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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2010

GOV 360N • Force and Politics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38910 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ 2.124
Wagner, R

Course Description

Stronger international institutions are often said to be the only reliable way of preventing wars among states. But the necessity of living under common political institutions frequently leads to civil war. This suggests a puzzle as to what the relation between political institutions and violent conflict really is. Discussions of this question are often hampered by the traditional division of intellectual labor between students of international politics and students of domestic politics, which is sometimes justified by the claim that domestic politics is politics within institutions while international politics is politics with no institutional constraints. The use of force, however, is common in both arenas, and the ever-present possibility of its use influences behavior in both arenas even when force itself is not being used.

This course will therefore focus directly on the use of force as one means by which individuals and groups seek to pursue their interests no matter what the context. We will investigate how force is used, what it can be used for, and what determines whether it is used or not. We will also consider how people organize themselves for the use of force, what effect that has on the political structure of the planet, and whether and how political structures can restrict the use of force. Thus we will be interested in examining institutional restraints on the use of force on the one hand, and autocracy, coups d'etat, riots, revolutions, and civil and international wars on the other.

Grading Policy

Approximately 12 written essays; a minimum of 2 pages each


Several books plus a course packet


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