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GRADUATE COURSES

States, Nations, Democracies (Fall 2012)

This course surveys major topics and theoretical contributions in the construction of political order, the choice of constitutional regimes and the sources of citizens’ compliance. The courses examines: the formation and development of the modern state; democracy; authoritarianism; revolution and political stability; legitimacy and compliance; nationalism; and macro theories of political change. With the explicit goal of exploring how research in comparative politics should be pursued in the future, each session assigns readings from both traditional macrohistorical and qualitative research and more recent analytical models.

Syllabus

 

Politics of Growth and Redistribution: Comparative Political Economy (Fall 2011)

This course is designed to survey and discuss the political and institutional factors underlying cross-national variation in economic performance. The course is structured around the following issues or questions: : (1) why do countries differ so much in their level of economic development?; (2) what determines different levels of public spending and politically enforced redistribution?; (3) in what ways does the international economy shape state autonomy and the size of welfare states?; and (4) what is the impact of elections, parties and domestic institutions on the management of the economy? The scope of the course is analytical in its theoretical perspective and comparative from a methodological point of view.

 

Syllabus

 

Introduction to Comparative Politics (Graduate Course)  (Fall 2007)

This course surveys major topics and theoretical contributions in the field of comparative politics. The courses examines: the formation and development of the modern state; democracy; authoritarianism; revolution and political stability; nationalism; voters and parties, constitutional arrangements and their effects and macro theories of political change. With the explicit goal of exploring how research in comparative politics should be pursued in the future, each session assigns readings from both traditional macrohistorical and qualitative research and more recent analytical models.

 Syllabus
 

 European Political Development (Graduate Course)    (Winter 2003)

This course surveys some of the existing major empirical debates and theoretical contributions on the formation and evolution of European political institutions. It addresses the following issues: the rise of the modern state; the formation of nations and contemporary nationalism; the emergence of democracies; the crisis of the interwar period; the creation of mass parties and union movements at the turn of the 20th century and their evolution in the postwar decades; and the origins and constitutional development of the European Union. The course has the goal of reading central historical research to formulate broad comparative theoretical insights about the topics at hand. Enrolment is limited to 15 students. Doctoral students will be
given priority.

Syllabus
 

UNDERGRADUATE COURSES

Democracy (Fall 2011)

This course introduces students to the following topics, among others: the institutional basis of economic development, democratic transitions and democratic consolidation, electoral representation and political accountability, policymaking in a democracy, the relationship between democracy and redistribution, welfare and democracy, and colonialism/globalism and democracy.

Here is a sample of the questions we will examine in the course: Why are there states? Under what conditions do countries become democratic? What is the role of civil society in democratic performance? What are the politics of democratic governance?  What are the limits of democratic control?  What is the role of political institutions in the formation of public policy?

We first explore why economic development has been elusive in most of the globe. After showing the limitations of purely economic models of growth, we consider how political institutions, social norms, the distribution of wealth and the inheritance of colonialism shape growth rates. This discussion of the political and institutional sources of growth also includes an analysis of the historical forces that shaped, in turn, those institutions.  Then we consider how democratic institutions function, paying particular attention to whose interests are represented and who governs.  We close the course by looking at he impact that democratic politics may have on the economy and the welfare of citizens. We examine the formation of welfare states across countries – here we pay special attention to differences in the internal structure of public spending between the United States and Europe. We finally discuss the extent to which policy-makers can develop autonomous policies in a globalized world.  

Syllabus

 

Comparative Political Economy (Undergraduate Course)    (Spring 2004)

What part does the state play in the economy? Why do different countries choose different economic strategies? Do these different economic policies affect the economy successfully? Can governments shape the economy according to their political preferences? Or are they constrained by any 'exogenous' forces? Finally, can they pursue economic policies which, satisfactory enough to their electorates, ensure their reelection?

This course attempts to address these questions. The first part of the course explores why economic development has been elusive in most of the globe. After showing the limitations of purely economic models of growth, it considers how political institutions, political regimes, societal interests, the distribution of assets and the inheritance of colonialism shape growth rates. The second part of the courses examines why and how the share of the state in the economy has risen steadily in the developed world. This parts pays special attention to differences in the internal structure of public spending between the United States and Europe and considers the consequences of the growth of the welfare state. The third part looks at the role which  political parties and the structure of labor markets may have on economic policy-making and on the cyclical evolution of unemployment and inflation. The course closes with an overview of the impact of globalization on the domestic economy.

Syllabus
 

Government and Politics of Western Europe (Undergraduate Course)    (Last time taught: Winter 1999)

An introduction to the comparative politics of Western European democracies. Its goal is to explore the structure of Western European party systems, the factors that explain voting patterns among European electorates, and the institutional framework (the electoral system, the role of parliament and
executives, the formation of governments)  of European democracies and the possible role of ‘civic culture’ in explaining successful democratic governance. 

Although the course pays special attention to the particular traits of several countries (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries),  it is explicitly designed to determine the set of systematic relationships that may exist between certain political and socioeconomic variables. Examples of these
relationship
are the following: Do electoral systems affect the number of parties in parliament? Do working- class voters vote for socialists parties? Does the number of parties in Parliament determine the stability of  governments and the economic performance of European countries? The whole sample of European nations is then used to answer these questions and to check the plausibility of the theoretical relationships developed  in the literature (some pointed references to the US system will be made).

Syllabus