Democracy's Challenges
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Demokraatia väljakutsed
Course title in English
Democracy's Challenges
ECTS credits
Assessment form
lecturer of 2023/2024 Spring semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
lecturer of 2024/2025 Autumn semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
Course aims
The aim of the course is to explore the changing meaning and practice of democracy in contemporary
societies. While liberal democracy was heralded to become ‘the only game in town’ in the 1990s and a
vibrant civil society was seen as a welcome remedy to any problem, this enthusiasm has waned on a
global scale. By looking into the different normative accounts of democracy and their practice, the course
aims to understand, why is liberal democracy in decline, what are its possible futures and alternatives,
and what kind of a context do the different regimes create for civil society actors.
Brief description of the course
Introduction to democracy as an ideal, a regime and practice.
Normative accounts of democracy.
Democratic governance and political regimes.
Measuring democracy.
Populism: concept, causes and consequences.
Democratic backsliding: concept, causes and consequences.
Civil society and the government
What makes people participate?
Civil society actors: from stamp collectors to global social movements.
Opportunity structures for civil society actors
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- is familiar with the different normative conceptualisations of democracy;
- is familiar with the variety of political regimes and can use different democracy indexes to describe and compare the political regimes in different countries;
- understands the phenomena of populism and illiberalism, and what contributes to their success in contemporary times;
- is familiar with the different types of civil society actors and how they can achieve social change;
- can perform a basic analysis of the opportunity structure of different political regimes for various civil society actors.
Mari-Liis Jakobson