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PhD Course: Political Science Research – Problems and Perspectives

The PhD course "Political Science Research – Problems and Perspectives" welcome all PhD students to participate in some of the course's sessions.

PhD Course – Political Science Research

October 2023–February 2024


Jens Bartelson (course convenor)
Agustín Goenaga (course convenor)
Hanna Bäck
Mats Fred
Martin Hall
Catarina Kinnvall

General information

This course aims to provide doctoral students with knowledge of the basic concepts and theories of political science and its study.

  1. In the first part of the course, students are required to read selected classics of political science from different subdisciplines, partly in order to familiarize themselves with the rich history of the discipline, partly in order to identify recurrent problems and concepts that have shaped the identity of the study of politics and continue to animate current debates.
  2. In the second part of the course, students are required to familiarize themselves with some classical statements in the theory of social sciences and assess their implications for the study of politics.
  3. The third part of the course is devoted to contemporary debates within different subdisciplines, with special reference to the concepts and problems discussed previously in the course. In this part, scholars from the department will present state-of-the-art scholarship from their respective fields and discuss their broader relevance to the development of the discipline.

Learning outcomes

Participants will be able to accomplish the following objectives by the end of the course:

  • Compare and critically discuss different definitions and understandings of politics.
  • Compare and critically discuss core concepts and problems of political science.
  • Compare and critically discuss different approaches to the study of political science.
  • Compare and critically discuss different theories of science and their implications.
  • Being aware of the major contemporary debates within different subdisciplines.
  • Being aware of the interfaces and synergies between these subdisciplines.


Teaching will consist of seminars in which the teachers provide a brief introduction to the topic at hand and participants analyze together the assigned readings.

For Parts 1 and 2, the course instructors will circulate in advance a set of questions to guide the discussion. Participants will be required to submit short reflection papers about the readings the night before each seminar.

For Part 3, each instructor will contact participants ahead of time if anything needs to be prepared in advance besides reading the assigned texts.


Apart from being required to actively participate in discussions, participants will submit short reflection papers before each seminar in which they reflect and discuss the questions circulated by the instructors based on the assigned readings.

The final assignment will be an essay (~5000 words) in which PhD students position their dissertation topic / idea in relation to broader debates in political science and its sub-fields. This assignment should serve as a building-block towards their plan paper, as it should encourage students to articulate how they envision their dissertation project will contribute to ongoing research in the discipline.

The deadline to submit the assignment is April 3, 2024. Please send it via e-mail to the course conveners:

Jens Bartelson (jens [dot] bartelson [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (jens[dot]bartelson[at]svet[dot]lu[dot]se)
Agustín Goenaga (agustin [dot] goenaga [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (agustin[dot]goenaga[at]svet[dot]lu[dot]se))

Schedule of activities


Theme: What is politics?    

Date: Tuesday, October 3, 2023. 13:00–15:00                              
Location: Eden 367  
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Arendt, Hannah, 2013, [1958]. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Excerpts: Prologue, Ch. 1-5, 9-10, 24, 43 & 45; 65 p.)
  • Aristotle, 1996, [c 330 BC]. The Politics and the Constitution of Athens. Edited by Raymond Geuss and Quentin Skinner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Book I & III, 58 p.)
  • Locke, John, 1988 [1689]. Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Second Treatise, Chs. 2 & 3, pp. 269-282, 13 p.)
  • Schmitt, Carl, 2008, [1932]. The Concept of the Political. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Excerpts: pp. 19-37; 18 p)


  • Bevir, Mark, 2022. A History of Political Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 82 p.

Theme: Power, authority, legitimacy                   

Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2023. 13:00–15:00                                        
Location: Eden 367    
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Arendt, Hannah, 1977, [1954]. ‘What is Authority?’ in Between Past and Future. London: Penguin. pp. 91-141. (50 p.)
  • Dahl, Robert A., 1973. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Excerpts, Ch. 1-2; 29 p.)
  • Foucault, Michel, 1982. "The Subject and Power." Critical Inquiry Vol. 8 No. pp. 777-795, 18 p.
  • Machiavelli, Niccolò, 2019, [1532]. The Prince. Edited by Quentin Skinner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Chs. I-III & VII-X, 25 p.)
  • Mills, C. Wright, 1956. The Power Elite. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 29 p.).
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1995, [1792]. A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Hints. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 2, pp. 87-108, 21 p.)


  • Parietti, Guido, 2022, On the Concept of Power: Possibility, Necessity, Politics. Oxford: Oxford                       University Press. 269 p.

Theme: The state

Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2023. 13:00–15:00                                          
Location: Eden 367 
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Brown, Wendy, 2010. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, pp. 7-43, 36 p.)
  • Hobbes, Thomas, 1996, [1651]. Leviathan. Edited by Richard Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Chs. XVI-XVIII, pp. 111-129, 18 p.)
  • Huntington, Samuel P., 2006 [1968]. Political Order in Changing Societies. (New Haven: Yale University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, pp. 1-39 & 78-92; 53 p.)
  • Sneath, David, 2007. The Headless State: Aristocratic Orders, Kinship Society, & Misrepresentations of Nomadic Inner Asia. New York: Columbia University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 37 p.)
  • Tilly, Charles, 1985. ‘War Making and State Making as Organized Crime’, in Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 169-191. (22 p.)
  • Weber, Max, 2009, [1919]. ‘Politics as a Vocation’, in From Max Weber. Essays in Sociology. Edited by H. H. Gerth and C Wright Mills. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 77-128. (51 p.)


  • Pettit, Philip, 2023, The State. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 363 p.

  • Levi, Margaret, 2002.’The State of the Study of the State’, in Ira Katznelson and Helen Milner (eds.) Political Science: The State of the Discipline. New York: Norton. pp. 33-55. (22 p.)

  • Skocpol, Theda, 1985. ‘Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research’, in Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol (eds.), Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 3-38. (35 p.)

Theme: Its competitors                                       

Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2023. 10:00–12:00
Location: Eden 367    
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga                          


  • Alighieri, Dante, 1996, [c. 1313]. Monarchy, Edited by Prue Shaw. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Book I, 29 p.)
  • Kant, Immanuel, 1991, [1795]. ’Perpetual Peace. A Philosophical Sketch’, in Hans Reiss (ed.) Kant: Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 93-130. (37 p.)
  • Kumar, Krishan, 2017. Visions of Empire. How Five Imperial Regimes Shaped the World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 35 p.)
  • Sassen, Saskia, 2008. Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Excerpts: Introduction, 30 p.)
  • Strange, Susan, 1996. The Retreat of the State. The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-2, 5 & 13; 64 p.)


  • Barnett, Michael, Pevehouse, J., & Raustiala, K., 2021. ‘Introduction: The Modes of Global Governance.’ In M. Barnett, J. Pevehouse, & K. Raustiala (Eds.), Global Governance in a World of Change Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 47 p.

Theme: Democracy 

Date: Tuesday, November 7, 2023. 13:00–15:00                                          
Location: Eden 367  
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga       


  • Downs, Anthony, 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Brothers. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-4 & 16; 65 p.)
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin & Stein Rokkan. 1967. ‘Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An Introduction’, in Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives. New York: Free Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, pp. 1-64; 64 p.)
  • Mansbridge, Jane, 1983. Beyond Adversary Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-3 & 21; 39 p.)
  • Schumpeter, Joseph, 2010 [1943]. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. London & New York: Routledge. (Excerpts: Chs. 22 & 23, pp. 241-269, 28 p.)
  • Young, Iris Marion, 2002. Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Excerpts: Introduction & Ch. 1; 50 p.).


  • Lijphart, Arend, 1999. Patterns of Democracy. Government Forms and Performance in Thirty- Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-3; 47 p.)
  • Müller, Jan-Werner, 2021. Democracy Rules. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 256 p.

Theme: Institutions            

Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2023. 13:00–15:00                                              
Location: Eden 367  
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Douglas, Mary, 1986. How Institutions Think. New York: Syracuse University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 18 p.)
  • Hall, Peter A. and Rosemary C. R. Taylor, 1996. ‘Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms’, Political Studies, vol 44, no. 5, pp. 936-957. (21 p.)
  • Hirschman, Albert, 1970. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-3, 9; 49 p.)
  • March, James G. & Johan P. Olsen. 1984. ‘The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life’. American Political Science Review vol. 78, no. 3, pp. 734-749. (15 p.)
  • North, Douglass C., 1990. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-4, 8, 9-11; 71 p.)
  • Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-2 & 6; 70 p.)


  • Guala, Francesco, 2016. Understanding Institutions. Princeton University Press. 256 p.

  • Farrell, Henry, Hugo Mercier, and Melissa Schwartzberg. 2022. ‘Analytical Democratic Theory: A Microfoundational Approach’. American Political Science Review, Online first, pp. 1-6 (6 p.).

Theme: Norms, ideas and practices

Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2023. 13:00–15:00
Location: Eden 367
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Bourdieu, Pierre, 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 27 p.)
  • Finnemore, Martha and Kathryn Sikkink, 1998. ’International Norm Dynamics and Political Change.’ International Organization vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 887-917. (30 p.)
  • Lipsky, Mikael, 1969. Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services. New York: Russel Sage Foundation. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-2; 22 p.)
  • Putnam, Robert, 1993. Making Democracy Work. Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 4, 5; 75 p.)
  • Zaller, John R., 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1-3; 53 p.)


  • Abraham, Kavi Joseph, 2022. "Midcentury Modern: The Emergence of Stakeholders in Democratic Practice." American Political Science Review Vol. 116. No. 2: 631-644.


Theme: Ways of theorizing I                             

Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2023. 13:00–15:00                                            
Location: Eden 367   
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Allen, Amy, 2013. The Politics of Our Selves: Power, autonomy, and gender in contemporary critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 18 p.)
  • Butler, Judith, 2007, [1990]. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London & New York: Routledge. (Excerpts: Part I, 32 p.)
  • Pocock, John G. A., 2009. Political Thought and History: Essays on Theory and Method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Excerpts: Chs. 5, 6 & 13, 52 p.)

Theme: Ways of theorizing II                              

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2023. 13:00–15:00                                            
Location: Eden 367  
Instructors: Jens Bartelson & Agustín Goenaga


  • Geddes, Barbara, 2003. Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. (Excerpts: Ch. 2; 61 p.)
  • Searle, John, 1995. The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press, 1995. (Excerpts: Ch. 1, 30 p.)
  • Swedberg, Richard, 2012. ‘Theorizing in Sociology and Social Science: Turning to the context of discovery.’ Theory and Society vol. 41, no. 1, pp.1-40. (40 p.)


Theme: Political Theory I. What is the difference between political theory and social theory?

Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2024. 10:00–12:00                                             
Location: Eden 137 
Instructors: Martin Hall


  • Dryzek, John, Bonnie Honig and Anne Phillips (2006) “Introduction”, in John Dryzek, Bonnie Honig and Anne Phillips (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, OUP. 3-45. (42 p.)
  • Helliwell, Christine and Barry Hindess (2006) “Political Theory and Social Theory” in John Dryzek, Bonnie Honig and Anne Phillips (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, OUP. 810-827. (17 p.)
  • Ritzer, George and Barry Smart (2001) “Introduction: Theorists, Theories and Theorizing” in George Ritzer and Barry Smart (eds) Handbook of Social Theory, SAGE. 1-11. (11 p.)

Theme: Political Theory II. Intellectual history and / or normative theory

Date: Friday, January 19, 2024. 13:00–15:00                                             
Location: Eden 367   
Instructors: Martin Hall


  • Bartelson, Jens (2007) “Philosophy and History in the Study of Political Thought” in Journal of the Philosophy of History 1(1): 101-124. (23 p.)
  • Farr, James (2006) “The History of Political Thought as Disciplinary Genre” in John Dryzek, Bonnie Honig and Anne Phillips (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, OUP. 225-242. (17 p.)
  • Wagner, Peter (2003) “As Intellectual History Meets Historical Sociology: Historical Sociology after the Linguistic Turn” in Gerard Delanty and Engin F. Isin (eds) Handbook of historical sociology. London: Sage. 168-180. (12 p.)

Theme: Comparative Politics I. Intro and elite-level behavior (executives)

Date: Monday, January 22, 2024. 10:00–12:00                                           
Location: Eden 367     
Instructors: Hanna Bäck


  • Bäck, Hanna, Debus, Marc, and Müller, Wolfgang C., 2016. “Intra-party Diversity and Ministerial Selection in Coalition Governments”. Public Choice 166: 355-378 (22 p.).
  • Indriðason, Indriði H., and Christopher Kam. 2020. A Rational Choice Perspective on Political Executives. In Andeweg et al. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Executives. Oxford University Press (91-109, 18 p.)
  • Klüver, Heike, and Hanna Bäck. 2019. "Coalition agreements, issue attention, and  cabinet governance." Comparative Political Studies 52.13-14: 1995-2031 (36 p.).
  • Munck, Gerardo L., and Richard Snyder. 2007. Debating the direction of comparative politics: An analysis of leading journals. Comparative Political Studies 40(1): 5-31 (26 p.).
  • Wilson, Matthew Charles. 2017. "Trends in Political Science Research and the Progress of Comparative Politics." PS: Political Science & Politics 50(4): 979-984. (5 p.).

Theme: Comparative Politics II. Mass-level behavior: Affective polarization

Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2024. 10:00–12:00                                            
Location: Eden 367    
Instructors: Hanna Bäck


  • Dias, Nicholas, and Yphtach Lelkes. 2022. The nature of affective polarization: Disentangling policy disagreement from partisan identity. American Journal of Political Science 66(3): 775-790. (15 p.)
  • Huddy, Leonie, and Omer Yair. 2021. Reducing affective polarization: Warm group relations or policy compromise? Political Psychology 42(2): 291-309. (18 p.)
  • Iyengar, S., Lelkes, Yptach, Levendusky, Matthew, Malhotra, Neil, & Westwood, Sean. J. 2019. “The origins and consequences of affective polarization in the United States”. Annual Review of Political Science, 22, 129-146 (17 p.).
  • Mason, Lilliana. 2015. “I disrespectfully agree”: The differential effects of partisan sorting on social and issue polarization." American Journal of Political Science 59.1: 128-145 (17 p.).
  • Renström, Emma A., Hanna Bäck, and Royce Carroll. 2023. “Threats, Emotions, and Affective Polarization”. Forthcoming in Political Psychology (36 p.).

Theme: Public Administration I. Change and continuity – The case of public sector innovation

Date: Monday, January 29, 2024. 10:0–12:00                                             
Location: Eden 367     
Instructors: Mats Fred


  • Vogel, R. Hattke, F. A century of Public Administration: Traveling through time and topics. Public Administration. 100:17–40. (23 p.)
  • McDonald B. D. Hall, J. L. O´Flynn, J. van Thiel, S. 2022. The future of public administration research: An editor’s perspective. Public Administration. 100:59–71. (12 p.)
  • Kettl, D. F. 2022. Public administration and political science: Can this marriage be saved? Governance 35:983–990. (7 p.)
  • Douglas, S., P. T. Hart, C. Ansell, L. Anderson, M. Flinders, B. Head, and D. Moynihan. 2019. Towards Positive Public Administration: A Manifesto. Submitted to Public Administration (25 p.)

Theme: Public Administration II. The end of bureaucracy?

Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2024. 10:00–12:00                                            
Location: Eden 367
Instructors: Mats Fred


  • Byrkjeflot, Haldor and du Gay, Paul (2012), "Bureaucracy: An Idea Whose Time has Come (Again)?", Diefenbach, T. and Todnem By, R. (Ed.) Reinventing Hierarchy and Bureaucracy – from the Bureau to Network Organizations (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 35), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-109. (24 p.)
  • Ferguson, Katherine, 1985. The Feminist Case Against Bureaucracy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (excerpts; ca. 30 p.)
  • McMullin, Caitlin. 2021. Challenging the necessity of New Public Governance: Co-production by third sector organizations under different models of public management. Public Administration. Vol.99:5-22. (17 p.)
  • Styhre, Alexander. The innovative bureaucracy. Bureaucracy in an age of fluidity. Routledge studies in innovation, organization and technology. (Ch. 1, 26p.)

Theme: International Relations I.

Date: Tuesday, February 6, 2024. 10:00–12:00                                           
Location: Eden 367   
Instructors: Catarina Kinnvall


  • Epstein, Charlotte (2013) ‘Theorizing Agency in Hobbes Wake: The rational actor, the self or the speaking subject’, International Organization 67(2): 287-316 (29 p.)

  • Hutchings, Kimberly and Owens, Patricia (2021) ‘Women Thinkers and the Canon of International Thought: Recovery, rejection, and reconstitution’, American Political science Review, 1-13, (online) (13 p.)

  • Navon, Emmanuel (2001) ‘The Third Debate Revisited’, Review of International Studies 27: 611-25 (14 p.)

  • De Carvalho, Benjamin, Leira, Halvard, Hobson, John M. (2011) ‘The Big Bangs of IR: The myths that your teachers still tell you about 1648 and 1919’, Millenium 39(3): 725-738 (13 p.)

Theme: International Relations II.

Date: Thursday, February 8, 2024. 10:00–12:00                                           
Location: Eden 367   
Instructors: Catarina Kinnvall


  • Bhambra, Gurminder (2014) Postcolonial and Decolonial Dialogues’, Postcolonial Studies, 17(2): 115-121. (6 p.)
  • Burke, Anthony, Fisher, Stefanie, Mitchell Audra, Dalby, Simon, Levine, Daniel J. (2016), ‘Planet Politics: A manifesto from the End of IR’ Millenium 44(3): 499-523. (24 p.)
  • Hobson, John, M. (2007) ‘Is Critical Theory always for the White West or for Western Imperialism: Beyond Westphilian towards a post-racist critical IR’ Review of International Studies, 33(S1): 91-116 (25 p.)
  • Hutchinson, Emma and Bleiker, Roland (2014) ‘Theorizing Emotions in World Politics’, International Theory, 6(3): 491-514. (23 p.)
  • Kinnvall, Catarina and Mitzen, Jennifer (2020) ‘Anxiety, Fear, and Ontological Security in World Politics: Thinking with and beyond Giddens’, International Theory, 12(2): 240-256. (16 p.)
  • Lyytikäinen, Minna, Yadav, Punal, Wibben, Annick TR (2020) ‘Unruly wives in the household: Toward feminist genealogies for peace research’, Cooperation and Conflict, 65(1): 3-25. (22 p.)