POL S 544
Selected problems in the comparative analysis of political institutions, organizations, and systems.
Discourse theoretical approaches are among the most relevant and interesting innovations in the study of the politics of European integration. Going beyond the focus of classical theories of European integration on political elites, these approaches respond to the perception that multi-level governance in the EU relies on acts of justification through argumentative reason-giving, and that it can no longer be isolated from processes of public communication, contention, and debate through the media, within civil society and between political parties. Addressing these empirical questions, discourse theoretical approaches combine new and critical theoretical perspectives on European politics with innovative methodical approaches that widen our knowledge about the societal and party political dimension of politics in the EU and its Member States.
The class will review these approaches by combining the study of theory, methods, and empirical data. We will cover deliberative theories, the literature on framing, claims making analysis, the study of public discourse by political elites through the approach of discursive institutionalism, and critical discourse theory. In empirical terms, the class will cover empirical subjects related to the politics of the EU and its Member States, particularly the management of the Eurozone crisis, European foreign policy, and EU enlargement, and related debates and discourses in Member States such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Participants of the class will be asked to develop small research projects combining one of the theoretical approaches discussed in this class with the empirical investigation of primary data such as data sets on party positions and programmes, citizen attitudes, or public speeches and debates within the public or at the level of parliamentary debates.
Student learning goals
- Knowledge of discourse theoretical approaches to the study of politics
- Knowledge of methodical approaches to study discourse and public communication
- Understanding of some of the most salient recent public debates on European integration
- Knowledge about party politics in the EU and the Europeanization of national parliaments
General method of instruction
- Lectures with Q&A and discussion - In-class presentations with discussion - Work in small groups
- Some knowledge about the political systems of the EU and its Member States - Some knowledge of IR (or ideally EU) theory - Knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methods
Class assignments and grading
- Regular and active participation - In-class presentation - Development of a small research project in relation to the class topic - Term paper