Democracy and contentious politics

Teaching in italian
Democracy and contentious politics
Democracy and contentious politics
Subject area
Reference degree course
Course type
Master's Degree
Teaching hours
Frontal Hours: 60.0
Academic year
Year taught
Course year
Reference professor for teaching

Teaching description

1) Objective:

The DEMCONPOL teaching module is devoted to the analysis of Democracy and its relationship with the dimension of social and political conflict. In addition to the classic images of liberal democracy, the module offers a sociological interpretation of the democratic process through the work of critical scholars. The main theoretical challenges to liberal democracy are addressed (from deliberative to direct democracy). The relationship between democracy and citizenship is considered, as well as the relationship between democracy and pluralism of interests. The key issue is therefore the relationship between democracy and political participation. The main interpretations of the theme are addressed (theories, practices and actors of political participation). A section is devoted to the analysis of political parties, their characters and historical functions, their typologies and, overall, their transformations. A focus is dedicated to the social basis of political parties and the classic political families. Special attention is also paid to the organizational dimension and the crisis of the mass parties, with the recent construction of new party models such as hybrid parties or party-movements. An important part of the module is devoted to Social Movements and their historical role in the dynamics of social and political change. They are analyzed from the major schools and theoretical approaches (collective behavior, political process, resource mobilization, new social movements). Particular attention is paid both to the cognitive dimension (identity, symbols, frames) and the organizational dimension (social movement organizations, social networks, field theory, outcomes). Then the analysis focuses on the relationship between movements and institutional politics at local, national and transnational level and on the relationship between social movements and democratization. A specific section of the teaching module will be devoted to the analysis of the concept of populism and of the populist wave of the contemporary democracies.

Knowledge and skills to be aquired

Skills on collective action and social movement research

Teaching methods

Lecture with some experiments of participative teaching

Evaluation method

Oral exam and, if necessary, discussion on a term paper

Terms of reservation and dates of the exams

Students can reserve the exam just using the VOL system. 

Prof. Fabio de Nardis

Complesso Studium 2000, Edificio 5, stanza 35 [piano terra]

Tel: (+39) 0832 294867


Skype: fadena77


To pass the exam students will be asked to study three books (3 libri):


One book chosen from the following (1 testo a scelta tra i seguenti):

- Della Porta D. (2013), Can Democracy Be Saved?, Cambridge: Polity Press.

- Tilly Ch. (2007), Democracy, New York: Cambridge University Press.

- Tilly Ch. (2009), La Democrazia, Bologna: Il Mulino.


One book chosen from the following (1 testo a scelta tra i seguenti):

- Tilly Ch., S. Tarrow (2011), La politica del conflitto, Milano: Bruno Mondadori.

- Tilly Ch., S. Tarrow (2015), Contentious Politics, New York: Oxford University Press.


After that students will have to choose one book from one of the following thematic blocks

(Dopo di ciò gli studenti dovranno scegliere un testo da uno dei seguenti  tre blocchi tematici):


Block 1 – Social Movements (one book of these)

- Pilati K. (2018), Movimenti sociali e azioni di protesta, Bologna: Il Mulino.

- Della Porta D., M. Diani (2006), Social Movements, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

or (o)

Block 2 – Political Parties (one book of these)

- Della Porta D. (2015), I partiti politici, Bologna: Il Mulino.

- Della Porta D., J. Fernández, H. Kouki, and L. Mosca (2017), Movement Parties against Austerity, Cambridge: Polity Press.

or (o)

Block 3 - Populism  (one book of these)

- Anselmi M. (2018), Populism, New York: Routledge.

- Anselmi M. (2017), Populismo: teorie problemi, Milano: Mondadori Università.


In addition, the professor will make available articles and papers published in specialized journals or readers on the latest research outcomes about the three topics covered by the course.


First Semester (dal 01/10/2018 al 25/01/2019)

Exam type

Type of assessment
Oral - Final grade

Course timetable

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