Course catalogue

NameAUG1F20 Illegal and Violent Political Protest: Empirical Methods and Applications
Language Engelsk
Course levelKandidat
Department Institut for Statskundskab
Related educations
Course code431192U073
TeacherOluf Gøtzsche-Astrup
Course type Tomplads Ordinær Udveksling
FacultyAarhus BSS
Course catalogue id98471

Description of qualifications:

<p>In democratic societies, political agency and the right to engage in the political debate through activism and protest are things to be cherished. Potent legislative and popular norms ensure the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. All the more reason why breaks with these norms have the potential to scar and wound nations deeply, as we have seen in the case of recent terror attacks, protests where splinter groups suddenly resort to violence, and politically motivated assassinations. It is of acute importance to understand the processes and factors that lead to such actions.</p> <p>Over the past decade, the study of political violence and radicalisation has moved from theoretical frameworks and case studies towards large-scale observational studies focusing on factors such as negative life experiences, loss of significance and grievances that are correlated with supporting political violence and perceiving intergroup relations to be mainly hostile. Important to note that this is an area where research and applications are very closely linked, and where research findings are quickly (perhaps too quickly) used to formulate and implement policy initiatives.</p> <p>As the problem of illegal protest behaviours and political violence is unfortunately unlikely to recede in the future, understanding the psychological mechanisms and societal antecedents of this behaviour is just as important for future policymakers and civil servants as it is for academics. The seminar aims to provide students with a knowledge of the cutting-edge research happening in this field, and more generally hone the ability to critically evaluate theoretical and empirical claims of mechanisms relevant to the study of political behaviour. Furthermore, it aims to train students in creating a solid thesis statement, construct theoretical models and test these models empirically. The seminar consists of three parts.&#160;</p> <p>Part one consists of an introduction to the central concepts in the literature, an overview of the most important theoretical models, and a brush-up of relevant statistical knowledge. It introduces students to the study of political behaviour and the distinctions between legal activism, illegal protest, and political violence. Since there will be an opportunity to work with existing datasets such as the American National Election Studies and the European Social Survey, a working knowledge of statistical methods and STATA (or other statistical program) is required.&#160;</p> <p>Part two goes into detail with the most influential models of explaining political protest and violence. In particular, theories of hostile intergroup behaviour and social identity and identity fusion will be in focus. We will also discuss the influence of personality and other individual differences such as aggression and &#8220;dark&#8221; personality traits on political protest and violence. Furthermore, the second part of the course will cover some of the distal explanations, such as evolved psychological mechanisms, and more proximate factors, such as political and economic instability, uncertainty, and social movements.</p> <p>In part three, we shall focus on research methods for accumulating knowledge of these phenomena, and how to translate this knowledge into policy practice. We will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of laboratory and survey experimental designs and other quantitative approaches as well as in-depth interviewing and qualitative approaches. As research in this area often has immediate implications for policymakers, we will take a look at the positive (and negative) consequences of this. This part of the course ends with preparing for the home assignment, although exercises in formulating a thesis statement and testing theorised relationships will be included all through the course.</p>


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