Positive political theory

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
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.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
The teaching activity will take place remotely via a zoom link that will be posted on the ariel website https://fzucchinippt.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/v5/home/Default.aspx
Course syllabus
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.
Prerequisites for admission
Game Theory is a prerequisite.
Teaching methods
Lectures and class discussion
Teaching Resources
Attending students
A complete syllabus will be delivered at the beginning of the course. To have an idea of its contents, take a look at last year's syllabus at http://fzucchinippt.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/v3/home/Default.aspx

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.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 9
Lessons: 60 hours
Professor: Zucchini Francesco
Educational website(s)
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