Gerard Alexander

Gerard Alexander

Associate Professor
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Politics
Office location and address
S285 Gibson Hall
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Ph.D., Political Science, Columbia University

My research began with a focus on the conditions of democratic consolidation in advanced industrial countries, especially in Western Europe. My first book — The Sources of Democratic Consolidation (Cornell University Press, 2002) — argued that the key right-of-center political movements formed long-term commitments to democracy only when their political risks in democracy became relatively low as left agendas moderated across time. Variation in these risks was used to explain variation in conservative regime preferences and in regime outcomes in Europe’s five largest countries from the 1870’s France to 1980’s Spain.

This first research project also included two articles with related but distinct arguments. In the Journal of Theoretical Politics (2001), I argued that formal political institutions in democracy cannot create the degree of predictability needed for consolidation. In Comparative Political Studies (2002), I argue that non-formal social-structural characteristic of countries are more important causes of regime outcomes than the formal regime characteristics emphasized in prominent claims concerning the rule of law and “institutionalized uncertainty.” Related reasoning is the basis of an article in The National Interest, “The Authoritarian Illusion” (2004).

My current research concerns factors affecting the size and role of government in selected cases in Western Europe and also the United States, and how they influence conservative attempts at reform of welfare states.

PLCP 3110: The Politics of Western Europe
Credits: 3
Surveys political developments in selected Western European countries. Every two years, the course alternates between a focus on the historical development of European states and a focus on post-1945 developments in democratic stability, party systems, and political economy.
PLCP 3500: Special Topics in Comparative Politics
Credits: 3
Analysis of selected issues and concepts in comparative politics.
PLIR 4330: Perceptions of America Abroad
Credits: 3
September 11, 2001, brought heightened interest in how America is perceived abroad. This class examines competing theories of why states should care about how they are percieved by governments and populations in other countries, and then examines evidence concerning both elite and popular perceptions of the U.S. during the Cold War, in the 1990s, including inside Saddam Hussein's regime, and especially since 9/11 in several regions. Prerequisites: At least one course in PLIR.
PLCP 4500: Special Topics in Comparative Politics
Credits: 3
Intensive analysis of selected issues and concepts in comparative government. Prerequisite: One course in PLCP or instructor permission.
PLAP 4500: Special Topics in American Politics
Credits: 3
Investigates a selected issue in American government or American political development. Prerequisite: One course in PLAP or instructor permission.
PLCP 4990: Honors Core Seminar in Comparative Politics
Credits: 9
A critical analysis of important issues and works in comparative politics from diverse perspectives. Students are required to write weekly analytical essays and actively participate in small seminar discussions on issues including: democratic and authoritarian regimes, political economy of development, and ethnic and religious conflict. Prerequisite: Admission to Politics Honors Program
PLCP 5993: Selected Problems in Comparative Politics
Credits: 1–3
Independent study, under faculty supervision, for intensive research on a specific topic. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.