The Institute of Political Science covers the following subject areas:
The entire spectrum of Political Theory is found at the institute both in research and teaching. It is made up, on the one hand, of classic texts from the history of political thought besides the fundamental categories of social scientific reflection (e.g. power, state, law, force, democracy and revolution); on the other hand it deals with specific phenomena and processes (e.g. exclusion, loss of democracy, representation) whereby a theory-driven and contemporary political science can aid analysis and criticism. The portrayal of the transforming, past and present forms and practices of statehood, government and democracy, and the explication of the conditions under which (political and social) orders are constituted, contested and also fall back into ruin are two of the subject area’s main interests and are also associated with the research profile area “Contested Order”. The simple and rather general question of how politics is “done” thus lies at the heart of the entire subject area.
The Chair for International Relations was established in 1992. In terms of the study programme, the chair assumes that in today’s globalised era, not only the ability to survive but also a heightened significance of International Relations ensues as a subfield of political science. As national borders have opened up, International Relations are transforming into International Politics. In this regard, International Politics are viewed not only in the interstate and transnational sphere, but also in national contexts. They cannot be defined without international political economics being taken as a basis. Globalisation urges International Politics to strive after “big theories”, which are so comprehensive in their need to be explained that they go beyond traditional International Relations theories and bind them together with other theories, e.g. transformation, peace, conflict and development theories. It is possible to bridge the gaps between the meta-theories of International Politics – rationalism and constructivism – as well as between micro-, meso- and macro-level analyses. International Politics in Leipzig builds on a high level of knowledge related to various areas of the world, a balanced connection between empiricism and theory, and rigorously applied qualitative methodology. Against this backdrop, research activities associated with the chair are concentrated on politico-economic analyses of International Politics, peace, conflict, violence, transformation and regionalism besides learning from organisations. Empirically, the focus is placed here on the “global south” (in this case with special attention given to El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Jamaica, Algeria and India) as well as South East European transition countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia.
The Political System of the Federal Republic of Germany/European Politics subject area researches into and teaches about parties and systems as well as the emergence and development of political institutions. Within the scope of the Jean Monnet Chair, special attention is given to matters pertaining to Europe. The strategic behaviour of collective key players within certain institutional configurations, the transformation of political systems and the relationship between the EU and national processes in the member states are all examined by looking at one central question – the causal interdependence of institutions, key players and context. Empirical focus areas cover the political system in Germany and the federal states – including Saxony – in due consideration of German Unity, Europe and, in particular, East and East Central European countries. The subject area also brings together expertise on parties and federalism. Single-case studies, monochronic and diachronic comparison and activity analyses are methodically conducted which, depending on the matter at hand, are supported by document analyses, individual and group interviews, quantitative analyses and participant observation.
In terms of both teaching and research, Multilevel Governance looks at governance both within and beyond the nation state. By contrast with the traditional understanding of governance, the concept of multilevel governance is concerned not only with players within the political system; it also encompasses NGOs, expert committees and new ways of governing. The various arenas and levels mutually influence each other within the European and national multilevel systems. Compared with Unitarian structures, the players have more or fewer ways of influencing political decisions and their implementation, depending on the policy area and process being examined. These distinctive features of multilevel governance form the subject of a theory-driven scientific analysis. Special focus is placed on the EU multilevel system as well as social, economic and employment policies. Analytically and conceptually, we take approaches centred around players and structures that can be adapted as a general theoretical framework for qualitative and quantitative research.
The study programme for teachers is the responsibility of all the departments that make up the Institute of Political Science. However, specific requirements apply to the Teaching Methodology subject area which emerge from the interface between the scientific discipline and educational theory. Here, students are taught the basic principles of social studies didactics on the one hand and are encouraged to reflect on the content and function of political education and on the relationship between school and society (e.g. using advanced approaches of contemporary political theory) on the other.
The teaching methodology subject area is generally designed in a way that enables students to acquire solid specialist knowledge and that asserts the connection between theory and practice through the inclusion of student experiences from practical school training. By building on projects from previous years (on anti-discrimination education and discourse on political apathy), research concepts also emerge that are specifically linked to students’ teaching positions, involving, among other things, the political insights of social studies teachers.
In the summer semester, the Institute of Communication and Media Studies holds two seminars on political communication topics that are specially designed for students from the Institute of Political Science. Teaching activities also include the supervision of theses that emerge out of such teaching events. Students of political science may complete the “Communication and Media Studies” elective (30 credits), which highlights different aspects of political communication issues, e.g. as presently discussed in “Political Communication” and “International Media Policy” lectures. The Institute of Communication and Media Studies is also involved in coordinating teaching and academic autonomy at the Institute of Political Science. The Communication Management professorship acts as a go-between here. The holder of this professorship is a point of contact for tutors, students, the student office and the examination board at the Institute of Political Science. His or her role includes initiating and coordinating thematically relevant joint research projects between the two institutes on behalf of the Institute of Communication and Media Studies.