Playing Politics. Playing Games for the Practical Experience of Rational Choice Theoretical Concepts according to Michael Laver
Europe-University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany
Seminar for BA and MA
Grades 3 | 6 ECTS
BA: Praxismodul / Sozialwissenschaftliche Vertiefung
MA (MASS, European Studies): Praxismodul / Modul Politik & Kultur/ Optionsmodul
Dates & Rooms
Block course Winter Semester 2018 – 2019
MON 5th November 2018 from 6 – 9pm Introductory session (mandatory), room AM 105
FRI 7th December — SUN 9th December 2018 from 10am-5pm (all mandatory), room HG 104
The purpose of the simulation game "Playing politics" is to show practical implications of rational choice and game theory. Politics are calculated and calculating interactions between self-interested political actors – individuals, politicians, political parties, pressure groups, national governments, and alliances of countries. The simulation game presents political action as simple games, disclosing imperfections and dilemmata, and exploring complexity of the "real" world in a playful atmosphere.
The theoretical-analytical part of the seminar focuses on rational choice theory, game theory and negotiation theory. Participants will elaborate on these models, select and develop an analytical focus and instrument in a first step. The second step is both, playing games and observing from a metalevel perspective – the group will be divided into sub-groups then. The third step is reflection on games and writing a paper.
Participants will develop their skills in reading and writing scientific texts, in asking good (not only scientific) questions, and joyfully improve their personal bargaining skills. They will investigate political sciences theories, and will experience how to do empirical research in a small scale – from planning to observation to interpretation.
Selection of Relevant References
Axelrod, Robert (2006): The Evolution of Cooperation. Revised ed., Basic Books: New York.
Davis, Morton D. (1997): Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction (Dover Books on Mathematics). Basic Books: New York.
Elster, Jon (2007): Explaining Social Behavior. More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, New York.
Fisher, Roger / Ury, William (2012): Getting to Yes: Negotiating an agreement without giving in. New edition, Random House Business Publ.: London.
Laver, Michael (1997): Playing Politics. The Nightmare Continues. Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York.
Laver, Michael (1997): Private Desires, Political Action: Invitation to the Politics of Rational Choice. Rev. ed., Sage Publications Ltd: London.
Olson, Mancur (2002): The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. 2nd printing with new preface and appendix (Harvard Economic Studies), Harvard University: Cambridge Massachusetts.
Schelling, Thomas C. (1990): The Strategy of Conflict. Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts, Reprint, Wiley Publ.: London.
Schelling, Thomas C. (2006): Micro Motives and Macro Behavior. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, London.
Tsebelis, George (2002): Veto Players. How Political Institutions Work. Russell Sage Foundation: New York / Princeton University Press: Princeton (NJ).
Preconditions for Participating in the Simulation Game
Curiousity for a different seminar format and playing games. Commitment for active participation, self responsibility and self organisation. Good command in English.
Students have to write a short motivational letter why they would like to participate on the simulation game, and to indicate whether they are BA-students or MA-students. Therefore, prior application is mandatory via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or with the contact form here. Deadline for sending motivation for participation is WED 31st October 2018. The winners will be informed in time.
Information on the Seminar
Students from both, Bachalor and Master degree are welcome. Differing requirements are taken into account by the lecturer.
All questions on seminar details and certificate/grade requirements will be discussed at the first session, on MON 5th November 2018 from 6 – 9pm. And, there will be given a short intro by the lecturer on the development of research designs for doing empirical research and on writing scientific texts (excerpts, assignments).
Certificate / Grading
Grading: 3 | 6 ECTS
Details on the prerequisites for a certificate are discussed at the first session on MON 5th November 2018.