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210151 SE M7: State Activity, Policy and Governance Analyses (2021W)

Current Debates in Political Behavior

9.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 21 - Politikwissenschaft
Continuous assessment of course work

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Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 50 participants
Language: English



MO 11.10.2021 11.30-14.45 Ort: Hörsaal 10 Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1 2.Stock;
DI 12.10.2021 08.00-11.15 Ort: Hörsaal 10 Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1 2.Stock;
MI 13.10.2021 11.30-14.45 Ort: Hörsaal 10 Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1 2.Stock;
DO 14.10.2021 08.00-11.15 Ort: Hörsaal 50 Hauptgebäude, 2.Stock, Stiege 8;
FR 15.10.2021 09.45-16.30 Ort: Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
MO 18.10.2021 11.30-14.45 Ort: Hörsaal 10 Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1 2.Stock;
MI 20.10.2021 09.45-13.00 Ort: Hörsaal 10 Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1 2.Stock;


Aims, contents and method of the course

The course will address some of the most significant phenomena that have characterized political behavior in postindustrial democracies in recent years, including, populism, protests, the rise of new parties, gender mobilization and backlash, and perceptions of threat. While these questions are approached and analyzed from a general and comparative perspective, much of the inspiration and examples come from Western Europe, and particularly from Spanish politics which serves as chronological and conceptual threat for the understanding of this varied mix of phenomena.

The course starts focusing on populism, one of the central topics in political behavior today, which has gained increasing attention since the victory of Brexit and Trump. We shall discuss different approaches to measuring populism, the role of different causes and triggers (economic anxiety, emotions, and internal efficacy), and some of its consequences for political participation.

The connection between populism and participation allows to introduce the analysis of political protest, particularly high in the Spanish context. While populism is often related to far-right, nationalism and authoritarianism, it can also take a left-wing orientation. Protest comes in waves and the most recent one has been starred by feminists around the #metoo. We explore different explanations for participation in such protests (including resources, motivations and mobilization), as well as some of its attitudinal and behavioral consequences.

Populist mobilization is also one of the elements behind the formation of new political parties. Fragmentation due to new parties is increasing in many countries and Spain again produces a wealth of examples. We will explore and compare how new parties are born, how citizens develop attachments with new parties, and their consequences for voting and preference formation.

One of the argued consequences of feminist mobilization is gender backlash, which we will explore at the individual level by looking specifically at attitudes of sexism. We will distinguish types of sexism, examine its changes along time in relation to women’s mobilization, and the extent to which it conditions vote choice in particular for far-right parties.

No account of current debates in political behavior would be complete without mentioning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We explore this question framing it into the broader category of threats. We examine the problematic conceptualization of threat as an attitude, its types and dimensions, as well as some of its political consequences.

Assessment and permitted materials

Each session will involve a presentation lead by the professor followed by a discussion of the topic and the assigned readings. This is a Master level course which involves active reading and participation. All students are expected to have done the required readings before each seminar and come to class with a willingness to critically discuss them. Five sessions will be devoted to the five topics that structure the syllabus, while the last three sessions will involve students’ presentation of (some of) their research papers. The course is concentrated in two weeks, so it will require some effort in terms of readings and assignments.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Grading will be based on the following elements:

Active in-class participation (30%): Students must be present in at least 6 of the 8 sessions. You are expected to have read the course materials carefully, and to actively participate in class. You may be asked to introduce the readings for the discussion and to present your research paper. You are expected to take part in the discussions of the readings and research papers. Although the seminar will be held in English, your language proficiency will not be assessed, so please don’t let your language skills hamper your class participation.

Reading memos (20%) are short (max 1 page) responses to the session’s readings (not a summary, but some related idea to discuss, to clarify, some analysis of common or divergent elements in the readings). Each student should submit reading memos for at least 2 of the 5 topics. You can use the reading memos to inspire or structure in-class participation and your research paper. Below, following the title of each session there are some suggested questions for the reading memos. Please, feel entirely free to address any other question inspired by the readings that is of interest to you in your reading memos. Reading memos will be submitted no later than the day scheduled for the corresponding reading.

Research paper (50%) Each student must submit a research paper consisting of an original idea related to one of the topics of the course. The paper (4,000 words including references, figures, notes, etc.) will include the research question, the motivation, the relation with existing debates in the literature, the argument, and the methods and data to be eventually used. This paper will be presented and discussed in the class. We will see the details of the presentation depending on the final number of students enrolled in class. Research papers will be submitted no later than the 18th of October.

Examination topics

Reading list

1. Populism (12 October)
Is populism a useful concept to understand current democratic politics? What is the added value of analyzing populism as an individual-level property? Which are the potential mechanisms through which social media may contribute to enhancing populist attitudes?

Required reading
Akkerman, Agnes, Cas Mudde, and Andrej Zaslove. 2014. “How Populist Are the People? Measuring Populist Attitudes in Voters.” Comparative Political Studies 49(9): 1324–53.
Mudde, Cas, and Cristóbal Rovira-Kaltwasser. 2018. “Studying Populism in Comparative Perspective: Reflections on the Contemporary and Future Research Agenda.” Comparative Political Studies: 001041401878949.
Rooduijn, Matthijs. 2017. “What Unites the Voter Bases of Populist Parties? Comparing the Electorates of 15 Populist Parties.” European Political Science Review: 1–18.

Optional reading
Anduiza, E., M. Guinjoan, and G. Rico. 2019. “Populism, Participation, and Political Equality.” European Political Science Review 11(1).
Anspach, Nicolas M., Jay T. Jennings, and Kevin Arceneaux. 2019. “A Little Bit of Knowledge: Facebook’s News Feed and Self-Perceptions of Knowledge.” Research & Politics 6(1)
Rico, Guillem, Marc Guinjoan, and Eva Anduiza. 2017. “The Emotional Underpinnings of Populism: How Anger and Fear Affect Populist Attitudes.” Swiss Political Science Review 23(4): 444–61.

2. Protests (13 October)
Have social media changed protests and protesters? Are women’s protests different from other protests and in what way? What is the relationship between contentious politics and electoral politics?

Required reading
Bremer, Björn, Swen Hutter, and Hanspeter Kriesi. 2020. “Dynamics of Protest and Electoral Politics in the Great Recession.” European Journal of Political Research 59(4): 842–66.
Mckane, Rachel G, and Holly J Mccammon. 2018. “Why We March: The Role of Grievances, Threats, and Movement Organizational Resources in the 2017 Women’s Marches.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 23(4).
Torcal, Mariano, Toni Rodon, and María José Hierro. 2015. “Word on the Street: The Persistence of Leftist-Dominated Protest in Europe.” West European Politics.

Optional reading
Anduiza, Eva and Monza, Sabina (forthcoming). Bodies in the streets. 8M Feminist protests in Spain, The Routledge Companion to XXth and XXIst Century Spain: Ideas, Practices, Imaginings
Anduiza, Eva, Camilo Cristancho, and José M. Sabucedo. “Mobilization through Online Social Networks: The Political Protest of the Indignados in Spain.” Information, Communication & Society
Baldez, Lisa. 2003. ‘Women’s Movements and Democratic Transition in Chile, Brazil, East Germany, and Poland’. Comparative Politics 35(3): 253–72.

3. Fragmentation and new parties (14 October)
What is “new” and why does it happen? Does partisanship with new parties work just as partisanship with old parties? How would you predict which new parties are to survive? What implications have the rise of new parties for old parties?

Required reading
De Vries, Catherine, and Sara B. Hobolt. 2020. Political Entrepreneurs: The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe. Princeton University Press. Chapter 1.
Emanuele, Vincenzo, and Alessandro Chiaramonte. 2019. “Explaining the Impact of New Parties in the Western European Party Systems.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties.
Orriols, Lluis, and Guillermo Cordero. 2016. “The Breakdown of the Spanish Two-Party System: The Upsurge of Podemos and Ciudadanos in the 2015 General Election.” South European Society and Politics 21(4): 469–92.

Required reading
Green, Donald, Bradley Palmquist, and Eric Schickler. 2002. Partisan Hearts and Minds. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Bolleyer, Nicole. 2013. New Parties in Old Party Systems : Persistence and Decline in Seventeen Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

4. Gender: mobilization and backlash (15 October)
Which type of sexism should be more politically relevant and why? Are we becoming more or less sexist? Can we trace a

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Last modified: Mo 18.10.2021 14:08