• This course aims to introduce the students to social science discourse analysis, i.e. to a family of approaches that emphasise the constructed nature of politics and the importance of struggles over interpretive and definitory hegemony for political processes and for the definition of political “realities”. Such approaches have become popular in various fields of political science, including policy studies, social movement research, international relations, organisational studies, etc. They allow to raise research questions that ask how worldviews are constructed, how discourses emerge and change, and how they influence political processes.
    The course looks at various issues of discourse theory and practice, including: conceptual and epistemological issues, different uses of discourse analysis (for the analysis of constructions of meaning, including frames, and emergent discourses) and various strands of DA. In this process, we also look briefly into a more conventional strand of analysing discourse, e.g. the analysis of "ideas".
    By the end of the course, the participants should have gained an understanding of the importance of language in politics and of discourse analysis as a conceptual and methodological approach. Through practical work in- and outside of the classroom, they should also have acquired a set of practical skills enabling them to use discourse analysis for their own purposes, and to find their way through the vast literature in discourse theory and analysis.

  • This is an advanced methodological course on set-theoretic methods for the social sciences. While the spectrum of a set-theoretic methods is broad, including techniques such as Mill's methods or typological theory, this course primarily focusses on the crisp-set and fuzzy-set versions of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). Invented by Charles Ragin (1987), this technique has undergone various modifications, improvements, and ramifications (Ragin 2000, 2008). It currently receives increasing interest (and scepticism) in the broader social scientific community, both from its more qualitative and its more quantitative side. These methods are applied in fields as diverse as political science, sociology, business studies, or even musicology (see www.compasss.org). This course aims at enabling students to produce a publishable QCA of their own. In order to achieve this, this course provides both the formal set theoretical underpinnings of QCA and the technical and research practical skills necessary for performing a QCA.

    The course is structured as follows. We start with some basics of formal logic and set theory. Then we introduce the notions of sets and how they are calibrated. After this, we move on to the concepts of causal complexity and of necessity and sufficiency, show how the latter denote subset relations, and then learn how such subset relations can be analyzed with so-called truth tables. All concepts and analytic steps are first introduced based on crisp sets and then it is shown how they apply to fuzzy sets. Once students master the current standard analysis practice, we discuss several extensions and possible improvements of QCA. Depending on the needs and interests of participants, we choose several topics from the following list: skewed set membership scores; an enhanced strategy of treating so-called logical remainders; principles of post-QCA case selection strategies for within-case analyses; the integration of time into QCA; theory-testing in set-theoretic methods; and multi-value QCA.

    Throughout the course, we frequently use the computer and enhance our practical QCA skills by performing hands-on analyses. Students can choose between using either the fsQCA software package or R, with packages QCA and SetMethod. A desired (and very likely) side effect of this course will be that we engage into discussions on more general methodological issues of good comparative research, such as principles and practices of case selection, concept formation, measurement validity, and forms of causal relations.


    WINTER TERM AY 2013/14

    M/W 11-12.40

    Course provider: Xymena Kurowska, PhD



    The field of security studies has become one of the most dynamic and contested areas in international relations, which gave rise to versatile research agendas. This has developed vis-à-vis the traditionally conservative strategic studies that seek revival in the post 9/11 era. The course is an in-depth survey of contemporary theoretical debates in the discipline and aims at developing analytical skills necessary for identifying and critically assessing existing arguments and their analytical purchase. It includes extensive work on different approaches to conceptualising security, from the established definition as a freedom from threat via the notion of its constructed and thus essentially contested nature, to security as practice. It further discusses the rethinking of security as technologies of social order within debates on governing through risk and biopolitics of security. It also revisits foundational concepts in the field, such as security dilemma and security community, and engages the contributions of what have been labelled as different schools of security studies (Welsh, Copenhagen, and Paris).

  • Over the last four decades, the world has witnessed the transition of political regimes from different forms of autocracy to various new types of political regimes. The current situation provides ground for disparate, and sometimes outright contradictory, diagnoses about the present state of democracy around the globe and its future development. Clear non-democracies like China show economic growth rates that are overwhelming both in size and duration and rulers in places like Russia and elsewhere have devised sophisticated measures to secure their power and order that turn their political system into hybrid regimes. At the same time, popular uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa have brought down long-standing dictators and citizens seek not only social justice and economic growth but also political democracy.

    This course is designed to give a broad overview of the literature on the processes of political regime transition in the late 20th and early 21st century. The aim is to provide students with the anaytic tools, theories, and concepts that enable them to make better sense of the current political processes in countries around the globe. The list of concepts discussed is comprised of, among others, types of transitions, hybrid regimes, the consolidation, and the qualities of democracy. The topic of this course will be dealt with from a global perspective. We will thus attempt to capture cases and evidence from different world regions. More generally, we will approach the topic of regime changes from the empirical-analytic research tradition.

  • The course will discuss current
    approaches to the normative significance and requirements of political
    equality. Almost everyone today accepts at a minimum that political equality
    requires granting each sane adult person one vote in elections that select some
    set of political decision-makers, as well as the right of all to run for public
    office. However, there is disagreement about the basis of this requirement, as
    well as about whether the ideal of political equality also calls for further,
    more demanding requirements. Instrumentalist approaches argue that political
    equality is valuable mostly because it is the political arrangement that, among
    the available alternatives, most reliably promotes more fundamental ideals such
    as individual rights and substantive justice. Others argue that political
    equality has intrinsic justificatory force that is independent of the tendency
    of political arrangements that embody it to generate correct outcomes. There is
    also disagreement about which sources of inequality of political influence are
    compatible with political equality: to what extent is it permissible for
    differential wealth, talent or ambition to lead to unequal influence? In
    addition to these fundamental theoretical issues, the course also covers some
    more specific problems such as the following: can nondemocratic arrangements
    satisfy the requirements of political equality? Is it wrong to allocate
    political influence in accordance with political competence? What is wrong, if
    anything, with selling and buying votes?




    office: FT 305


    Political ethnography is an interdisciplinary research strategy based on the immersion of the researcher in the subject matter and reasoning from within social practice to generate contextual knowledge claims. The seminar accordingly focuses on the study of politics ‘from below’ and ‘from within’ to make sense of power relations in particular political settings. It addresses research questions that require an investigation into the meanings of specific political practices, concepts and processes to situational actors in order to illuminate wider-ranging or more theoretical issues of political concern.

    While the course does not elaborate on the philosophical underpinnings of interdisciplinary research, it operates at the conceptual level which presupposes familiarity with different research traditions. It discusses at length the principles of interpretive research however and as such engages texts from across social sciences and social theory. The seminar is open to all researchers interested in the study of politics, but it is particularly suitable for those that intend to conduct fieldwork that requires some degree of ‘ethnographic sensibility’, including different modes of in-situ interviewing (e.g. conversational interviewing, ordinary language interviewing), different degrees of participant observation, and the reconstruction of policy meanings.

    The seminar is reading intensive and requires considerable engagement from the participants.

  • This doctoral seminar build on MA courses in comparative politics, political economy and political theory. Its first part concentrates on classic questions in political sociology focusing on political power, state formation, theories of the state, revolutions, political and economic elites. The second part discusses some crucial questions of comparative political economy focusing on development, on the relationship between political and economic systems, and between state and market institutions and on the varieties of capitalism