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Personalisation of Politics



It is a widely held belief, in particular among politicians and journalists, that politics is becoming more personalized. A central part of that theory maintains that more and more voters decide on the basis of their evaluation of politicians rather than their view of the party programmes. An important offshoot of this debate regards the ‘presidentialization’ of parliamentary systems of government, arguing that prime ministers come to personify the government more and more and act as presidents rather than as chairs of the council of ministers. In the first part of this seminar we shall address various questions with respect to the personalization of contemporary politics. What is meant by the concept of ‘personalization’? What evidence is there of such a trend, and how can it be explained? We shall look at various aspects including institutional reform, the role of the media, electoral behaviour, and cabinet decision-making. Building on this overview, participants will engage in their own research project on a research question within the theme of personalization in politics. The research may draw on original data, to be collected during the seminar, but can also be based on a secondary analysis of existing data.


In Block 3, each week we shall discuss which of next week’s readings will be read by all, for which readings there will be a choice, and which readings are merely suggested. A photocopy of each reading is available one week in advance (if it is not available electronically).  


With the exception of the first week, during Block 3 you will write a weekly research note (max 600 words; deadline Monday noon, both in hardcopy in the letterbox outside the Political Science secretariat, and electronically via Turnitin). These brief research notes outline a potential idea for research and show how this research question is related to that week's readings. Attendance is compulsory; students can be absent for a good reason max one meeting.

Block 4 is devoted to the individual research project, culminating
in a seminar paper (max 8000 words) and a poster presentation. There will be fewer (but longer) collective sessions. In between, students can seek individual advice.


The average grade of the six best research notes in Block 3 constitutes 50% of the final grade; the grade of the seminar paper (40%) and the poster presentation (10%) make up the other half.


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