Political Sociology

Course Provider: Dr Stephen Fisher


To introduce students to advanced research in political sociology and to prepare students for doctoral research in this area. The course encourages students to become familiar with and capable of engaging with the current research issues and debates in the field. So the reading list is designed to include a selection of the most important texts and a more comprehensive list of the most recent research from the top journals and publishers. The reading list is available from the course provider on request.

The paper covers research on the social bases of politics, such as the roles of class, religion, gender and ethnicity; the factors affecting political behaviour such as protest participation, electoral turnout and vote choice; how citizens relate to the political process, including political culture and the effects of the media; how social and political identities and attitudes are formed and how they change.

By the end of this course, students should:
· be familiar with empirical research in political sociology, the technical tools used, and the empirical results obtained;
· be skilled in critiquing research in the area on both theoretical and empirical grounds;
· be prepared to undertake doctoral research in this area.

There will be eight classes in Hilary term. Students will be expected to make at least one and up to three presentations and write three essays. These will be opportunities to receive feedback on ideas and arguments from the course provider and other students. Students are expected to engage constructively in the discussions on all the topics covered in classes. The class is only open to those doing the formal exam, since there is not usually room for ‘auditors’.

The formal assessment is by a traditional three-hour unseen examination for which candidates have to answer three questions.

There are no core texts for the course. Readings overlap very little between topics. However, the following provide some helpful background reading.

  • Clemens, Elizabeth S. (2016) What is Political Sociology? Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Crouch, C. (1999). Social Change in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. HN373.5.CRO
  • Dalton, R. (2014). Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies (6th edition). Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
  • Dalton, R. and H.D. Klingemann, (eds) (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.