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 policy 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 lecture and discussion sessions will be employed. Grades will be based upon a series of assigned essays, a midterm and final exam. (Walker)

426/Econ. 426. The Development of the American Labor Market Institutions. Econ. 201 or the equivalent. Not open to students who have taken or are taking Econ. 421 or 422. (3). (SS).

This course is an intensive investigation of selected topics in the development of the labor market in the U.S. These include: the rise of living standards; the labor market role of education; waves of immigration and their impact on wage structure; the determinants of the labor market status of Blacks from the Civil War to the present; the birth, growth, and decline of trade unionism; and the occupational status of women. The class is run in conventional lecture format; grades are based on a midterm and a final examination. This course is not open to students who have taken or are taking Econ 421 and 422. (Johnson)

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. This course requires eight short papers and a final exam. (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. After some initial discussion of ethical theories and of the relationship between ethics and politics, we will consider four topics: (1) evaluation techniques such as benefit-cost analysis, (2) the concept of liberty and policies that restrict it, (3) the concept of equal treatment, and (4) some of the ethical issues raised by the operations of multinational corporations. Classes will combine lectures about the various concepts and discussions of particular policies. Among the texts for the course will be Fred Feldman, Introductory Ethics; J.S. Mill, On Liberty; John Rawls, A Theory of Justice; Douglas Rae, Equalities; and Henry Shue, Basic Rights. There will be approximately eight writing assignments during the term, several of which will be revised and resubmitted. There will be no exams. (Chamberlin)

468/History 468. Politics, Power, and the Public Sector in America, 1820-1920. (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 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. (McDonald)

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

This course will analyze the American family from the colonial period to the present. It will trace changes in the family from a preindustrial society to a post-industrial one. The approach is topical and will cover such issues as the use of birth control and abortions, childbearing practices, adolescence, role of women, old age, and death and dying. Particular attention will be placed on analyzing the impact of changes in American institutions on the development of the family. Course format consists of lectures and classroom discussions with an emphasis on a critical reading of the assigned materials. The grading will be based upon the midterm and final examination. Some of the readings will include: Michael Gordon's The American Family in Social-Historical Perspective; David Fischer's Growing Old in America; David Stannard's Death in America; and James Mohr's Abortion in America. (Vinovskis)


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