EU447      Half Unit
Democracy, Ideology and the European State

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jonathan White COW 1.09


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in European Studies (Research), MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Political Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course investigates various ways in which the State's authority to act has been underpinned in Europe, both ideologically and institutionally, in the modern period. It looks at how the State has been used to give expression to the democratic principle, and the ways this has been undermined or rejected. The module aims to provide students with a deep analytical understanding of the changing role of the State in European society. There will be three parts: A) Theorising the political (including sessions on: the State; collective self-rule and the liberal-democratic compromise; ideology, public opinion and the idea of democracy), B) Democracy in post-War Europe (parties and the structuring of political conflict; the emergence and crisis of the Welfare State; 1968, 1989 and the rediscovery of 'civil society'), and C) Contemporary European trends (ideological convergence and the politics of risk and security; political participation and populism in western and post-Communist Europe; the challenge of transnational integration: 'governance', 'output legitimacy' and the diffusion of State power). The course will conclude with an overview on possible trajectories to come, under the heading 'post-ideological, post-democratic and post-statal? - Europe today and beyond'.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One 2,500 word unassessed essay

Indicative reading

Quentin Skinner (1989) 'The State', in Ball and Hanson (eds.) Political Innovation and Conceptual Change; Peter Wagner (2008) Modernity as Experience and Interpretation; James Tully (2002) 'The Unfreedom of the Moderns', Modern Law Review 63; Margaret Canovan (2005) The People; Michael Freeden (1996) Ideologies and Political Theory; Claus Offe (1996) Modernity and the State: East and West; Chantal Mouffe (2005) On the Political; Frank Furedi (2005) Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right; Nina Eliasoph (1998) Avoiding Politics; Peter Mair (2006), 'Ruling the Void? The Hollowing of Western Democracy', New Left Review 42; Jonathan White (2015), 'Emergency Europe', Political Studies 62 (2).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 30
Merit 61.7
Pass 8.3
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2015/16: 16

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 90%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)