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Regular version of the site

The Political Theory

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
2 year, 1, 2 module


Akopov, Sergei

Riabov, Dmitriy

Course Syllabus


Students will learn about why these concepts of political theory matter, what controversies surround each of them and what the vigorous debates and disagreements about them reveals about the character of contemporary politics in the era of globalization. By the end of the course students will have a much better understanding of the ideational, normative dimension of political science. They will learn about how to do concept analysis, and generally improve their analytical capabilities and their abilities to grasp the essence of abstract ideas
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the concepts and authors of the contemporary political theory, grounding students in several national theoretical traditions and encouraging them to produce analysis beyond the nation-states centered paradigm.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction: thinking politically in different ways
    Political Philosophy, Political Theory and Normative thinking. An overview of main perspectives: Analytical Political Philosophy and The Continental Tradition. Six features of “political thinking” according to M.Freeden.
  • Power
    The general Concept of Power. Power, authority and leadership. Anthropological pedigree of power. Theories of political power. Measuring Power. The Forms of Power. Power as sacral and symbolic. M.Weber on power. Energy theory of power.
  • Theories of political violence, enemies and Just War
    The image of the “enemy”. Nationalist Violence. Violence as cultural difference. Group competition theory. Relative deprivation theory. The rational choice theory. Gender theory. Modernity theory. Securitization theory. “Banality of evil” by H.Arendt. J.B.Elshtain on “just wars” in the 20 and 21 century.
  • Sovereignty and State
    The Westphalian sovereignty. C. Schmitt on sovereignty and exceptionalism. Sovereignty as state centered political order. Sovereignty as a social construct. Sovereignty as a symbolic form. Sovereignty as ‘fantasy’. Sovereignty and humanitarian military intervention.
  • Modernity
    Modernity as Experience and Interpretation (P.Wagner). Modernity and autonomy. Multiple Modernities and the problem of justice and world order. Alternative Modernities.
  • Identity and ontological security
    Identity and identification. Why political identification is inevitable. Elements and models of political identification. Beyond the constructed “identity”. R.Lebow and psychological approach to political identities. Identity and Sovereignty. Theories of ontological security. Identity and existential anxiety.
  • Nation, Nationalism and patriotism
    Theories of nationalism. The political nature of the states of modernity (C. Tilly). Intellectual culture (E. Kedourie). Cultural communication (B. Anderson). Industrial achievements and the economy (E. Gellner). Cultural myths and historical memory (E. Smith). Types of patriotism.
  • Multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism as an ideology (from past to present). Multicultural policies. Seven contexts for understanding multiculturalism. Cases of multiculturalism by countries. Criticism of multiculturalism.
  • Cosmopolis and transnationalism
    “Thin” and “Thick” cosmopolitanisms (D.Held and M.Nussbaum). Critique of cosmopolitanism. Transnational identity. Cultural pluralism. Hybridity. Syncretism. Diffusion. Creolization. Diasporic identity. Postnationalism.
  • Social fact and constructivism
    Constructivism and its view of politics. Main representatives of constructivism in political and IR theory. Social construction of reality: agency – structure problem. Pierre Bourdieu on symbolic capital, habitus, and symbolic violence. J.Baudrillard on simulacra and simulation in construction of reality through mass media.
  • Gender and feminism
    Liberal feminism. Radical Feminism. Feminist postmodernists. Development of feminism in USA (J.Butler) and France (“ecriture feminine”). Feminist IR and postcolonial feminism.
  • Discourse and poststructuralism
    Structuralism is an intellectual movement (F. de Saussure and C.Lévi-Strauss). Deconstruction. Intersexuality. Performativity. Post-modernism. Discourse and figures of authority (M.Foucault). Panopticon. Biopower. Governmentality.
  • Hegemony and postcolonialism
    Classical concepts of postcolonialism. “Colonial discourse” theory. Intersectionality. Notion of “development”. Subaltern studies. Women and global nomadism.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking essay
  • non-blocking quiz
  • non-blocking in-class participation
    Some of the seminars is devoted to group discussion or modelling of group decision making based on the concept that are studied in the classrom.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.4 * essay + 0.4 * in-class participation + 0.2 * quiz


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Robert E. Goodin, & Philip Pettit. (2019). Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology: Vol. Third edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Bell, D. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy. Political Studies Review, 12(1), 94–95. https://doi.org/10.1111/1478-9302.12041_11
  • The Oxford handbook of political theory / ed. by John S. Dryzek . (2006). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.121392570