The Political Economy of Regime Change

Course Description: 

Over the last four decades, the world has witnessed the transition of political and economic regimes - from autocracies to democracies and various types of political regimes in between, and from closed to open market economies and back. The current situation provides ground for disparate, and sometimes outright contradictory, diagnoses about the present state of democracy around the globe, its future development, and the interaction between economic and political processes. Clear non-democracies like China show economic growth rates that are overwhelming both in size and duration, while rulers in Russia and elsewhere could profit from a resource boom that has enabled them to devise sophisticated measures to secure their power and 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 set in motion counter-reactions that have led in most of the cases to the reinstatement of some form of repressive authoritarian regime. Meanwhile, democracy is in crisis even in its heartland in the North-Western hemisphere, not least due to profound economic transformations and changes.

This course is designed to give a broad overview of the literature on the processes of economic and political regime change and their interaction in the early and late 20th and early 21st century. There are four main parts: I. Core concepts and theories; II. Historical Perspectives; III. Contemporary Issues; IV Student presentations. The aim is to provide students with the analytic tools, theories, and concepts that enable them to make better sense of the current economic and political processes in countries around the globe, with a special emphasis on the link between economic and political changes. The list of concepts discussed is comprised of, among others, types of transitions, political regime types, the consolidation, and the qualities of democracy, and forms of economic systems. 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. 

Learning Outcomes: 

The overall grade will primarily indicate the ability of the students to handle the core concepts and questions in the literature on political regime changes with special focus on political economy. The learning outcomes of the PhD program are supported and measured by the present course in the following ways: The ability to critically assess scholarly arguments, which are based on empirical research; to write an academic paper using an appropriate scholarly tone. The skill of formulating researchable questions is primarily measured by the second, bigger, presentation. The ability to orally present an academic argument is assessed through the two in-class presentations and the in-class participation. The skills to analyze contemporary events related to political regime change and to employ cutting-edge methods are reflected by the bigger presentation. Students will also be exposed to, and expect to critically reflect on, general issues in doing comparative social research, such as concept formation (i.e. how to define, conceptualize, and measure the phenomenon under study) and different strategies of drawing inference from observational data.