Government 270 – Political Behavior, Political Process, and Policy
Professor Nalder, Spring 2010
Office: Tahoe 3121
Office Hours: W 4:30-5:30 and F 1:00-2:00, and by appointment
Scope and Purpose
In this course we will explore the public opinion, voting behavior, representation, political psychology, and policy development literature. Ideally in a democracy, there is a basic assumption that an informed citizenry exercises its right to political participation wisely, determining who will serve in elected office. If theories of representation are functioning properly, then the direction of policy pursued by these officials should generally reflect the will of the electorate. This semester will involve the evaluation of these assumptions and the realities of representation, voter capability, and the resultant policies. This course should familiarize you with the relevant literature and assist you in develop critical thinking, research, and presentation skills.
Brader, Ted (2006) Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: How Emotional Appeals in Political Ads Work. ISBN: 978-0-226-06989-0
Delli Carpini, Michael and Scott Keeter (1996) What Americans Know About Politics and Why it Matters, Yale University Press, ISBN: 0300072759
Fiorina, Morris (2005) Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized
Hibbing, John and Theiss-Morse, (2003) Stealth Democracy, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 0521009863
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, and Paul Waldman, (2004) The Press Effect,
Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2nd Edition. The
Marsh, David and Gerry Stoker. (2002) Theory and Methods in Political Science, 2nd Ed. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 978-0333948552
Putnam, Robert (2001) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. ISBN: 978-0743203043
(1992) The Nature and Origins of Mass
Weekly papers 30%
Weekly Analysis Papers
Weekly readings must be complete by the time of the seminar. You will be asked to critique and evaluate the research in each area of inquiry as part of the seminar’s discussion. At the beginning of each seminar, a one page (typed) critique and evaluation of the week’s reading is due. This paper should relay your understanding of the material, its conceptual strengths and weaknesses, its holes, and how it relates to the themes of the seminar. You are only required to submit 6 of these papers over the course of the semester. It is up to you to choose which 6 weeks you would like to write the analysis papers for. For every class meeting, you are expected to e-mail a discussion question regarding the readings to the discussion leader for that week. The question should be sent at least 24 hours in advance.
This course will culminate in a final exam. It will consist of broad and inclusive essay questions modeled on M.A. exam questions. This should serve as good practice for those of you taking the field exam route. Please bring a large blue book for use on the day of the final.
You will be assigned a 15-page research paper on the topic of your choosing within the political behavior, political psychology, public opinion, media and politics or political culture sub-literatures. A detailed paper assignment sheet will be online soon. University policy on plagiarism applies here – any violations will result in serious penalties. An outline is due on April 5. The paper is due May 3rd.
Each of you will have the opportunity to lead a portion of the seminar discussion this semester. In preparing for this task, you should carefully read the literature for the week and construct some compelling discussion questions or issues brought out in the reading. You will also be responsible for providing a brief overview of the readings to ground the discussion. See the guidelines for leading discussion on the website for the course. This should provide you with some experience presenting scholarly material which should be useful as practice for teaching or conference participation.
Jan 25 Introduction
Feb 1 Social Science Research
Marsh and Stoker, Theory and Methods in Political Science. Chapters: Intro, 1,2,3,10
February 8 How are Political Opinions and Orientations Formed? – Psychological Explanations.
February 15 CAMPUS FURLOUGH
February 22 Ideology
Lakoff, Moral Politics. Carefully read Chapters 1-9, skim Chapters 10-17
March 1 Party Identification
The CCMS and Stimson are on reserve at the library.
· Excerpt from “Tides of Consent” by James Stimson – on reserve.
· Alan I. Abramowitz and Kyle L. Saunders. “Exploring the Bases of Partisanship in the American Electorate: Social Identity vs. Ideology” Political Research Quarterly, 6 2006; vol. 59: pp. 175 - 187
· Pew Party Identification 2008 http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1015/democratic-party-identification-swing-states
· Overview and Section 1 of Pew Report on Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/312.pdf.
March 8 Patterns in Macro Opinion
· Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion (skim chapters 7,9, read the rest)
March 15 Political Culture
Putnam, Robert. 2001. Bowling Alone
March 22 Red vs. Blue and Voting
Fiorina, Morris. 2005. Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized
· Menand, Louis. (2004) “The Unpolitical Animal; How political science understands voters.” The New Yorker. August 30, 2004. Pg. 92
March 29 *****Spring Break******
April 5 Knowledge
Delli Carpini and Keeter, 1996. What Americans Know about Politics and Why it Matters.
April 12 Knowledge, Information, and Misinformation
******paper outline due
April 19 Political Communication and Emotion
April 26 Participation and Turnout
May 3 Media Effects
May 10 Does Responsiveness matter? How much policy control does the public have or want?
· PIPA report on perceptions of candidate positions
· Bartels, Larry, “Homer Gets a Tax Cut ” (online)
· Hibbing and Theiss-Morse. 2003. Stealth Democracy.
Final Exam: Monday, May 17, 6:00-8:50