Political Institutions and Decision-making

A.Y. 2020/2021
6
Max ECTS
40
Overall hours
SSD
SPS/04
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
A course aimed at giving analytical, methodological and interpretative skills for knowledge, understanding and analysis of decision making in institutional political arena, starting from theoretical and applied tools concerning with social theory (i.e. Rational Choice Theory and Social System Theory), comparative politics and positive political theory. After a primer introduction to the decision making theoretical models, the course will be focused on analysis of a few institutional arenas (electoral system, party system, parliament, government) of the Italian political system, which will be examined in synchronic and diachronic terms, mainly covering the following topics: origins, fundamental structures, evolutionary dynamics and critical junctures.
Expected learning outcomes
- Knowledge and Understanding: at the end of the course, the student will have got a set of analytical, methodological and interpretative skills, related to the contents and the outcomes of the decision making (actors, processes, outputs, outcomes, feedbacks, emergent effects, composition effects) in the main institutional arenas of a democratic polity. From a methodological point of view, these competences will be framed in a systematic knowledge of some tools of game theory and systems theory, more generally useful to diagnose the characteristics of decision-making within political institutions.
- Applying Knowledge and Learning Skills: the toolkit of game theory and systems theory we would have built lesson by lesson should allow the student to make analysis of the main decision-making processes concerning with the functioning of political and party systems by himself. The student will learn to examine the strategic interaction (cooperative or competitive) between parties, the dynamics leading the construction and approval of a law, the relations between parliament and the government in terms of majority and opposition, the relations among the political parties within a coalition government. The understanding of these processes will be combined with a relatively thorough knowledge of the functioning of the Italian political system.
- Communication Skills: the presentation and discussion of case studies in the classroom, should allow the student learning to communicate the contents and results of the analysis of a given political decision-making to several interlocutors, specialists and non-specialists ones.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second trimester
Delivery
The lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform and can be followed both synchronously, based on the ordinary lesson schedule, and asynchronously, as they will remain available to students on the same platform. Further teaching materials, to compensate the impossibility of holding lessons in person, will be available on the ARIEL platform.

Program and reference
The program and reference will not change.

Learning evaluation procedures and assessment criteria
The exam will take place in oral form, using the Microsoft Teams platform.
Course syllabus
The program consists of two Teaching Units (a-b), each of twenty hours.

Teaching Program - Unit (a)
The first Unit, with an introductory character, is dedicated to investigating the main theoretical paradigms in the analysis of decision-making processes and in the study of political and social institutions. Particular attention will be paid to the fundamental mechanisms of social behaviour, between constraints of compliance with social norms and freedom of action in terms of strategic rationality. First, the model of decision-making will be introduced in the perspective of the rational choice theory. We will then examine other variants of the theory of action, which have assumed differently qualified models of individual rationality, up to the paradigm of bounded rationality. Finally, neo-institutionalist theories and the theory of social systems will be introduced, integrating them with evolutionary approaches useful for the study of change.

Teaching Program - Unit (b)
The second Unit is dedicated to analyse the functioning of some institutional arenas (electoral system, party system, parliament, government) of the Italian political system, in its evolution from the origins of the Unitary state to the most recent years. The different stages of development of the Italian political system will be examined, focusing in particular on its evolution from the Second World War to the last general elections (2018): from the promulgation of the Italian republican Constitution, through the so-called "Parties' Republic", up to the unstable tripolarization that has characterized the most recent years. It will privilege the analysis of the actor behavior and the structural characteristics of the fundamental institutional framework, highlighting the anomalies and criticalities that have marked the historical experience of our country, from the origins of the Unitary state to the Republican constituent phase and until today.
Prerequisites for admission
A corse aimed at giving analytical, methodological and interpretative skills for knowledge, understanding and analysis of decision making in institutional political arena, starting from theoretical and applied tools concerning with social theory (i.e. Rational Choice Theory and Social System Theory), comparative politics and positive political theory. After a primer introduction to the decision making theoretical models, the course will be focused on analysis of a few institutional arenas (electoral system, party sistem, parliament, government) of the Italian political system, which will be examined in synchronic and diachronic terms, mainly covering the following topics: origins, fundamental structures, evolutionary dynamics and critical junctures.
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons, presentations by students, case studies, group discussions, also with the participation of testimonials from the political and institutional world. Teaching integration materials are available on the teacher's personal blog.

Expected learning outcomes:
a) Knowledge and Understanding: at the end of the course, the student will have got a set of analytical, methodological and interpretative skills, related to the contents and the outcomes of the decision making (actors, processes, outputs, outcomes, feedbacks, emergent effects, composition effects) in the main institutional arenas of a democratic polity. From a methodological point of view, these competences will be framed in a systematic knowledge of some tools of game theory and systems theory, more generally useful to diagnose the characteristics of decision-making within political institutions.

b) Applying Knowledge and Learning Skills: the toolkit of game theory and systems theory we would have built lesson by lesson should allow the student to make analysis of the main decision-making processes concerning with the functioning of political and party systems by himself. The student will learn to examine the strategic interaction (cooperative or competitive) between parties, the dynamics leading the construction and approval of a law, the relations between parliament and the government in terms of majority and opposition, the relations among the political parties within a coalition government. The understanding of these processes will be combined with a relatively thorough knowledge of the functioning of the Italian political system.

c) Communication Skills: the presentation and discussion of case studies in the classroom, should allow the student learning to communicate the contents and results of the analysis of a given political decision-making to several interlocutors, specialists and non-specialists ones.
Teaching Resources
Unit (a):
1- N. Addario e L.M. Fasano, La logica della società. Uno studio sul problema dell'ordine sociale, Egea Università Bocconi Editore, Milano 2012.

Unit (b):
1- N. Addario e L.M. Fasano, Il sistema politico italiano. Origini, evoluzione, struttura, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2019.
2- P. Martelli, L'istituzione del disordine. Regole del gioco e giocatori nella politica italiana dal 1946 al 2018, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 2018.

Recommended further readings:
- on rational choice theory and game theory:
a) F. Colombo, Introduzione alla teoria dei giochi, Carocci editore, Roma 2003.
b) S. Hargreaves Heap, M. Hollis, B.R. Lyons, R. Sugden, A. Weale, La teoria della scelta. Una guida critica, Laterza, Roma-Bari 1996.
c) E. Angner, Economia comportamentale. Guida alla teoria della scelta, Hoepli, Milano 2017.

- on social theory and political analysis:
a) A. Panebianco, L'automa e lo spirito. Azioni individuali, istituzioni, imprese collettive, il Mulino, Bologna 2009.
b) A. Panebianco, Persone e mondi. Azioni individuali e ordine internazionale, il Mulino, Bologna 2018, Prima parte: Teoria sociale.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral examination: a colloquium aimed at verifying the learning of analytical, methodological and interpretive skills to know and to manage the decision-making process for how it is carried out within the political institutions, mainly those of the Italian political system and its long term evolution.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor(s)
Reception:
Students can contact the teacher by e-mail or by chat on Microsoft Teams to arrange for day and reception hours on line. Please indicate as e-mail subject: "Student reception: MEETING REQUEST". Prefer Microsoft Teams chat if my undergraduates or students
Room 313 - SPS Department of Social and Political Science, 3rd Floor. During Covid-19 Emergency only for my undergraduates and by previous appointment.