Current Semester

Political Impacts of Information Technology

Prof. Dr. Nils B. Weidmann

Thursdays 10:00 - 11:30, D301

The digital age is fundamentally transforming our society. This course examines the political effects of information- and communication technology (ICT), with a particular focus on political mobilization in non-democratic countries. We start with an introduction to the technology behind cellphone and Internet communications, in order to develop a basic understanding of how they work. Next, we discuss different ways in which this technology affects political mobilization. Last, we give particular attention to empirical tests that can (or cannot) let us gauge these hypothesized effects. The course requires a good background in research design and quantitative methods. 


Eda Keremoglu-Waibler

Tuesdays, 13:30 - 15:00, C424

The “Arab uprisings” have not only sparked initial expectations of a possible fourth wave of democratization, but also renewed scholarly interest in the conditions of democratic transition and consolidation. This course provides a systematic overview of contemporary democratization research and engages with the domestic and international dimensions of regime transitions. The course will cover theoretical explanations as well as empirical studies of democratic change on a global scale.

In an introductory step, the course addresses issues of conceptualizing and measuring democracy: What are the key defining features of democracies, which elements are contested (and why), and how can “hybrid” regimes be conceptualized? The core of the course focuses on the drivers of and obstacles to democratic development: How do political, economic, social, and cultural factors relate to regime change, what role can (non-state) actors and the media play, and (how) do international factors enhance democratization?

Prerequisites: The course engages with theoretical and empirical democratization research. Students should therefore have a good understanding of analytical research design and quantitative statistical methods.

The Resilience of Authoritarian Regimes

Eda Keremoglu-Waibler

Tuesdays, 17:00 - 18:30, C422

„[…] dictatorships are by far the most understudied area in comparative politics. We need to start thinking about it” (Przeworski 2003). The resilient number and variety of non-democratic regimes has led to a resurgence of theoretical approaches and empirical studies that revolve around authoritarian politics.

The first part of the course focuses on conceptual questions: What is an authoritarian regime, how does it differ from a democratic one, and what types of autocracies can be distinguished? In a second step, the seminar engages with the (empirical) strand of research that focuses on authoritarian survival. How do political institutions enhance regime duration, how do they contain opposition both from elites and society, and to what ends and in which ways do autocrats share and constrain their political power? How do other factors, such as repressive means, policy performance, and cultural factors, relate to authoritarian survival?

Prerequisites: The course focuses on the contemporary literature on authoritarian politics and engages with quantitative empirical studies. Students should therefore have a good understanding of analytical research design and quantitative statistical methods.