Political Institutions and Decision-making

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
A course aimed at giving analytical, methodological and interpretative skills for knowledge, understanding and analysis of decision making in institutional political arena, focusing in particular on the Italian political system. After an introduction to the fundamental theoretical models for the study of decision-making processes, we will focus on the analysis of the Italian political system, which will be examined both in synchronic and diachronic terms, mainly covering the following topics: origins, fundamental structures, evolutionary dynamics and critical junctures. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of the Italian government, from the viewpoint of both the institutional profiles deriving from constitutional norms and the more consolidated institutional practices, mainly with regards to decision making, leadership style and party system relationship.
Expected learning outcomes
a) Knowledge and Understanding: at the end of the course, the student will have got a set of analytical, methodological and interpretative skills, related to the contents and the outcomes of decision making in the main institutional arenas of a democratic polity. From a methodological point of view, these competences will be framed in a systematic knowledge of some useful tools to analyze and diagnose decision-making in political institutions.
b) Applying Knowledge and Learning Skills: this toolkit should allow the student to make analysis of the main decision-making processes concerning with the functioning of a political system, mainly with regards to the Italian political system. The student will learn to examine parties interaction, law making, parliament and government relations, parties' strategies in government coalitions, government decision making, between institutional level and leadership effects. The understanding of these processes will be combined with a relatively good knowledge of the functioning of the Italian political system.

c) Communication Skills: presentation and discussion of case studies in classroom, should allow the student learning to communicate contents and results of the analysis of a given political decision-making to several interlocutors, specialists and non-specialists ones.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
The lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform and can be followed both synchronously, based on the ordinary lesson schedule, and asynchronously, as they will remain available to students on the same platform. Further teaching materials, to compensate the impossibility of holding lessons in person, will be available on the ARIEL platform.

Program and reference
The program and reference will not change.

Learning evaluation procedures and assessment criteria
The exam will take place in oral form, using the Microsoft Teams platform.
Course syllabus
The program consists of two Teaching Units (a-b), each of twenty hours.

Teaching Program - Unit (a)
The first Unit, with an introductory character, is dedicated to investigating the main theoretical paradigms in the analysis of decision-making processes and in the study of political and social institutions. Particular attention will be paid to the fundamental mechanisms of social behaviour, between constraints of compliance with social norms and freedom of action in terms of strategic rationality. First, the model of decision-making will be introduced in the perspective of the rational choice theory. We will then examine other variants of the theory of action, which have assumed differently qualified models of individual rationality, up to the paradigm of bounded rationality. Finally, neo-institutionalist theories and the theory of social systems will be introduced, integrating them with evolutionary approaches useful for the study of change.

Teaching Program - Unit (b)
The second Unit is dedicated to analyse the functioning of some institutional arenas (electoral system, party system, parliament, government) of the Italian political system, in its evolution from the origins of the Unitary state to the most recent years. The different stages of development of the Italian political system will be examined, focusing in particular on its evolution from the Second World War to the last general elections (2018): from the promulgation of the Italian republican Constitution, through the so-called "Parties' Republic", up to the unstable tripolarization that has characterized the most recent years. It will privilege the analysis of the actor behavior and the structural characteristics of the fundamental institutional framework, highlighting the anomalies and criticalities that have marked the historical experience of our country, from the origins of the Unitary state to the Republican constituent phase and until today.
Prerequisites for admission
None prerequisite is required.
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons, written report and presentations by students, case studies, group discussions, also with the participation of testimonials from the political and institutional world. Teaching integration materials will be available on ARIEL.
Teaching Resources
Unit (a):
1- N. Addario e L.M. Fasano, La logica della società, Egea Università Bocconi Editore, Milano 2012.

Unit (b):
1- N. Addario e L.M. Fasano, Il sistema politico italiano. Origini, evoluzione, struttura, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2019.
2- P. Martelli, L'istituzione del disordine. Regole del gioco e giocatori nella politica italiana dal 1946 al 2018, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 2018.
3- M. Cotta e L. Verzichelli, Il sistema politico italiano, il Mulino, IV edizione, Bologna 2020.
4- F. Musella (a cura di), Il governo in Italia. Profili costituzionali e dinamiche politiche, il Mulino, Bologna 2019.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Written exam: test aimed at verifying learning of analytical, methodological and interpretative skills aimed at knowing and mastering the decision-making process as it is carried out in the context of political and government institutions, with particular reference to the Italian political systems and its government institutions.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Students can contact the teacher by e-mail or by chat on Microsoft Teams to arrange for day and reception hours on line. Please indicate as e-mail subject: "Student reception: MEETING REQUEST". Prefer Microsoft Teams chat if my undergraduates or students
Room 313 - SPS Department of Social and Political Science, 3rd Floor. During Covid-19 Emergency only for my undergraduates and by previous appointment.