Spring 2020 - POL 121 D100

Political Engagement: From the Streets to the Ballot Box (3)

Class Number: 5195

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 22, 2020
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    BLU 9660, Burnaby



An introduction to political action and behaviour. Politics involves the struggle for power and influence. Nowhere is this more evident than when individuals mobilize and engage in political action, whether in a revolution to overthrow an authoritarian regime, protesting on the street against the government, or voting on Election Day. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


This course gives students the tools to understand political participation, and to be an engaged citizen. To that end, we answer a number of broad questions related to crucial aspects of political behaviour and citizenship. How do citizens participate, and what are some of the major changes that have recently transpired in terms of citizens' (and non-citizens') engagement with their governments? Why have these changes taken place? In particular, we will be investigating contemporary political phenomena including explanations for voter turnout and its decline, the rise of protest politics, and the spread of online engagement.  

Likewise, we will look at variations in participation across countries, and across types of engagement. Why does political participation and engagement look so different in various parts of the world? For example, why have large-scale anti-system demonstrations appeared in some countries and not others in recent years? To answer this question, we will be investigating some of the legal, social, and cultural factors that provide the opportunities and constraints for political engagement.  

The two hours of class time will include a mixture of lecture, group discussions, in-class assignments and audio-visual content.  

By the conclusion of the course, students will have the tools both to understand different types of political engagement, and to themselves be active citizens in their polity.


  • Lecture and tutorial participation 10%
  • Critical essay 15%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Major paper outline 5%
  • Major paper 25%
  • Final exam 25%



Dalton, Russell J. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies - Seventh Edition. CQ Press: Washington DC, 2019. ISBN-13: 978-1544351780
ISBN: 978-1544351780

Additional readings will be available on the course website.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html