Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2000

Parliamentary Democracy

Main discipline: Political Science
Lecturer: Professor Kaare Strøm,
University of California, San Diego, USA

Course description
The purpose of this course will be to familiarize students with ongoing research on the institutions and political processes of parliamentary democracy. The course will develop and apply a conception of parliamentary democracy as a chain of delegation, from voters all the way to those who ultimately implement public policy. The focus will be on contemporary advanced democracies, especially Western Europe.

Special attention will be given to the role of political parties in the parliamentary chain of delegation. A focal point of the course will be applications of rational choice theory, such as agency theory and coalition theory, to the study of parliamentary democracy. Specific topics will include legislative design and procedure, the organization and strategy of political parties, cabinet coalitions, and the operation of parliamentary government.

The course will assume some basic familiarity with rational choice models, but no mathematical training. Lectures will focus on applications rather than formal proofs and representation. The readings will in large part be drawn from the contemporary research literature, including both books and journal articles.

Basic readings

The lecturer
Kaare Strøm (Ph.D. Stanford University, 1984) is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He has previously taught at Michigan State University, the University of Bergen, and the University of Minnesota. His research interests are in the fields of political parties, government coalitions and parliamentary democracy.

Strøm's publications include Minority Government and Majority Rule (Cambridge University Press, 1990), Challenges to Political Parties: The Case of Norway (with Lars Svaasand; University of Michigan Press, 1997), and numerous articles in such scholarly journals as The American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science and European Journal of Political Research. In 1994, he received UNESCO's sixth Stein Rokkan Prize in Comparative Social Science Research. He is a fellow of the Norwegian Academcy of Science and Letters and a current member of the editorial boards of The American Political Science Review and the European Journal of Political Research.