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Colloquium Political Behaviour and Communication


Course Content

Is democratic legitimacy at risk because of eroding social capital, growing political cynicism, and increasing intolerance? Are political debates and decision making shaped by hypes in public opinion, or is public opinion moulded by media effects and political spin doctors? Do voters base their party choice increasingly on the personalities of party leaders, or on the policies outlined in the election manifestos? Political commentators may think that they already know the answers to such questions, but the study of political behaviour and political communication often comes up with surprising answers on the basis of empirical research.
This course provides an overview of our current knowledge of recent developments in the field of political behaviour and political communication. At the level of the citizens we shall discuss the search for new explanations of voting behaviour, the emergence of protest politics and political terrorism, the question whether ordinary citizens have coherent opinions at all, whether democracy is safe in their hands and the extent to which citizens tolerate diversity. We shall look into the extent citizen opinions are molded top-down through political socialization and communication strategies and the extent to which their opinions are translated into public policy bottom up through political representation.

Method of Instruction

Intensive reading, weekly short essays, classroom discussion.


(+ 750 pages)

Russell Dalton and Hans-Dieter Klingemann (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior, Oxford: Oxford University Press, paperback edition 2009.

Parts of this book will also be used in other seminars within the track Political Behaviour & Communication.

Other readings, to be announced

Method of Examination

Grades will be based on weekly short essays and book review.


Monday 31 October till 19 December, 15.00 – 17.00 hrs. in SA31 (except 31 Oct SA21)