Democracy and Populisms

Course University Bologna

Learning outcomes

The course offers an introduction to the concepts and analytical instruments of political sociology to study democracy. Key concepts in the analysis include legitimacy, political culture, the public sphere, and the interaction between politics and society. Particular attention will be paid to the phenomenon of populism e its various forms of manifestation, in a context of the transformation of modern democracy. The students will be engaged in the development of the following skills: – knowledge of the sociological approach to democracy (classical theory/contemporary theory); – the understanding of the role of conflict in democratic society; – the understanding of the role of civil society in democracy; – analytical capacities to comprehend the transformation of modern democracy; –  the in-depth understanding of diverse manifestations of populism; – the understanding of challenges and opportunities that derive from the populist phenomenon. 

Course contents

Modern democracy faces a series of important challenges, and is often seen as in deep crisis. A sociological analysis is fundamental in order to understand contemporary challenges, because it puts in relief the complex relationship between politics and society, and underlines the historical and conflictual nature of modern democracy. The course will discuss various theories and related concepts that will facilitate the comprehensive sociological  analysis of the democratic predicament. In addition, a discussion of the more important challenges of our times, including populism, postnational integration, processes of depoliticization and juridification, and the challenges of global capitalism will be discussed.