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.
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 explanatory nexus between various political regime types and economic growth. Third part is about the working of the main institutions of democracies
Prerequisites for admission
Political Science is a prerequisite
Lectures and class discussion
Attending Students Required Readings: Kenneth A.Shepsle "Analyzing Politics" 2° ed. Norton , 2010 A complete syllabus will be delivered at the beginning of the course.
Non attending Students Required Readings: Kenneth A.Shepsle "Analyzing Politics" 2° ed. Norton (2010); Mancur Olson "Power and Prosperity" Basic Books (2000)
Assessment methods and Criteria
Attending Students 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 and a final written exam. The final exam is equivalent to two-thirds 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 final written exam covers 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.
Non Attending students
Exam is written and covers the program for non attending students. It is composed of answers to multiple choice questions, short answers to open questions and problems with graphic solutions.