Rationality, Behaviour and Institutions

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course surveys approaches to and models of politics based on the rational-actor paradigm. The underlying assumption is that politics, like economics, may be described and understood in terms of rational, goal-seeking behaviour by individuals in various institutional contexts .
The course's main emphasis is on analysing political phenomena, not judging them. In other terms the course does not deal with the normative attractiveness of alternative political procedures and different policy outcomes . Nevertheless during the course, the clear-cut presentation of the intended and unintended consequences of the individual and collective political behaviours will allow the students to judge and formulate their normative conclusions .
The course aims also at improving the students' awareness that politics is mainly about strategic interaction, that institutions matter and that "irrational" and suboptimal collective outcomes are fully compatible with rational individuals.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student is expected
1)to be in condition to use the theoretical apparatus they have learned in order to read and interpret the historical and current political events.
2)To think in terms of expected utility and "strategically"
3)To represent in a policy space the decision making process of the main institutions of a democracy.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
Course syllabus
The course is organized in three parts.
The first part of the course is dedicated to the assumptions of the rational choice theory, to the voting behaviour and to the voting outcomes within groups.
The second part deals with the dilemmas of the collective actions, the production of public good and the negative externalities.
Third part is about the working of the main democratic institutions.
Prerequisites for admission
Political Science is a prerequisite
The attendance of Mathematics , Statistics and Microeconomics can facilitate the learning of the course's main topics.
Teaching methods
The course is organized in lectures of the teacher, short student presentations and class exercises.
Teaching Resources
Attending students
Kenneth A.Shepsle "Analyzing Politics" 2° ed. Norton , 2010
A complete syllabus will be delivered at the beginning of the course. It will be available on http://fzucchinirbi.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/v3/home/Default.aspx

Non-attending students
Kenneth A.Shepsle "Analyzing Politics" 2° ed. Norton (2010)
Mancur Olson "Power and Prosperity" Basic Books (2000)
Assessment methods and Criteria
All students are expected to do all the reading for each class session and may be called upon at any time to provide summary statements of it.
Evaluation is based upon the regular participation in the classroom activities, a "mid-term" written exam and a final written exam.
The final and mid term exams are equivalent to four-fifth of the assessment. The rest of the evaluation is based on active participation to lectures and student presentations of essays, articles and book chapters that are included in the syllabus.
The "mid term" exam and the final exam cover the entire syllabus, including readings that are presented by the students. It is composed of answers to multiple choice questions, short answers to open questions and problems with graphic solutions.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 9
Lessons: 60 hours
Professor: Zucchini Francesco
Due to the health emergency, the office hours are suspended. It will be possible to contact me via Skype or telephone by appointment to be taken by email.
room 308, third floor, Dpt. Social and Political Sciences