The "Comparative politics and development" course looks at the politics of developing areas through the lenses of comparative political analysis.
Political science aims at investigating contemporary polities, politics and policies in a scientific way. For this purpose, the comparative method represents a key and well-established strategy in the field, enabling researchers and students to elaborate, test and assess the soundness of hypotheses that explicitly connect specific political phenomena to their plausible explanations. The comparative politics literature has focused, and produced relevant evidence, on such classic issues as forms of states, political regimes and regime changes, electoral and party systems, types and formation of governments, legislative politics, policy-making processes, voting behaviour, and many others. The predominant (if certainly not the exclusive) focus of mainstream political science has been on the political systems of advanced economies in the West. Much of what has been learnt has also been of use for understanding politics in emerging and developing countries, partly also due to the transformations gradually undergone by the latter (such as economic and social advances) and the adoption of formally similar politico-institutional frameworks (such as democratic procedures).
Politics in developing areas, however, also displays features that are less commonly seen in advanced economies, such as a much more limited state capacity, the enduring presence of autocratic rule, the frequency of civil wars and other forms of armed violence, a higher prevalence of ethnic politics, neopatrimonial practices and corruption. These phenomena are not always properly captured or accounted for by mainstream political science, but they have been and are being examined by a growing body of literature.
Understanding politics in developing areas first requires framing and addressing some basic contextual, including, for example, key notions about processes of economic and social development and trajectories of transformation.
The course will specifically, if not exclusively, focus on politics in sub-Saharan Africa by looking at issues such as state formation and fragility, domestic armed conflicts, regime types and democratization/autocratization, political institutionalisation processes, neopatrimonial practices.
The first part of the course will help students gain a basic knowledge of notions, theories and processes of development, while also specifically relating this to the experience and paths of African countries since independence in the 1960s. The second part will address more specific political themes, including state building processes and state collapses, the evolution of political regimes, the political consequences of mineral resource wealth, the social and economic impact of democracy, the role of individual national leaders and of external players in a country's development.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
At the end of the course, the student will have acquired both methodological skills and substantive knowledge.
From a methodological perspective, learning concerns a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of what the comparative approach is, as well as of its various possible applications of the comparative method in the study of political institutions and processes. These tools will be useful so as to fully grasp the investigative strategies, the meaning and implications of various types of political inquiry that the student will be faced with, as well as in starting to use them directly to carry out analysis work or own research, in the political sphere but not only.
The possibility of making oral presentations in the classroom, in addition, will allow students to become familiar with the digital tools typically used for these purposes and to directly experience a situation in which they are required to prepare and communicate specific contents in front of an audience.
From the perspective of substantive knowledge, the student will have acquired knowledge and understanding of some key development notions and issues as well as some of the main institutional structures and political processes in contemporary developing countries (i.e. state building, political regimes, electoral practices, civil wars, etc.), both in broad and comparative terms as well as, for those cases that examined and discussed in more depth, in terms of individual national systems and paths.
The level of learning - that is, if and what has been learned by the student, with respect to the expected learning outcomes - will be verified and evaluated by means of one or more written tests, class presentations, attendance and participation, all aimed at assessing the student's acquired knowledge and tools as well as analytical skills.