Courses in American Institutions (Division 316)

240/Poli. Sci. 210. Introduction to the Political Economy of American Institutions. (4). (SS).

The principle objective of this course is to understand the governmental and private institutions in the U.S. that allocate resources, resolve social conflicts, build consensus, and establish national goals. The course will begin with an analysis of how markets operate and under what circumstances they fail or malfunction, giving rise to calls for governmental intervention. Various modes of government intervention, such as the regulation of prices, provision of subsidies, the delivery of social services, or the imposition of taxes will be described and the impacts analyzed. The possibilities and obstacles facing citizens in affecting public policies will be analyzed with special emphasis on social movements, interest groups, and political parties. Students will write papers about the appropriate scope or purpose of government, the possibilities and limitations of planning, and problems of maintaining legitimacy in capitalist democracies, and the tradeoffs between equity and efficiency, or democratic participation and political stability. As part of the lectures, case studies of the provision of medical care in America, the regulation and promotion of industry, and the protection of civil rights will be presented. Both lectures and discussion sessions will be employed. Grades will be based upon a series of assigned essays, a midterm and final exam. (Walker)

439/Econ. 425/Poli. Sci. 439. Inequality in the United States. Econ.. 201 or Poli. Sci. 111. (3). (SS).

This course deals with economic inequality in the U.S. We begin by asking whether the goal of equality competes with other societal goals such as liberty and efficiency. Next we examine the sources of economic inequality. We investigate how and whether the family, neighborhoods, schools, and labor markets exacerbate and/or reduce economic inequality. This is followed by an examination of domestic social policies directed toward economic inequality. This will include: tax policies, charity, neighborhood reorganization, constitutional amendments and equal opportunity policies. We will ask whether these policies can be altered to be more effective. (Corcoran and Courant)

450/Poli. Sci. 438. Ethics and Public Policy. (4). (SS).

This course will explore the ethical issues raised by a variety of public policies that are currently under debate. After some initial discussions of ethical theories and of the relationship between ethics and democracy, the course will take up a series of concepts central to political philosophy: rights, liberty, justice, and equality. Lectures will be devoted to discussions of the works of philosophers and political theorists and to the applications of their arguments to current public policy debates. Particular attention will be paid to policies which restrict individual liberty and to policies raising questions of justice and equal treatment. There will be a midterm, a final, and one ten page paper. Among the primary texts will be: Fred Feldman, Introductory Ethics; John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism and On Liberty; Robert P. Wolff, The Poverty of Liberalism; John Rawls, A Theory of Justice; Marshall Cohen (ed.), Equality and Preferential Treatment. The reading load is heavy and devoted almost exclusively to political theory. (Chamberlin)

468/History 468. Politics, Power, and the Public Sector in America, 1820-1920. Permission of instructor. (4). (SS).

What historical forces have helped to shape the public sector in contemporary America? This course attempts to answer this question by combining the theoretical and empirical work of historians, political scientists, and sociologists to analyze the development of the public sector at local, state, and national levels in pre-New Deal America. The course will be conducted as a colloquium and, therefore, will be organized around weekly meetings to discuss assigned readings which will include both theoretical works and historical case studies. Among the former will be pluralist and neo-Marxian theories of power and the state, and collective choice theories and models of political mobilization. Historical case studies will focus on the relationships among socio-economic change, political action, and demands for the expansion of the public sector at critical moments in the nation's history. Of particular interest in the case studies will be the question of from where demands for the expansion of the public sector originated. Students will write brief, weekly papers on the assigned readings and longer papers comparing theoretical and historical works. Students must have the instructor's permission to register for the course and only fifteen will be admitted. (McDonald)

471/History 571. American Institutions and the Development of the Family. (4). (SS).

See History 571. (Vinovskis)


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