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The Value of Democracy; What is Democracy For? (PO9D5)

What is the value of democracy? What is democracy for? Do we need democracy? The study of such questions is essential at the moment. The pulling power of ISIS among young Muslims living in western democracies, the strong Russian machine of propaganda against democracy, and the rise of populism within democracies: democracy is going through challenging times. It is more and more pertinent and essential to formulate the values and benefits of the democratic form of government. We need a clearer narrative around what democracy is and what it brings us, and what not.

In this module, we will first discuss and compare different concepts, focusing on 'values' and 'democracy'. Then, we will explore the effects of democratic systems on key outcomes such as control of corruption, peace, climate change. Are democracies less corrupt, more peaceful, and greener? Finally, the module will discuss and challenge the ideas that democracy is a constructive value (focusing on the role of education) or an intrinsic value (democracy is valuable for its own sake). The module will pay attention both for the general patterns, and also for specific cases such as the Arab Spring, corruption in India, Putin's Russia, France and its 'war against terrorism', illiberal developments in Hungary, the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, populism in Europe and the USA.

We have an outstanding international reputation in this area with world leading researchers. In addition, we attract a number of internationally renowned researchers to give guest lectures and seminars relating to this field. This module explores a number of cutting-edge research topics and is supported by the ongoing research work within the department. By choosing this module you will be challenged by the dynamism of a theme that is discussed on a daily basis: not just academics but also policy makers and journalists are interested in issue whether democracy is still ‘worth it’. This module will give you the tools to effectively interrogate the challenges around the value of democracy, through interactive and engaging seminars, readings, guest lecturers, and group tasks.


Module Director:

Renske Doorenspleet