This is a cross-listed course, Political Science 332 and History 321, on the contemporary history, government and politics of the Scandinavian or Nordic countries. Specifically we shall look at the "three kingdoms:" Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and to a lesser extent Finland and Iceland. These small countries present alternative and successful examples of democratic politics in advanced industrial societies. Their small scale and openness allow detailed investigation of the dynamics of pluralist politics and policy.
Scandinavian history and politics has attracted foreign attention because of three main characteristics: the establishment of political democracy without revolution (Finland being a partial exception), the construction of an elaborate "welfare state" which assures a high degree of economic and social equality but which demands very heavy taxation, and the evolution of a complex and multifaceted party and interest group system. Although dominated by Social Democratic (Labor) parties for most of the past sixty years, Scandinavian politics have in recent years become volatile. Some observers suggest that the Scandinavian experience demonstrates the possibilities of combining pragmatically the "best" aspects of democracy and efficient administration, capitalism and socialism, and social security and opportunity: an ideal "middle way." Others argue that Scandinavian achievements have been exaggerated and that future problems will be formidable.
After a brief historical look at the origins of the Scandinavian states, we shall look at how Scandinavian politics has evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries, the political, economic, and social institutions that drive it today, and current problems, as well as prospects for the immediate future. Although mainly concerned with domestic politics, we shall nevertheless consider international and regional political forces that affect Scandinavia. In sum, we shall ask whether there is a "Scandinavian Model" of political democracy, economic efficiency, and social justice. What are the prospects of such a model to other advanced industrial societies?
Course procedures: The size of the class and the subject matter should encourage an informal "lecture-discussion" format. Material will be presented in class that is not fully covered in the required readings. Students are responsible for all information presented in class and for course changes announced.
Course requirements: Midterm hour examination and final examination based on readings, lectures, and class discussions. Students will do a book review essay (up to 2000 words) following instructions noted below.
Grades will be determined by 4 factors: mid-term exam (25%), book review (25%), final exam (40%), class participation (10%).
Prerequisites: Introductory course in European or comparative politics (equiv. to Pol. Sci. 111) or a course in modern European history is recommended.
Readings and Texts: We will use three "types" of readings: assigned texts, reserve readings in the University library, and "hand-outs" of charts, etc. Available in the Textbook Annex: (paper editions)
Einhorn & Logue, Modern Welfare States; Politics and Policy in Social Democratic Scandinavia. Abbreviated below as "E & L:"
Derry, T. K. A History of Scandinavia.
There will be a substantial number of reserve readings listed below as RV. There will also be handouts distributed as class discussion or new material direct. They will normally be distributed in class at the beginning of a section. It is your responsibility to make certain you have received the hand-outs. There are no duplicates, so if you misplace a piece make another copy from library reserve or a friend.
Below is a list of the course topics and the required readings. The dates are a rough guide to the amount of time for each topic. Some flexibility is possible in response to class interest. Please note the scheduled hour examination and due dates for the book review essays.
Book Review Essay: Each student will write an essay of up to 1,500 words (5-6 typed pages) reviewing a book concerned with Scandinavian history, society, or politics broadly defined. None of the assigned readings, of course, may be used as the book, but in comparing and contrasting the perspective of the book select, reference may be made to the assigned readings. You should choose a book of at least 150 pages relevant to a topic in this course. You may want to start with the books listed in the extensive bibliography at the end of the Derry (pp. 426-31) or Einhorn and Logue (pp. 315-28). The library catalogue (by subject) can give you additional titles.