POLS218 - Authoritarianism in the 21st Century

10 cp
Prerequisites: 10 cp of 100-level units in Politics and International Relations
Teaching Organisation: Nil

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s generated great hope for the transition of all authoritarian regimes to democracy. However, this period of hope proved to be short-lived. A significant number of countries opted not to transition to democracy, whilst others, Russia for example, experienced the de-democratisation of political life and centralisation of power. For students of politics to understand the current political mosaic of the world necessitates the study of authoritarianism. This course explores the debate surrounding the concept of authoritarianism and how it differs from despotism, totalitarianism and other forms of non-democratic governance. What is an authoritarian regime? How do such regimes function? How do they become dis-functional and collapse? What mechanisms do they employ in their governmental and bureaucratic processes? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in this course.

In addition to investigating explanations for the resilience of authoritarianism in the 21st century, this course will discuss issues such as authoritarianism and its various forms, pathways traversed during the transition to democracy, authoritarianism and political economy, and the international dimension of authoritarianism.