It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the study of institutions forms the core of political science. The principal aim of the course is to familiarize students with cutting-edge research on the development and the consequences of political institutions. The course is divided into two parts, each with its own instructor.
In the first part, prof. Bogaards introduces students to the new institutionalism in political science. Each session has a mix of theoretical reading and empirical analysis. This part of the course has two objectives. First, to introduce students to the main types of institutional theory in combination with selected empirical applications. Second, to familiarize students with the various processes that strengthen and transform institutions.
In the second part, prof. Miklosi discusses political institutions from the perspective of normative political theory. Political institutions make rules that they claim to be binding for all persons within their jurisdiction, and they use coercion to enforce those rules. This feature of political institutions calls for special justification: by what moral right does the state makes binding rules and forces us to obey? Do citizens have a moral duty to obey the law? This part of the course will examine the various dimensions of the normative evaluation of political institutions, raising issues in democratic theory and the theory of justice.