This is the second edition of a successful textbook for introductory university courses of political science, comparative politics, west-european politics. Each chapter focuses on a main political actor or institution, including main regimes, political participation, groups, social movements, parties, representative institutions, multilevel governance. Each chapter briefly defines the concept, offers a historical account of the evolution of each specific actor or institution, distinguishes the main forms that actor or institution takes, summarizes the main approaches. Although referring also to non-democratic regimes and transition to democracies, the volume deals in particular with contemporary democracies, focusing on the main challenges they have to face nowadays. The book is rich in illustrations in particular drawn from research on Western Europe and the USA, but also covers the most recent debates on the effect of globalization in the Southern part of the globe. Particular attention is paid to new forms of political participation, conceptions of polics "from below", emerging polities at both the local and sovranational level. The author’s direct experiences in the Italian, German, French and American academias as well as crossnational research on various European countries are reflected in the attempt at blending the different contemporary cultural traditions with the "classics" in political science.
Contents: Preface - 1. Between State and power: What is politics - 2. Between freedom and rights: What is democracy - 3. Between interest and identity: What is political participation - 4. Between private interests and public goods: What are groups and social movements - 5. Between activism and bureaucratization: What are parties - 6. Between majority and consensus: What are representative institutions - 7. Between local and global: What is multilevel governance - Bibliography.
Donatella della Porta is Professor of is professor of Sociology in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute in Florence.