Contemporary Political Theory – University of Copenhagen

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Contemporary Political Theory (15 ECTS)

What is a just society? Do contemporary political institutions discipline or emancipate citizens? Does contemporary society privilege some groups at the cost of others? What should a critical social theory focus on in today's world? Which principles or norms, if any, should we employ to evaluate our political institutions? Is democracy possible in the contemporary world?

These are some of the questions that are discussed in contemporary political theory. In this seminar, we will read and closely study some of the most important books published in political theory since the 1970s – books by John Rawls, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, and Judith Butler. We focus on a few works in order to be able to go into depth with some very important, influential, and difficult theories. Everyone working in political theory must know the selected political theorists or philosophers, both because they are widely discussed and because they are great thinkers. By reading their works, the student will attain a solid understanding of some of the most important concepts and issues in contemporary political theory, as well as a deeper understanding of some of the great challenges we face in the contemporary world.

Contemporary Political Theory is a 15 ECTS seminar that meets for 4 hours each week during the semester. The seminar is required for students enrolled in the Specialization in Political Theory.


Readings may include:

Butler, Bodies That Matter

Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy.

Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

Rawls, A Theory of Justice.