• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
Master 2020/2021

Modern Political Science

Type: Compulsory course (Russian Studies)
Area of studies: Political Science
When: 1 year, 2, 3 module
Mode of studies: offline
Master’s programme: Российские исследования
Language: English
ECTS credits: 5

Course Syllabus


Many of the questions that political scientists study are timeless. Who votes for whom, how and why? How do politicians compete for political support and maintain themselves in power? How does the organization of the state shape incentives for investment, corruption, and for policies that promote (or retard) inequality? The answers to these questions are central both to our understanding of real world outcomes - economic growth, poverty, inequality - and to promoting policies to shape them. Despite their obvious importance, however, few of these questions have clear cut answers. As with any science, new findings are constantly released that challenge our understanding of older findings or expand it in new an important ways.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • This course seeks to provide a broad overview of the current state of the literature in several key areas of contemporary Political Science. By the end of the course, students should both understand the state of the art in the discipline, and how this recent work fits into the grand arc of research in Political Science.
  • The course also seeks to provide students with a better understanding of modern methodological tools and research design, as well as how to apply them to developing and critiquing a research agenda. The course places particular emphasis on the potential pitfalls of causal analysis, how to spot them in the works of others, and how to attempt to overcome them in one's own work. By the end of the course, students should have the necessary tools to constructively critique the work of others, as well as an understanding of how to use these tools to design cutting edge research of their own.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • By the end of the course, students should both understand the state of the art in the discipline, and how this recent work fits into the grand arc of research in Political Science.
  • Students should also have the necessary tools to constructively critique the work of others, as well as an understanding of how to use these tools to design cutting edge research of their own.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Causal Inference and the Scientific Enterprise
    These two lectures will briefly discuss the history of political research and outline the main areas in which modern political science differs from older traditions of studying politics. We will then discuss the basic problem of causal inference that animates much of contemporary work and is necessary for properly constructing research designs. We will end with a discussion of how to read and critique political research from a scientific perspective.
  • Vote Choice and Responsibility
    This lecture will introduce the basic concepts and arguments behind contemporary literature on vote choice. After introducing the basic voting model and its assumptions, we will turn to a recent challenge to it: attribution of responsibility for policies and outcomes. We will discuss recent work highlighting the various challenges to the ability of voters to assign responsibility (or not) to politicians, as well as the implications of these challenges for accountability.
  • Economic Voting and Clientalism
    This lecture will build on the previous one by focusing on material explanations for voting. We will begin by discussing the differences between sociotropic and egotropic theories of voting behavior. We will then discuss distributive and clientalistic programs of delivering benefits to voters, how to distinguish them, and how they fit into strategies of generating voter support.
  • Non-Economic Voting and Ideology
    This lecture will build on the basic voter model by discussing non-economic factors that shape vote choice. The lecture will particularly focus on recent advances on the causes and consequences of political polarization for individual vote choice. It will also touch on the role of social networks and socialization in electoral behavior.
  • Democratic Parties and Representation
    This lecture will discuss the purposes behind parties in democratic systems and the various typologies often used to classify them for research purposes. We will then discuss how parties link politicians to voters and how they aggregate the preferences of voters. The lecture will frame these questions around a discussion of contemporary research on populist parties, focusing primarily on how they fit into existing party classifications and their relationship to their voters.
  • Electoral Rules and their Origins
    This lecture presents basic concepts from modern work on electoral systems and introduces the major classification schemes used. It will then present the basic competing arguments that animate recent debates behind the adoption of electoral rules (in both democracies and electoral autocracies).
  • Autocracies
    This lecture will focus on the problem of differentiating autocratic and democratic regimes. It will then introduce major theories of democratization (i.e. autocratic collapse) and discuss contemporary arguments about the survival strategies regimes use to stabilize their rule and maintain power. It will conclude by discussing the implications of broad regime types for economic and social outcomes, as well as recent empirical evidence.
  • Autocratic Institutions and Policymaking
    This lecture will briefly overview contemporary debates on variation in authoritarian institutions, which ones matter for economic and political outcomes, and how they function. We will then discuss the twin phenomenon of authoritarian parties and elections under autocracies, with a focus on how recent advances in the literature help us to understand how and when they shape the incentives of regime officials, policymaking, and regime survival.
  • Identity Politics
    This lecture will introduce the basic concepts and theories that animate contemporary research on the nature of identity and how it shapes political outcomes. We will discuss how these theories are applied to contemporary research on using examples from debates on how identities emerge, how they change, and their influence on political preferences.
  • The Politics of Reform
    This lecture will begin by introducing classical models of popular demand for both political and economic reform. We will then discuss recent advances in our understanding of how and when politicians will actually supply reforms to meet this demand, as well as how politicians' incentives shape both the timing of reform and the extent of it. We will end by discussing the implications of reform for subsequent political behavior.
  • Protests and Collective Action
    This lecture will define collective action and lay out the major forms of coordination failures that make it difficult groups to act together. It will then discuss the different forms of collective action relevant to the literature on contentious politics (including protests). The lecture will conclude by discussing how contemporary debates about the role of popular versus elite mobilization in protests help inform our understanding of when collective action takes place.
  • Institutions, Investment, and Property Rights
    This lecture will lay out the core problems and calculus that animate investment decisions by firms and individuals. It then discusses how institutions -- human constraints on human interaction -- introduce a fundamentally political element to this calculus. The session ends with a discussion of how recent work has attempted to untangle the relationship between institutions and the economy using novel research designs, as well as contemporary research on how firms and individuals cope with poor institutions.
  • Corruption and Governance
    This lecture defines corruption, discusses the major ways in which contemporary work operationalizes the concept, and discusses the trade-offs in popular measures. It then briefly discusses the origins of corruption and conditions which appear to foster it. The session concludes by discussing contemporary work on the effects of corruption on real economies and the ways in which it can distort or enhance outcomes.
  • Civil War and Violence
    This lecture will define civil war and discuss historical trends in the geography and timing of their onset. It then presents the major theories of civil war onset and provides some examples of modern research that attempts to test these theories against each other. It concludes with an exploration of modern advances in our understanding of who fights in civil wars.
  • The Welfare State and Inequality
    This lecture will introduce the concept of the welfare state and its implications for politics. We will begin by defining the welfare state and discuss classic models of demand for social policy (by both individuals and businesses). We will then discuss how these models help us to understand the origins of the welfare state (i.e. supply). The lecture will conclude by discussing recent advances in the literature on the relationship between inequality, the structure of economies, and the welfare state.
  • Student Selected Topic
    The final lecture will bring together the concepts and topics introduced in the course and briefly discuss how they inform and overlap each other. The remainder of the lecture will be used for an elective topic will be chosen by the students after the first exam. This topic will cover an important theme that relates to the research interests of the majority of students, but which they do not feel was adequately covered elsewhere in the course plan. These can include (but are not limited to) topics such as US domestic politics, the politics of disaster response, international relations, individual economic preferences, education in politics, gender politics, technology and politics, etc. Students are also welcome to propose . Voting for this topic will take place between modules 2 and 3.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Take-Home Midterm Assessment
  • non-blocking Final Exam
  • non-blocking Group Summary Presentation
  • non-blocking 2 Critique Presentations and Written Report
  • non-blocking Research Proposal
  • non-blocking Participation
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.3 * 2 Critique Presentations and Written Report + 0.2 * Final Exam + 0.05 * Group Summary Presentation + 0.1 * Participation + 0.2 * Research Proposal + 0.15 * Take-Home Midterm Assessment


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Alan S. Gerber, Donald P. Green, & Edward H. Kaplan. (2004). The Illusion of Learning From Observational Research. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.310980E1
  • Boas, T. C., Richardson, N. P., & Hidalgo, F. D. (2014). The Spoils of Victory: Campaign Donations and Government Contracts in Brazil. https://doi.org/10.1017/S002238161300145X
  • Bonneau, C., & Cann, D. (2015). Party Identification and Vote Choice in Partisan and Nonpartisan Elections. Political Behavior, 37(1), 43–66. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-013-9260-2
  • Busemeyer, M. R. (2014). Skills and Inequality : Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=838784
  • Daniel Treisman. (2011). Presidential Popularity in a Hybrid Regime: Russia under Yeltsin and Putin. American Journal of Political Science, (3), 590. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00500.x
  • Ferraz, C., & Finan, F. (2008). Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil’s Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.E930B5F7
  • Gans-Morse, J. (2017). Demand for Law and the Security of Property Rights: The Case of Post-Soviet Russia. American Political Science Review, (02), 338. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v111y2017i02p338.359.00
  • Gehlbach, S., & Keefer, P. (2012). Private Investment and the Institutionalization of Collective Action in Autocracies: Ruling Parties and Legislatures. Journal of Politics, 74(2), 621–635. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022381611001952
  • John Mcmillan, & Pablo Zoido. (2004). How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru. Journal of Economic Perspectives, (4), 69. https://doi.org/10.1257/0895330042632690
  • Kreuzer, M. (2010). Historical Knowledge and Quantitative Analysis: The Case of the Origins of Proportional Representation. American Political Science Review, (02), 369. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v104y2010i02p369.392.00
  • Leemann, L., & Mares, I. (2014). The Adoption of Proportional Representation. Journal of Politics, 76(2), 461–478. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022381613001394
  • McDoom, O. S. (2012). The Psychology of Threat in Intergroup Conflict. International Security, 37(2), 119–155. https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00100
  • Noam Lupu. (2013). Party Brands and Partisanship: Theory with Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Argentina. American Journal of Political Science, (1), 49. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2012.00615.x
  • Posner, D. N. (2004). The political salience of cultural difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas are allies in Zambia and adversaries in Malawi. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.CEAEF5DB
  • Rebecca Weitz‐Shapiro. (2012). What Wins Votes: Why Some Politicians Opt Out of Clientelism. American Journal of Political Science, (3), 568. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00578.x
  • Reuter, O. J. (2017). The Origins of Dominant Parties : Building Authoritarian Institutions in Post-Soviet Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1491929
  • Reuter, O. J., & Robertson, G. B. (2015). Legislatures, Cooptation, and Social Protest in Contemporary Authoritarian Regimes. Journal of Politics, 77(1), 235–248. https://doi.org/10.1086/678390
  • Reuter, O. J., & Szakonyi, D. (2019). Elite Defection under Autocracy: Evidence from Russia. American Political Science Review, (02), 552. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v113y2019i02p552.568.00
  • Robertson, G. B. (2011). The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes : Managing Dissent in Post-Communist Russia. New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=344606
  • Stanley L. Engerman, & Kenneth L. Sokoloff. (2005). Colonialism, Inequality, and Long-Run Paths of Development. NBER Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.nbr.nberwo.11057
  • Weller, N., & Barnes, J. (2014). Pathway Analysis and the Search for Causal Mechanisms. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.6CCB83D6

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Andy Baker, Barry Ames, & Lucio R. Renno. (2006). Social Context and Campaign Volatility in New Democracies: Networks and Neighborhoods in Brazil’s 2002 Elections. American Journal of Political Science, (2), 382. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2006.00190.x
  • Banerjee, A., & Duflo, E. (2008). The Experimental Approach to Development Economics. CEPR Discussion Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.cpr.ceprdp.7037
  • Banerjee, A., Duflo, E., Imbert, C., Mathew, S., & Pande, R. (2019). E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs : Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India. The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.wrk.warwec.1224
  • Bates, R. H., Coatsworth, J. H., & Williamson, J. G. (2007). Lost Decades: Postindependence Performance in Latin America and Africa. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022050707000447
  • Cederman, L.-E., & Girardin, L. (2007). Beyond Fractionalization: Mapping Ethnicity onto Nationalist Insurgencies. American Political Science Review, (01), 173. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v101y2007i01p173.185.07
  • Coppock, A., & Green, D. P. (2015). Assessing the Correspondence between Experimental Results Obtained in the Lab and Field: A Review of Recent Social Science Research. Political Science Research and Methods, (01), 113. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.pscirm.v3y2015i01p113.131.00
  • Cusack, T. R., Iversen, T., & Soskice, D. (2007). Economic Interests and the Origins of Electoral Systems. American Political Science Review, (03), 373. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v101y2007i03p373.391.07
  • Cusack, T., Iversen, T., & Soskice, D. (2010). Coevolution of Capitalism and Political Representation: The Choice of Electoral Systems. American Political Science Review, (02), 393. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v104y2010i02p393.403.00
  • Decentralization and the development of nationalized party systems in new democracies: evidence from Latin America. (2010). Comparative Political Studies, 43(5), 606–627. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414008330285
  • Ernesto CALVO, & María Victoria MURILLO. (2014). When parties meet voters: assessing political linkages through partisan networks and distributive expectations in Argentina and Chile. América Latina Hoy, (0), 15. https://doi.org/10.14201/alh2013651544
  • Frye, T. M., & Iwasaki, I. (2011). Government directors and business–state relations in Russia. European Journal of Political Economy, (4), 642. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.poleco.v27y2011i4p642.658
  • Gehlbach, S., & Keefer, P. (2011). Investment without democracy: Ruling-party institutionalization and credible commitment in autocracies. Journal of Comparative Economics, (2), 123. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.jcecon.v39y2011i2p123.139
  • Joshua A. Tucker. (n.d.). Articles Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and Post-Communist Colored Revolutions. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.B8E73856
  • Macartan Humphreys, & Jeremy M. Weinstein. (2008). Who Fights? The Determinants of Participation in Civil War. American Journal of Political Science, (2), 436. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00322.x
  • Margalit, Y. (2013). Explaining Social Policy Preferences: Evidence from the Great Recession. American Political Science Review, (01), 80. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v107y2013i01p80.103.00
  • Margarita Estevez-abe, Torben Iversen, & David Soskice. (2001). Social Protection and the Formation of Skills: A Reinterpretation of the Welfare State. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.CF23C076
  • Paul Pierson. (2002). Coping with permanent austerity : welfare state restructuring in affluent democracies. Revue Française de Sociologie, (2), 369. https://doi.org/10.2307/3322510
  • Philip A Schrodt. (2014). Seven deadly sins of contemporary quantitative political analysis. Journal of Peace Research, (2), 287. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.sae.joupea.v51y2014i2p287.300
  • Reuter, O. J., & Gandhi, J. (2011). Economic Performance and Elite Defection from Hegemonic Parties. British Journal of Political Science, (01), 83. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.bjposi.v41y2011i01p83.110.00
  • Seawright, J., & Gerring, J. (2008). Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Quantitative Options. Political Research Quarterly, 61(2), 294–308. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912907313077
  • Szakonyi, D. (2018). Businesspeople in Elected Office: Identifying Private Benefits from Firm-Level Returns. American Political Science Review, (02), 322. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v112y2018i02p322.338.00
  • Timothy Besley, & Torsten Persson. (2009). The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics. American Economic Review, (4), 1218. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.99.4.1218
  • Timothy Frye, John Reuter, & David Szakonyi. (2012). Political Machines at Work: Voter Mobilization and Electoral Subversion in the Workplace. HSE Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.hig.wpaper.08.ps.2012