Politics 216: Comparative Democratic Systems
Spring Semester 2017
Smullin Hall Room XXX
MWF 9:10–10:10

Prof. Michael Marks
Office: Smullin Hall 332
Office Tel: 503–370–6932
Politics Dept. Tel. 503–370–6060
E-mail: mmarks@willamette.edu
Home Page: http://www.willamette.edu/~mmarks
Office Hours: MWF: 10:15–11:15, TuTh 8:30–9:40, and by appointment

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to politics and government in advanced industrial societies. Primary emphasis will be placed on democratic countries in Europe, North America, and Japan, although references will also be made to Australia, New Zealand, and the emerging industrial democracies of East Asia, along with other emerging democratic societies. Through readings, lectures and discussions, students will explore governmental structures, policy-making, popular participation, and domestic and foreign policy issues across a variety of countries. Emphasis will be placed on the current state of politics in an industrialized world undergoing fundamental change in the post-Cold War era. The nature of democracy provides the backdrop for this discussion.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of similarities and differences in political institutions in advanced industrial societies.
2. Distinguish among competing explanations for political activity in advanced industrial societies.
3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of arguments made in course readings.
4. Identify sources of change in the politics of advanced industrial societies.
5. Write effectively and persuasively analyzing similarities and differences in political institutions in advanced industrial societies.
6. Use factual evidence to analyze politics in advanced industrial societies.

Time Commitment for This Course

Willamette’s Credit Hour Policy holds that for every hour of class time there is an expectation of 2–3 hours work outside of class. Thus, for a class meeting three hours a week such as this one you should anticipate spending 6–9 hours outside of class engaged in course-related activities. For this course you should allocate your time among the following three activities: Reading assigned texts (including preparing weekly chapter summaries of those texts), reading newspapers and/or online news resources on topics relevant to the class, writing the three essay assignments due over the course of the semester.

Course Organization

The course will employ a combination of lectures and student participation. Therefore, students will be expected to have completed the readings and be prepared to engage actively in the classroom discussion.

About Class Participation

The large size of this class is not particularly suited to classroom discussion. However, people tend to learn better when they verbalize new material. Therefore, students should be prepared to discuss the readings the weeks they are assigned.

Electronic Devices in the Classroom

Laptop computers can assist in note taking and wireless Internet access on campus can aid in organized classroom exercises. However, laptop computers can also be a classroom distraction. Laptop computers are permitted in class for note taking purposes. Additionally, there may be occasions when the class as a whole may want to use the campus wireless network to look things up online. However, please refrain from checking e-mail, online chatting, websurfing, game playing, etc. during class. If you are observed doing so during class time, you will asked to no longer bring your laptop to class. Additionally, cell phones should be turned off prior to class.


Students requiring accommodation should contact the Office of Accessible Education Services (Student Success Hub in Matthews Hall, Phone: 503–370–6737) for consultation and to make the necessary arrangements.

Managing the Reading List

In order to profit fully from the readings, students should read the material assigned for a particular week before the scheduled classroom discussion. We will discuss the readings assuming that the students have read them ahead of time. It is absolutely necessary that students be prepared to discuss the readings in the weekly discussion sections.


Students should purchase the following three books:

1. Jessica R. ADOLINO and Charles H. BLAKE, Comparing Public Policies: Issues and Choices in Industrialized Countries, (Second Edition), (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2011)

2. Markus M.L. CREPAZ and Jürg STEINER , European Democracies, (Eighth Edition), (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2013).

3. Mark KESSELMAN, (ed.), Readings in Comparative Politics, (Second Edition), (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010)

The readings below are noted as “ADOLINO & BLAKE,” “CREPAZ & STEINER,” and “KESSELMAN.”

Writing Assignments

1. There will be three take-home writing assignments. Questions will ask the students to analyze and evaluate some feature of the preceding weeks’ thematic discussions as covered in class and in the readings. No research is required for these take-home writing assignments.

2. Each week, except those weeks in which essays (above) are due, students are to choose one of the course readings for that week and hand in, in class on Monday of that week, a short (no more than one paragraph) summary of the reading’s main points, along with a discussion question for that reading.  These assignments are due in class on Mondays. No credit will be given for late submissions of these reading summaries.


The final grade will be computed as follows: First writing assignment: 20%; Second and third writing assignments: 35% each; Weekly summaries of course readings: 10%. In addition, the instructor reserves the right to raise final grades for superior classroom participation, and lower final grades for deficient classroom attendance.

Incompletes will be given only under exceptional circumstances such as serious illness. You may appeal any of your grades during office hours only after you have handed in a typed, reasoned memorandum detailing the specific reasons why you think the grade you received is not justified.

Late writing assignments will be assessed a one-third grade penalty per day (e.g., a B+ paper handed in a day late receives a B, two days late a B–, etc.).

Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

All writing assignments turned in must be your own written work. You may not copy, borrow, or appropriate other authors’ work, unless you are doing so in the form of a cited quotation. All references to other authors’ work must be fully documented in the form of citations and/or footnotes, and direct quotes must be indicated as such with quotation marks. Suspected cases of plagiarism will be pursued vigorously and appropriate penalties (including an “F” for the course) will be applied.

Willamette's Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

Course Schedule and Weekly Reading Assignments

January 18–20: Introduction

No readings

January 23–27: Elections and Popular Participation

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapters 3, 6
2. KESSELMAN: Reading 6.5

January 30–February 3: The Structure of Government

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: 4–5, 7
2. ADOLINO & BLAKE: Chapters 3–4

February 6–10: Political Parties

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapter 2


February 13–17: Pluralism, Interest Groups, Corporatism, and the State

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapter 9
2. KESSELMAN: Readings 3.2, 3.3, 4.2

February 20–24: Social Movements

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapter 8
2. KESSELMAN: Readings 6.6, 7.2

February 27–March 3: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, and Civic Society

1. KESSELMAN: Readings 4.1, 4.3, 7.3, 7.4

March 6–10: Economic Policy I

1. ADOLINO & BLAKE: Chapters 6–7
2. KESSELMAN: Readings 3.1, 3.4


March 13–17: Economic Policy II: The Welfare State and Social Policy

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapter 15
2. ADOLONO & BLAKE: Chapters 8–10
3. KESSELMAN: Reading 7.1

March 20–24: Nationalism, Ethnic Politics, and Consociationalism

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapters 12–13
2. KESSELMAN: Readings 1.5, 1.6, 5.2, 5.5, 6.4

March 27–31: Spring Break

Spring Break

April 3–7: Democratization in Historical Context

1. CREPAZ & STEINER: Chapter 11
2. KESSELMAN: Reading 1.2

April 10–14: Democratic Consolidation and the Status of Democracy Today

1. KESSELMAN: Readings 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 6.2

April 17–21: Political Change and Corruption

1. KESSELMAN: Readings 2.2, 2.4, 5.1, 6.1, 7.5


April 24–28: Post-Modern Politics

1. KESSELMAN: Readings 1.1, 1.4, 2.3, 2.6, 3.6

May 1: Conclusion

No readings