Capitalism vs. Communism: Social Democracy

Charles University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Capitalism vs. Communism: Social Democracy

  • Host University

    Charles University

  • Location

    Prague, Czech Republic

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Government, International Affairs, International Politics, International Studies, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    The course will examine the dichotomy between the two predominant forms of state organization and markets, i.e., capitalism and communism throughout the 20th century. Although the concepts have their economic facets, the primary perspective pursued in the course is that of political science. The course integrates two strands of political science: political theory (political philosophy), and comparative (empirical) politics. In the course we will discuss different meanings and interpretations of the concepts, which are used in different contexts across time and space. Capitalism and communism have contrasting understanding of democracy, which is another important issue analyzed in the course. The theoretical background is completed with many empirical examples.

    The course will focus on the Soviet ideological division of the world into the communist east and capitalist west, and its distorted teaching of economic development applied to the former Warsaw Bloc countries (notably Czechoslovakia). The political movement known as social democracy (that originated in 19th socialist movement) sought compromise between the two contrasting ideologies through state regulation and social reforms aimed at adjusting inadequacies of the capitalist regime. Over the course of the semester the students will become familiar with the theories and their diverse historical applications in various countries.
    The aim of the course is to present various approaches to the concepts of capitalism, communism and social democracy, and show that the concepts continue to be important and influential today, notably in relation to the understanding of democracy. Most political struggles in contemporary democratic and even non-democratic states of today embodied by left-wing and right-wing parties have roots in the fundamentally different perspectives on the ideal form of organization of society, economy and state. Students will be able to understand these concepts and their various meanings, and analyze and interpret them in various contexts.