PLSC 7N: Contemporary Political Ideologies
Time Offered:3:05PM - 4:20PM
This course provides a comparative analysis of the beliefs, values and ideas that constitute the major political ideologies in contemporary politics, such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism, fascism and environmentalism. The course focuses on ideologies as traditions of thought developed through contentious political action with attention both to the unique features of each ideology and the ways that they overlap in theory and practice. It considers what ideologies are, what they do, and how we can study them. Each ideology is examined with respect to its historical origin; the major ideas, thinkers, events and political activists associated with its genesis; and how it has developed and changed in response to new circumstances. Students learn to think about ideologies as distinct from parties, regimes and political actors, and to establish criteria for classifying them in order to observe their influence on and through political action and organization. As the belief systems that underlie or justify political action, ideologies include views about human nature, history, and the scope and purpose of government. Ideologies implicitly or explicitly suggest an ideal form of socio-political organization that articulates who owes what to whom and establishes criteria for evaluating the status quo. The course will investigate how different ideologies understand the political community, the role of government, access to knowledge, institutional legitimacy and change. Students will learn to identify the value commitments various ideologies entail, as well as how those values shape the perception of political problems and the actions they necessitate.