Spring Semester 1999

Dr. William M. Downs



The principal aim of this course is to achieve an advanced understanding of major theoretical, empirical, and substantive issues in contemporary European political systems. A comparative methodological approach will encourage critical thinking about key trends and controversies, and it will enable students to assess the performance of individual political systems in relation to broader patterns in both Europe and North America. Readings will introduce a variety of approaches and methods employed in comparative political analysis. Among the topics covered by readings and discussions will be the following:

Regarding the last item in this list, the course provides analysis of the political and economic rationales for the European Union, evidence on the development of trade and growth in the EU, details of the Single Market program, analysis of convergence and disparities within the EU and prospects for EU enlargement by integration of Central European economies. Focus will be on integration theory and measurement and analysis of EU policy making illustrated with current issues such as Economic and Monetary Union and employment.

Urwin, Derek W. 1997. A Political History of Western Europe Since 1945, 5th edition. London: Longman.

Laver, Michael and Norman Schofield. 1990. Multiparty Government: The Politics of Coalition in Europe. New York: Oxford University Press.

Taylor, Paul. 1996. The European Union in the 1990s. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Anderson, Christopher. 1995. Blaming the Government: Citizens and the Economy in Five European Democracies. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.

Burgess, Michael and Alain-G. Gagnon, eds. 1993. Comparative Federalism and Federation: Competing Traditions and Future Directions. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Feigenbaum, Harvey B. and Jeffrey R. Henig. 1998. Shrinking the State: The Political Underpinnings of Privatization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Notes on Articles and Chapters: Additional readings will come from select journal articles and book chapters, which will be made available to you. Unless otherwise indicated, all required journal articles and book chapters are on reserve at Library South. Moreover, we may decide to distribute a copy of the following week's reading at each seminar session--allowing those who wish to then arrive at their own system for copying and circulation. Those for whom neither of the above systems works may be able to check materials out for 2-hour periods from the file holder on my office door.


Review Papers: Students will write two discussion papers (each approximately 1250 words in length) during the course of the semester.

Essay 1 (peer reviewed essay): You will write an essay on an assigned question/topic arising from the material being discussed for that particular week. The review essay will challenge you to focus on a single or a series of theoretical or methodological questions or criticisms. This essay will then be reviewed (one-page, typed reviews) by two of your colleagues. These will then be presented in class using the following rules: one of the reviewers will present your paper, another will critique it. You, then, will be given an opportunity to respond. The process is intended (1) to stimulate wider discussion and collective thinking about the literature and (2) to socialize you into the professional style of intellectual exchange. Each essay is due by 5:00 Monday, the day before each seminar session. Copies are to be given at that time to me and should also be distributed to all remaining seminar members via e-mail. Reviews are due in class the day of the presentation. Following the presentation, you should revise the paper and turn in the final version to me at the next class. I will take into account the reviewers comments when grading the paper myself, though I will also make my own assessment.

Essay 2: You will write a second essay on a question/topic of your own choosing arising from the material being discussed for that particular week. Again, you will be asked to raise a single or a series of theoretical, substantive, and/or methodological points deriving from your reading. The points should be ones designed to contribute to broader seminar-wide discussion. At the seminar session itself, essay writers will be allocated 15-20 minutes to present their argument. Each essay is due by 5:00 Monday, the day before each seminar session. Copies are to be given at that time to me and should also be distributed to all remaining seminar members via e-mail.

Research Paper: An original research paper addressing one of the areas emphasized in this seminar is required and due at the end of the semester (April 27 no later than 5:00, without exception). A one-page prospectus (clearly stating the research question, principal hypothesis, and methods) is due on March 2. The final product should take the form of a conference paper or journal article; in other words, it should be about 20 pages in length, contain a review of the relevant literature, and be written in the professional style of the American Political Science Association. You will present this paper in class and have it critiqued by a fellow student, and you will also critique the paper of another student. The objective of this is not the production of research design, but rather research. You may use whatever methodology you feel is most appropriate to the issue and which you feel qualified to implement. I will not be impressed by inept quantitative analysis, nor will I penalize competent historical, philosophical or case-study approaches.

 Exam: The final exam for this course is scheduled for May 5 (8:30-10:30 p.m.). This exam will measure your ability to synthesize the various and often competing theoretical approaches to European politics.

 Participation: I expect the course to be conducted as a seminar. That means that you need to talk as much as I do. Members are thus expected to attend all class sessions and to participate actively at each. Seminar participants must complete the assigned readings on time and contribute thoughtfully to class discussions.

Grade: The final seminar grade will be determined on the basis of the following weights:
Review Essay 1 10%

Review Essay 2 10%

Participation 20%

Research Paper 35%

Final Exam 25%


Section I: Introduction

January 12 Introduction to European Politics and Political Economy

Introductory comments and discussion of course format.
Framing of central issues and questions.
January 19 Historical and Institutional Foundations of Democracy in Europe

Section II: Players, Institutions, and Rules of the Game

January 26 Structuring Institutions: The Territorial Axis

 Supplementary Reading: February 2 Structuring Interests: Parties and Party Systems  February 9 Structuring Power: Making and Breaking Governments  Supplementary reading:

Section III: Domestic Political Economy

 February 16 Politics, Economics and the Structure of Credit and Blame

 February 23 Public Sector Politics and the European Welfare State  March 2 Reinventing Government: The Politics of Privatization March 9 Spring Break

Section IV: Politics and Policy in the European Union

 March 16 Integration and European Union Politics I

 Supplementary Reading:  March 23 Integration and European Union Politics II
Section V: Deepening and Widening

 March 30 Dealing with Immigration and Unemployment

April 6 Environmental Politics and the Greens

April 13 Politics of Expansion: Europe Moves Eastward

April 20 Wither the Atlantic Alliance? US-EU Relations in the 1990s and Beyond

April 27 Research Papers due

May 5 Exam (8:30-10:30)

Note: This course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.

Note: Students are responsible for the information contained in the Academic Honesty policy found in On Campus.