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Advanced Methodology



The classic idea of democracy is about people arriving at political decisions which realize the common good. However, there is ‘no such thing as a uniquely determined common good that all people could agree on or be made to agree on by the force of rational arguments. This is due not primarily to the fact that some people may want things other than the common good but to the much more fundamental fact that to different individuals and groups the common good is bound to mean different things’ (Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy 1981: 251).
The new idea of democracy is to resolve these contradictory views on the common goods and find a peaceful solution for making political decisions that have the support of the majority. Political parties are involved in the competitive struggle for political power and the competition is fought about opposing views on the common good. To get a clear view on these opposing views we have to analyze the election programs of political parties. During this course we are going to measure the position of parties on several issues. The content analysis of the manifestos will give us the position of parties on a number of dimensions. The question is then whether the locations of parties on a dimension are consistent with the requirements of the Mokken Scale Technique. After having established whether the dimensions satisfy the condition of scalability, we analyse the positions of parties in the space of competition with Multiple Dimension Scaling (MDS) Techniques, like ALSCAL, PROXSCAL and PREFSCAL.
With MDS we can establish the location of parties (and voters) in a Euclidean plane and the MDS gives us also the dimensionality of space itself, i.e. the parties (and voters) can be ranked on a single dimension or the position of parties can only be mapped in a two-dimensional (or multi-dimensional) space.

Methods of instruction

The course will use a mix of lectures, seminar style and instruction of new techniques.

Study material

Kenneth Benoit and Michael Laver (2006) Party Policy in Modern Democracies. London: Routledge.

A selection of articles (available on Blackboard)


The grade will be based on a final research paper and class participation

Tuesday 30 October till 18 December, 11.00-13.00 hrs in SA35 (except 6 November in SA09 and 13 November in 4B07)
Thursday 1 November till 20 December, 11.00-13.00 hrs in 1A46 (pc)