Department of Political Science

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POSC 334/434

Department of Political Science
Case Western Reserve University

Fall 2005

Dr. Vincent McHale

POSC 334/434

Mather House #223

VIOLENCE AND THE POLITICAL SYSTEM

This course is designed to investigate various theoretical and descriptive perspectives on political violence. Our principal objective in this course is to cast the phenomenon of political violence into a clear perspective, by attempting to construct several analytical frameworks for a systematic understanding of the problem. Discussion will center on historical and contemporary scholarship which has analyzed and interpreted the use of violence for political ends.

The course will be organized around three major components: (1) theories regarding the conditions and processes that have been hypothesized to cause or mediate political violence; (2) attempts to discover and categorize patterns of political violence in the “real world”; and (3) systematic attempts to apply particular theoretical perspectives in selected “real world” contexts.

REQUIREMENTS:

There will be a midterm and final examination on the dates specified in the syllabus. Both exams will be primarily essay in nature, drawing on the class lectures, research projects, and assigned reading material. Each student will also prepare three (3) brief (5 to 7 pages) research papers. The paper assignments will vary in content and will be staggered throughout the semester. The details of each assignment will be described in separate class handouts. Due dates for each assignment are noted in the syllabus.

ATTENDANCE:

Regular class attendance and participation in class discussion are expected. Attendance will be monitored with a “sign-in” sheet for each class. Since the lectures will be largely independent of the reading, it will be difficult, if not impossible for students to master the subject matter without regular class attendance. Students will more than three (3) unexcused absences will have their final course grade reduced by one letter grade. Even where absences are excused, an unusual number of class absences (e.g., over 7) will result in a grade reduction. There will be no exceptions to this policy. The final course grade will be based on the following weighted distribution:

Class attendance and participation (10%)
Midterm examination (30%)
Research papers (30% — 10% for each paper)
Final examination (30%)

ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:

Academic dishonesty (plagiarism, cheating on examinations, etc.) is a serious offense that can result in loss of credit, suspension, and possibly expulsion from the university. All suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

OFFICE HOURS:

Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor in a timely manner regarding any problem they might be having in the course. This can be done on a “walk-in” basis during regular office hours (Monday and Wednesday, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or by making an appointment via email (vem). Telephone messages may also be left on x.2425.

IMPORTANT DATES:

A monthly calendar of lecture topics and other relevant information pertaining to the class will be provided to each student on a timely basis.

First class meeting …………………………… August 29th
Labr Day holiday …………………………….. September 5th (NO CLASS)
Last day for drop/add ………………… September 9th
Paper #1 due …………………………………….. October 3rd (tentative)
Midterm examination ……………………… October 17th
Midterm grades due …………………………… October 24th
Fall break …………………………………….. October 24 – 25th (NO CLASS)
Paper #2 due …………………………………… November 7th (tentative)
Last day to withdraw………………………….. November 11th
Thanksgiving holiday …………………… November 24-25th (NO CLASS)
Paper #3 due …………………………………… December 9th
Last class ………………………………………. December 9th
Final examination …………………………….. December 19th (12:30 – 3:30 p.m.)

TEXTS AND READING MATERIALS:

{ Jerzy Kosinski, The Painted Bird. This book will be read throughout the semester and will be the subject of one major question on the final examination.. Students are encouraged to locate personal copies in local bookstores. The 1995 edition (preferred) is available at Amazon.Com.
{ John G. Stoessinger, Why Nations Go to War (7th edition).
{ Walter Laqueur, The New Terrorism.
{ Violence and Terrorism – Annual Editions 05/06

READINGS ON RESERVE (Kelvin Smith Library Reserve Desk):

Additional readings for each major section of the course will be announced in class. Non-text materials will be placed on reserve at the Kelvin Smith Library desk

MISCELLANEOUS REFERENCES:

Definitions of terms and concepts used in the class lectures and readings can be found in Jack C. Plano, The Dictionary of Political Analysis, 2nd edition (1982; JA61.P57), or Carl Beck, Political Science Thesaurus II, 2nd edition (1979; Z695.1.P63./B4). Both volumes are located in the reference section of the Kelvin Smith Library.

Students are encouraged to investigate various web sites (e.g., terrorists sites, violent political groups, US State Department warnings, etc.) to gain additional familiarity and insights regarding violent political actors worldwide.

Several handouts (calendars, notes, charts, graphs, etc.) will be distributed in class. Students are responsible for obtaining all class handouts even when absent from class.

LECTURE TOPICS AND READING ASSIGNMENTS

1. THE STUDY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

Political violence defined
Scope of political violence historically
Political violence: characteristics and typologies
Modes of conflict, opposition, and protest
Causes of political violence: assumptions, arguments, theories, fallacies

Readings: Kosinski (begin reading)
Annual Editions, Unit 1
*Brown, Violence in America

*Items marked with an asterisk are optional.

2. FORCE, VIOLENCE, ORDER, AND THE LIBERAL STATE: SOME PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENTS

The liberal tradition in political philosophy
The bases of political obligation
The rule of law; the rule of force
Civil disobedience
Vulnerabilities of liberal societies

Readings: Kosinski (continue reading)
Annual Editions, Unit 2

3. JUSTIFICATION AND RHETORIC OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

Moral justifications
Instrumental and “democratic” violence
The philosophy of terror
Ideologies and belief systems

Readings: Kosinski (continue reading)
*Grundy and Weinstein, Ideologies of Violence, chaps. 2, 3, and 5
Annual Editions, Unit 8

4. CULTURAL EXPLANATIONS OF VIOLENCE

Violence as problem-solving
Violence as ritualistic behavior
Public opinion – attitudes toward violence
The acceptance of cultural diversity regarding violent political behavior

Readings: Kosinski (finish reading, if possible)
Annual Editions, Units 5 and 9
*Lynn, Violence in America

5. THE DYNAMICS OF COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE

The components of collective action
Interests, organization, and mobilization
Repression and facilitation
Repertoires of collective action
Changing contexts for collective violence

Readings: Tilly, Violence in America
Stoessinger (begin reading)
Annual Editions, Units 3 and 7

********** MIDTERM EXAMINATION **********
(October 17th)

6. REVOLUTIONS AND REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE

Revolutionary situations and revolutionary outcomes
Causes of revolutionary situations
Revolutionary sequences and collective violence

Readings: Greene, Comparative Revolutionary Movements, chaps. 1-3
Stoessinger (continue reading)

7. INSURGENCY AND INTERNAL WARFARE

Readings: O’Neil et al., Insurgency in the Modern World, chaps. 1, 2, and 9
Stoessinger (continue reading)

8. THE PHENOMENON OF WAR

Readings: Wright, A Study of War, chaps. 1 and 2
Stoessinger (finish)

9. TERRORISM

Terror and terrorism: concepts, characteristics, typology
The roots of terrorism
Terrorist strategy and tactics
The hijacking/kidnapping/hostage problem
Diplomatic kidnappings and attacks
Barricade and hostage situations
Modern terrorist organizations – profiles
General countermeasures against international terrorism

Readings: Laqueur, The New Terrorism (entire volume)
Annual Editions, Units 6, 10, and 11

10. ESTABLISHMENT AND STATE-SPONSORED VIOLENCE

Political crime and torture in history
The coup d’état – spontaneous or induced
Genocide and ethnic cleansing
State-sponsored international terrorism

Readings: *Rummel, Death by Government (scan)
Annual Editions, Unit 4

11. POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND CRIMINALITY

Readings: *Gurr, Rogues, Rebels, and Reformers, chap. 2
(Handout)

12. POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND PUBLIC POLICY

Readings: Annual Editions, Unit 12

******** FINAL EXAMINATION, December 19th, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. *******

 

Page last modified: February 9, 2015