12006 Selected Problems in the History of Western Democracies 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Democracy Studies / History, Education and Citizenship

Prerequisites: Two of the following: Democracy: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Israeli Democracy: Selected Issues, Contemporary Democratic Theories, and exemption from bibliographic assignments on computer searches in the “Alef” catalog and databases.

The course is based on a reader edited by Avner Halpern, Yair Seltenreich and Amira Gelblum.

The course presents the historical background of the development of democratic regimes in the Western world, from the British, American and French revolutions up to World War I. The course examines the influence of nationalism, liberalism, socialism, industrialization, modernization, politicization processes, mass movements and the creation of a civil society on the development of Western democracies, as well as the effect of time and environmental factors on the development of democracy. The course focuses primarily on three research settings: England, America and France, together with Germany, where democracy became established only after World War II.

Topics: The extent to which the roots of modern democratic regimes can be found in the pre-modern era; The revolutions that shaped the character of modern democracy; The structural development of democracy (governmental institutions, constitutions); The development of democratic dynamics (elections, public participation) and the possible reasons for the variance in processes and outcomes; Factors which helped or hindered the development of democratic regimes in different places and periods; The interaction between the development of a democratic regime and the exclusion of social groups (women, blacks, those lacking property); The development of the concept of ‘modern democracy’; What led the political change?; The relation between the industrial revolution and the political revolution.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.