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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Comparative Political Behavior

Teaching Winter Semester 2020/21

In the winter semester 2020/21 we offer the following courses:

Master's Programme Social Sciences


Heike Klüver:

Interest groups, lobbying and policy change

The major objective of interest groups is to influence policy-making. Interest groups lobby decision-makers in order to shape political decisions in their favor. In order to understand the outcome of the policy-making process, it is crucial to take into account interest group pressure. In this seminar, we will therefore study the role of interest groups in Western democracies by investigating their mobilization, their lobbying strategies and their impact on policy decisions. The seminar covers a wide range of actors such as business groups, trade unions and non-governmental organizations and it sheds light on how these interest groups lobby decision-makers in a variety of selected countries. Students will be introduced to the theories of interest representation and they will get an overview of empirical studies of interest group lobbying across different policy areas and countries. Students will learn how to craft their own research project to study interest group influence on policy-making employing cutting-edge research methods such as quantitative text analysis and causal inference. As the course is focused on quantitative empirical research, having advanced statistical training is advised. Familiarity with the statistical software package R is recommended.

Research Seminar Demography, Democracy and Public Policy
Forschungsseminar: Politisches Verhalten im Vergleich

Bachelor's Programme Social Sciences



Felix Hartmann:

Electoral Accountability: A Course in Applied Causal Inference


A central normative justification for representative democracy is that elections are a means for citizens to exercise control over the actions of their representatives. In this course we will examine to what extent and under what conditions elections give citizens control over their leaders. The seminar will combine a methodological session introducing a causal inference method with a substantive session introducing students to the basic concepts, theoretical frameworks, and recent papers from the field of electoral accountability.


Tim Wappenhans:

Voters and Voting in the U.S.


This course aims at putting the 2020 U.S. elections in comparative and historic perspective. Students will be introduced to central theories of voting behavior, prominent empirical analyses of U.S. politics as well as important comparative studies. The course will be divided into three parts. The first is focused on acquiring a foundational knowledge of key theories of political behavior like the sociological and spatial models of voting. The second part will make use of that knowledge in order to explain political behavior in the U.S. In this main section, we will analyze the most important developments dominating U.S. politics such as the increase of negative partisanship and affective polarization. The final part puts the U.S. experience in a broader comparative perspective. Here, we will look at the transformation of the political space, the role of the media and the rise of the radical right. By the end, students will be familiar with key concepts in the comparative study of political behavior as well as with an analytical understanding of U.S. politics.


Anthea Alberto:

Coalition Governments: Formation, Governance and Stability


Coalition governments are a staple of European democracies and have therefore received consid-erable academic attention. This course attempts to give students an insight into coalition research and answer questions about a coalition’s formation, its governance and stability. The seminar is therefore structured along the so-called coalition life cycle. First, we will look at how coalitions form and which parties are more likely to enter into multiparty governments. Next, we will cover coalition governance and policy-making. We will also examine whether parties can attain their policy goals within the confines of a coalition government. The last part is concerned with coalition stability and duration, with one class devoted to potential electoral consequences of having been part of a multiparty government.


Heike Klüver:

Forschungsseminar: Politisches Verhalten im Vergleich