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Political Socialization, Integration and Cohesion



The key question of this course is: When, how, and as a result of who or what do individuals and groups – political elites and citizens – acquire particular political knowledge, beliefs, opinions, preferences, attitudes, values, emotions, behavioral intentions and behavioral patterns? The course aims to explore and assess the existing political socialization literature, to find out whether this literature offers answers to the key question of this course, and to discover which fundamental problems are still to be studied empirically and which new questions pose new challenges to political socialization researchers. After finishing this course you will have greater knowledge and insight in the main theories of political socialization, the methodologies of political socialization research, and the findings of recently published cross-national or cross-sectional empirical political socialization studies. You will also be able to design an empirical political socialization research project of your own, to describe this project in a full research proposal and to design and present a poster about this research proposal. You will also have more capacities to make well-structured and clear oral presentations on academic insights, to communicate academic insights in written ways in an academically well-informed and clear manner, and to continue analyzing academic issues in an independent and self-directed manner. Finally, this course is also designed to stimulate your curiosity about human political behavior and their minds, to offer you an appreciation for scientific methods and for their limitations, and to stimulate you develop a critical attitude.

This course is very clearly a political science course in which we try to explain political orientations and behavior; there is a strong focus on theory and inquiry. The first part of the course focuses on learning the main theories in the field of political behavior and political socialization theory in particular. In this part, the main course assignments and activities are: lectures, literature study, writing reviews, and literature workshops. In the second part of the course we try to get an overview of the state of the art of political socialization research regarding various topics. The main assignments and activities are: writing a ‘state of the art’ paper and presenting this paper at one of the ‘state of the art’ panels. The third part of the course focuses on fundamental problems that are still to be studied empirically and new questions that pose new challenges to political socialization researchers. The main activities in this part of the course are: designing an empirical political socialization research project of your own, to describe this project in a full research proposal, and to present a research proposal poster.

Methods of Instruction

The course includes various methods of teaching and learning: lectures, studying the assigned readings, writing reviews, literature workshops, a political socialization autobiography workshop, writing and presenting a ‘state of the art’ paper, and designing, writing and presenting a research proposal.


Approximately 700 pages.

  • Dekker, H. (2010). Political Socialization. Leiden University: Blackboard text (40 pages).

  • Dalton, R. J. & Klingemann, H.-D. (Eds.) (2007). The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters: 1, 2, 5, 9, 12, 14, 21, 22, and 33. Total: 138 pages (out of the 927 pages of the book).

  • Sears, D. O., Huddy, L. & Jervis, R. (Eds.) (2003). Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. Chapters 3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 18. Total: 248 pages (out of the 822 pages of the book).

  • A selection of articles.


The grade for your course work is the weighted total of the grades for your two written literature reviews (2 times 1/10), ‘state of the art’ paper (3/10), written research proposal (4/10), and your research proposal poster (1/10).


Tuesday 2 November till 21 December, 11.00-13.00 hrs. in SA21.