This module studies a variety of developments that potentially challenge contemporary democracies, including the declining ability of the electoral process, political parties and welfare states to appeal to citizens, and the rise of alternative types of political protest in response. The aim of the course is to provide students with an up-to-date survey of comparative research into these developments, and to enable students to use the comparative method to conduct their own inquiries within this area. Questions to be studied include:
- Do parties still play a role in democracy?
- Why is support for far-right parties rising?
- Has left-wing politics become redundant?
- Is the welfare state in terminal decline?
- Can representative democracy survive the rise of `post-materialist' values?
- Why is political protest increasing? What effect does it have?
- What role do social movements play in contemporary democracy?
- What impact has the global economic crisis had upon contemporary democracy?