ASTK18279U Legitimacy and Representation in Modern Governance: From Normative Questions to Empirics
Bachelor student (2012 programme curriculum): 10 ECTS
Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS
Master student: 7.5 ECTS
Questions of legitimate rule, political representation and accountability are paramount in political science. Given the multiple sources and forms of power in global governance these questions have become increasingly complicated. This course blends normative political theory with empirical analyses to speak to questions such as:
Are national governments (still) responsive to their constituents? In what way is the European Union (EU) in a legitimacy crisis? What is (normatively) wrong with the United Nation (UN) Security Council? From which perspective is the power of the World Bank (not) legitimate? (How) can non-governmental organisations (NGOs) be held accountable?
The course is split into a three parts:
Part 1) Conceptual Basics
In the first part of the course, students will read and discuss seminal theoretical literature on the concepts of legitimacy and representation and related concepts such as accountability, authority and politicisation.
Part 2) Applications to Modern Governance
The second part then applies these concepts in empirical analyses of various political actors, namely national governments, international organisations (IOs), the EU, (international) assemblies, civil society organizations, interest groups and the judiciary.
Part 3) Conclusions and Culmination of Student Projects
In the third and last part we will conclude by discussing and strengthening student projects on puzzles about legitimacy and representation in modern governance with special emphasis on developing a suitable research design
The overall aim of the course is to equip students with the skills to design their own analyses of important normative questions in politics today by using:
1) consistent and compelling theoretical arguments and
2) strong and carefully selected empirical evidence.
Over the duration of the course students will, in teams or individually, work on a selected normative puzzle by developing both a conceptual approach and an empirical strategy.
More specifically, the course structure will be as follows:
Part 1: Conceptual Basics
1. Introduction: Normative Puzzles and Course Objectives
4. Authority, Accountability and Politicisation
Part 2: Applications to Important Actors in Modern Governance
5. National Governments
6. The European Union (EU) and its Institutions
7. International Organisations I: Framework and Examples
8. International Organisations II: Coping Strategies
10. Civil Society
11. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Interest Groups
12. The Judiciary
Part 3: Conclusions and Culmination of Student Projects
13. Research Design Lab
14. Conclusions and project pitches
- Students know the legitimacy challenges involved in modern governance at national and transnational level, and with regard to specific institutions such as national governments, international organisations (IOs), the European Union, civil society actors and (international) courts.
- Students know different conceptions of key normative concepts connected to representation and legitimacy, can locate them in theoretical traditions and discuss their main assumptions
- Students know how qualitative and quantitative methods can be applied to evaluate normative questions empirically
- Students can make consistent normative arguments orally and in writing, using examples/cases/empirics to substantiate their reasoning
- Students can apply different conceptualizations and operationalisations of key concepts, including legitimacy, representation, accountability
- Students can develop an analytical strategy/research design including suitable methods to study (normatively) important questions in political science
- Students can develop criteria to critically evaluate institutions and actor behaviour in various contexts
- Students can select appropriate methods to gather evidence for selected purposes in academic and non-academic environments
The great majority of readings for the course are state-of-the-art journal articles. In addition, relevant books and edited volumes are:
Beetham, D. (1991). The Legitimation of Power. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International.
Pitkin, H. F. (1967). The concept of representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Scharpf, F. W. (1999). Governing in Europe: Effective and democratic? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
J. Tallberg, K. Bäckstrand, and J. A. Scholte (Eds.) (2018). Legitimacy in Global Governance: Sources, Processes, and Consequences (pp. 101–118). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
D. Zaum (Ed.), (2012).Legitimating International Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
J. W. van Deth and W. A. Maloney (eds) (2012) New ‘Participatory’ Dimensions in Civil Society: Professionalization and Individualized Collective Action. London: Routledge
Kohler-Koch, B (2013). De-Mystification of Participatory Democracy: EU Governance and Civil Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
A. Follesdal, G. Ulfstein, H. G. Cohen, and N. Grossman (Eds.) (2018). Legitimacy and International Courts (pp. 143-173). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Moreover, the course is structured to enable the design of student-led projects with normative and empirical components. Teams of up to three students will form in the beginning of the course and work on a selected normatively relevant puzzle throughout the course. Their work will be submitted as a portfolio in two parts: Part 1) will be an assignment asking them to discuss the relevance of their chosen question and critically assess key concepts related to it. Part 2) will ask them to develop an empirical strategy to study their selected question.
The course literature provides the theoretical and methodological toolbox for this work. Moreover, the class sessions will include peer feedback and project pitches in order to give course participants the possibility to fine-tune their project and improve their writing and oral communication skills.
- Class Instruction
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- PortfolioPortfolio exam
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
Free written assignment
Criteria for exam assesment
- Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
- Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
- Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner