Political participation is a cornerstone of democracy. In democracies, citizens are not passive subjects of political rule but actively contribute to political rule. That basic understanding is uncontroversial, but the questions what political participation means, and what forms of political participation are essential for a healthy democracy, are controversial. For example, does it suffice if citizens regularly elect their representatives, or does a democracy require more unruly forms of political participation such as protest, or civil disobedience? The course deals with the diverse landscape of theories of political participation. It contrasts different understandings of political participation and aims at a clarification of their respective strengths and weaknesses. In addition, it connects the theoretical debates with considerations of empirical work on political participation. What characterises the practices of political participation in contemporary democracies, and what are important deficits of these practices? In particular, the course aims at interlinking theoretical and empirical debates on political participation by examining how findings from one field can be fruitful for the other.
Term paper (approx. 4,500 words)
Reading for Preparation:
Peters, Yvette (2018): Political Participation, Diffused Governance, and the Transformation of Democracy. Patterns of Change. London/New York: Routledge, chapter 2.