Democracy and State-formation in a Historical Perspective
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Demokraatia ja riikluse areng ajaloolises perspektiivis
Course title in English
Democracy and State-formation in a Historical Perspective
ECTS credits
Assessment form
lecturer of 2021/2022  Autumn semester
Tõnis Saarts (language of instruction:English)
lecturer of 2021/2022  Spring semester
lecturer not assigned
Course aims
The course aims to introduce the evolution of democracy and state-formation from a historical perspective. In order to do so, the course puts forward an interdisciplinary approach in which different disciplines, as political science, history, sociology, and Asian studies, are integrated. Along with the Western European historical experiences, democratization and state-building will also be explored in a comparative perspective in the other parts of the world: in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Brief description of the course
The course provides an overview of the classical authors and theories of historical sociology regarding democratization and state-building (e.g., Charles Tilly, Barrington Moore, Michael Mann, Francis Fukuyama, etc.). The students learn how to analyze the processes of democratization and state-formation in different places of the globe. Various factors and causal pathways are mapped, which have affected democratization and state-formation in different historical periods. The course is not only intended for the students of politics and governance but might also interest the students of sociology, history, and Asian studies. The topics covered by the course will be as follows: the basic concepts – democracy, the state, and statehood; the evolution of democracy and logic of state-building in Western Europe – the impact of wars, class relations, and ideas; the divergent trajectories for democracy and state-building within Europe – East vs. West, North vs. South; the essential divergences between Europe and Asia; state-building in Asia – China and South East Asia; the borders, nation-building, and democratization in Asia; the state-building and democratization in Africa – the colonial legacies and other factors behind the low state-capacity; the state-building and democratization in Latin America in comparison with the United States.

The independent work done by the students will predominately take place in the seminars, for which the students read the texts by the classical authors in the field and later discuss them. By the end of the course, the students are supposed to submit a short essay in which they will analyze the historical experience of state-building and democratization in their own countries while applying the various theories learned from the course.
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- knows the basic theoretical concepts of democracy and state-formation and is able to apply those concepts to various historical and contemporary contexts (e.g. his/her own country or region);
- is familiar with the basic theories and classical authors of historical sociology, regarding the field of democracy and state-formation;
- can use the methods of historical comparative analysis to explore the processes and trajectories of democratization and state-building for various cases and contexts;
- acquires some practical skills and experiences for interdisciplinary research.
Tõnis Saarts