Bad Democracies Vs. Good Autocracies?: Migration, Populism, Corruption, and Gender Politics in Contemporary Societies

Dr. Ina Kubbe

Post-doctoral fellow, Tel Aviv University, PhD Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

The main purpose of this course is to provide students with an overview of the political, economic and social challenges and issues of contemporary democracy as well as non-democratic countries around the globe. From a comparative perspective, we will mainly focus on four topics that almost every society is confronted with, but handle in many different ways: migration, populism, corruption and gender politics.
 

Generally, we will discuss how states are governed and compare patterns of governance found in the two major regime types in the world today: democracy and authoritarianism. We will have a look at the role of key actors, institutions, policies, policy-making, public opinion and certain issues and debates over these global phenomena in different countries. The course seeks to answer the following major questions: (1) what are the causes, effects, and challenges of migration, populism, corruption and gender issues in democratic and non-democratic societies; (2) how do policymakers respond to these effects? (3) and how are these challenges and issues interrelated.
 
 
The course is divided into four parts. 
 
The first part we will examine the major theories and concepts in the field of migration studies. We will analyze why people choose to leave their homes and the history of international immigration to better understand how the politics of immigration in democracies and authoritarian regimes have developed over time and how they specifically face and react to migration. We will discuss the effects, challenges, opportunities, and future of migration and the politics surrounding policies on migration.
 
 
The second part of the course focuses on the rise of populism and populist movements on different continents that have been giving voice to opposition to immigration, globalization, multiculturalism, to concerns for the preservation of national, regional and ethnic identity and to general discontent with the current political, economic and social order. We will discuss the difference between right-wing and left-wing populism and identity politics and answer the question if populism is a new form of government as an alternative to democracy and/or autocracy.
 
 
The third part of the course will concentrate on the analysis of corruption. Corruption can be found at every level of government and administration in every society where people are willing to abuse public office for private gain. It can be found in the most stable and successful democracies as well as in more often-flawed democracies. However, corruption plays a particularly telling role in hybrid and authoritarian regimes, being both a cause and effect of the kind of power that authoritarian leaders wield. We will discuss whether corruption looks different in democratic versus non-democratic systems, and in competitive versus non-competitive electoral processes. In exploring the relationship between corruption and regime types, the course will discuss case studies of both democracies with very high levels of corruption and non-democracies with relatively low levels of corruption.

 
The fourth part of the course will focus on gender perspectives and the role of women in migration, populism and the fight against corruption. We will look at the impact of gender on politics and how to develop gender-sensitive public policies in democratic as well as authoritarian systems. We will consider how women’s interests are represented, whether the gender of political representative matters and in what ways political institutions are and should be gendered to promote gender equality in different regime types.
 

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