Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Democracy and crisis of democracy in the national state and in global relations
Democrazia e crisi della democrazia nello Stato nazionale e nelle relazioni globali

A.Y. Credits
2021/2022 5
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Giuseppe Stefano Azzarà Monday and Tuesday h. 13-14.

Assigned to the Degree Course

Educational Sciences (L-19)
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

Does the national state still exists? And is it still inscribed in a democratic setting? What does democracy mean? Is it possible a democracy between nations? The road that led to the affirmation of modern democracy has been long and troubled. It is the result of overcoming three major discrimination - that of class, that of gender, that of race or ethnicity - and has developed in the constant comparison between the liberal tradition and the radical and socialist one. Imperfect and unfinished, it entered a crisis when the leap from an almost exclusively national dimension to a supranational horizon had not yet been completed, despite the lessons linked to the catastrophes of the two world wars. What happens today in the European Union - a stage of a centuries-old path of continental convergence - and in the relationships of power between geopolitical areas in a world in the midst of a contradictory globalization, offers in this sense considerable food for thought. In particular, the emergence of populist movements and the unmaneware of the "clash of civilization" and the comparison between different models of statuates, presented mostly as the alternative between liberal democracies and authoritarian states, stand out as urgent problems to understand.

The student will have to understand the complexity of the historical processes that characterized the political-social conflict within the nations and the international conflict in the 19th and 20th centuries, in order to understand the context of the affirmation and the decline of modern democracy and the axes political orientation of the contemporary cultural debate.

It therefore proposes the following educational objectives:

- help students understand the fundamental concepts of contemporary political philosophy (modern / antimodern / postmodern; emancipation / de-emancipation; progress; freedom; equality; totality / immediacy ...);

- help them understand the complexity of the historical movement and its origin in the conflict between social classes;

- to help them understand the right / left oppositions, particularism / universalism, and the way in which they condition the formation of modern democracy and its crisis;

- to help them orient themselves in the contemporary political-cultural context starting from the theoretical elements learned (the subsequent inevitable changes of each philosophical-political nucleus over time) and from their application to today's communication contexts (TV, newspapers, social networks).


1) Democracy and modern democracy
2) Social classes and political-social conflict
3) The stages of modern democracy
4) Modern democracy, socialism, Marxism
5) Crisis of Marxism and real socialism
6) "Populism" and "souverainism
7) Historical transformations and crisis of modern democracy
8) The problem of democracy on a supranational scale
9) Globalization and imperialism
10) European convergence
11) Crisis of universalistic dynamics
12) Lessons of the past for the present

Bridging Courses


Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

In relation to the discipline and its specificities, the student must show:

Knowledge and understanding:
- Knowledge of the fundamental themes of the history of political philosophy exposed in class and deepened in the textbooks and understanding of its fundamental concepts (see the learning objectives);
- Knowledge of the historical and socio-political dynamics of the contemporary age exposed in class and deepened in the textbooks and understanding of the processes that innervated them;
- Understanding of the building blocks of modern democracy and of the left / right and top / bottom axes;

Applied knowledge and understanding:
- Ability to orientate oneself in contemporary political debate and to understand the elements that today can strengthen or further weaken modern democracy.

Making judgments:
- Ability to take an autonomous position with respect to the main historical-political issues of debate and contemporary conflicts (eg centralization and spectacularisation of power; migration; "conflicts of civilization", etc. etc.).

Communication skills:
Ability to communicate what has been learned in the appropriate forms for a university-level study; ability to transmit and communicate the fundamental aspects and principles of democratic politics (link freedom / equality and couple recognition / exclusion in the first place) also in basic educational work.

Ability to learn
- Based on the knowledge acquired through the course, the student must be able to independently build in-depth courses and understand which readings and experiences can help him in this regard.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Supporting Activities

Seminar by dr. Emiliano Alessandroni (10 hours)

Didactics, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


Frontal lessons and seminar.


At the beginning of the course a verification of the initial preparation of the students inherent to the main historical-philosophical problems will be carried out. On this basis, students will attend an intensive seminar to strengthen their skills.

Course books

- Stefano G. Azzarà: Democrazia cercasi, Imprimatur, Reggio Emilia 2014: pp. 25-215.

- Stefano G. Azzarà: Nonostante Laclau. Populismo ed egemonia nella crisi della democrazia moderna, Mimesis, Milano 2017.

- Emiliano Alessandroni: Dittature democratiche e democrazie dittatoriali, Carocci, Roma 2021 (the parts to be studied will be indicated in the first days of lessons and on blended platform).


The exam aims to assess the student's understanding and knowledge with respect to the educational objectives of the course and his ability to present them in a reasoned way: it will therefore be an oral exam.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


Non-attending students will have to support the same program as attending students, helping in particular with the materials available on the Moodle platform and coordinating with the teacher and his assistants.



Course books

As for attending students.

- Stefano G. Azzarà: Democrazia cercasi, Imprimatur, Reggio Emilia 2014: pp. 25-215.

- Stefano G. Azzarà: Nonostante Laclau. Populismo ed egemonia nella crisi della democrazia moderna, Mimesis, Milano 2017.

- Emiliano Alessandroni: Dittature democratiche e democrazie dittatoriali, Carocci, Roma 2021 (le parti da studiare verranno indicate nei primi giorni di lezione e su piattaforma Blended).


As for attending students. For non-attending, the assessment will refer exclusively to the texts indicated in the educational program. Getting the notes of the lessons is useful to their understanding.

« back Last update: 07/09/2021


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