The course aims at introducing the study of politics from a rational choice perspective. In the first introductory module the students will be introduced to a) the main concepts and theoretical results of the social choice theory , b) the spatial models of the electoral behaviour c) the game theory applied to the voting behaviour in the committees.
The second module will focus on the effects of the main democratic institutions on the decision-making processes and the nature of political actors .
In the last module we will focus on the origin of the state, on the democratization process and on the collective action problems.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student is expected 1) to know the main concepts of the rational choice approach to the politics and to orientate him/herself among the main explanations of political phenomena dealt in the classroom and in the readings. 2) to apply the "strategic thinking" proper of the rational choice approach to the political real world events in order to interpret smartly the behaviour of the main political actors in the domestic arenas of the democratic countries. 3) to become aware of the difficulties of the collective action and of the ways experienced by the politicians and ordinary people to overcome them.
Lesson period: Second trimester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
In the first module the theoretical assumptions of the rational choice approach will be briefly discussed and some simple examples of application of the theory will be illustrated. An introduction to the spatial models of voting and to the theory of veto players will conclude this part. In the second module we will address the effect of the main political institutions in the modern democracy. The topics of this module will be the forms of representative government, the law making process , the government coalition formation , the referendum, the interaction between politicians, bureaucrats and courts The third part of the course will equally divided between the study of the birth of the State and Democracy and an introduction to the cooperation' dilemmas that characterize many political phenomena.
Non-attending students Shepsle K. "Analyzing Politics", W.W. Norton& Company second edition Tsebelis G. "Veto Players", Princeton University Press Ostrom E. "Commons", Cambridge University Press
Assessment methods and Criteria
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 and a final written exam. Overall the mid-term and the final written exams cover the entire syllabus, including readings that are presented by the students. These exams are made of answers to multiple choice questions, short answers to open questions and problems with graphic solutions.