focus on the theoretical assumptions, expectations, contributions, and limitations of the scholarship associated with historical institutionalism.

 

Required reading:

  1. Thelen, Kathleen (2004), How Institutions Evolve. The Political Economy of Skills in Germany, Britain, the United States, and Japan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). [Chapters 1, 2 and 6]

 

 Session n.4 

Sociological institutionalism

(25 November 10 am – 1pm

This session focuses on the first major strand of institutional analysis: sociological institutionalism. In particular, we will focus on the theoretical assumptions, expectations, contributions, and limitations of the scholarship associated with sociological institutionalism.

 

Required reading:

  1. Berman, Sheri (1998), The Social Democratic Moment: Ideas and Politics in the Making of Interwar Europe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

[Chapters 1, 2 and 9]

 

 Session n. 5 

The making of neoliberal globalization 

(2 December 10.30-13)

This session focuses on a major change in the global economy with its attendant domestic consequences: the rise of neoliberal globalization. 

 

Required readings:

  1. Helleiner, E. (1994) States and the reemergence of global finance: from Bretton Woods to the 1990s.  Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press. [Chapter 1] 
  1. Kentikelenis, A. E. and S. Babb (2019) "The Making of Neoliberal Globalization: Norm Substitution and the Politics of Clandestine Institutional Change." American Journal of Sociology 124(6).

 

 

Session n. 6 

The COVID crisis and its political, social, and climate consequences

(3 December 2-4.30 pm)

This session focuses on the impact of the COVID crisis. In particular, we focus on the implications of the recent crisis for democracy and globalization and the transition towards a green economy and society.

 

Required readings:

  1. Hall, P. A. (2021) "The Shifting Relationship between Post-War Capitalism and Democracy." Government and Opposition: 1-30.
  1. McNamara, Kathleen R. and Newman, Abraham L. (2020), 'The Big Reveal: COVID-19 and Globalization's Great Transformations', International Organization, 1-19.
  1. Colgan, J. D., J. F. Green and T. N. Hale (2021) "Asset Revaluation and the Existential Politics of Climate Change." International Organization 75(2): 586-610.

 

 Sessione n.7

Learning, policy change, and the future of the European Union

(9 December 10.30am – 1pm

 

This session focuses on an important mechanism of policy and institutional change: learning. We will use EU as a case study to examine how learning takes place and with what consequences.

 

Required readings:

 

  1. Hall, P. A. (1993) "Policy Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State: The Case of Economic Policymaking in Britain." Comparative Politics 25(3): 275-296.
  1. Kamkhaji, J. C. and C. M. Radaelli (2017) "Crisis, learning and policy change in the European Union." Journal of European Public Policy 24(5): 714-734.

 

 Session n. 8 

Transnational change   

(13 December 2pm – 4.30pm)

This session focuses on the processes and mechanisms of change that take place beyond the domestic level

 

Readings:

  1. Stone, D., O. Porto de Oliveira and L. A. Pal (2020) "Transnational policy transfer: the circulation of ideas, power and development models." Policy and Society 39(1): 1-18.

 

  1. Dobbin, F., B. Simmons and G. Garrett (2007) "The Global Diffusion of Public Policies: Social Construction, Coercion, Competition, or Learning?" Annual Review of Sociology.

  

Obiettivi formativi

At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to identify the assumptions and expectations that characterize distinct theoretical strands in political science research. One major objective of the course is to help students in the organization of their theses' literature review, by reflecting on the modalities through which literature reviews can be organized and with what purposes for the empirical analysis.