CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO
Political Environment of Policy Making
|Professor Ted Lascher
3035 Tahoe (Business) Building
278-4864 (voice, office)
278-6544 (fax, office)
(530)7588-5687 (home-- no calls after 8:00 p.m.)
|Meeting time and place:
Tahoe (Business) 1027
Office hours: Monday 4-6 & by appointment
One of the recurring themes in American history is the desire to remove politics (that great beast!) from policy making. Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in the real world. In that environment, politics matters. Decision makers commonly hold different values and interests, and attempt to advance them through a variety of means (e.g., deployment of resources, advantageous issue framing, bargaining). Outcomes frequently reflect participants' skills, clout, etc.
This course asks students to embrace the notion that politics matters, and then go beyond that. My aim is to develop your ability to diagnose the political factors that affect outcomes. The ultimate goal is to improve your effectiveness in the policy arena.
In emphasizing politics, I do not wish to argue that substantive arguments about the merits of policy are irrelevant. Indeed, during the semester we will consider evidence that policy deliberation not only should matter but does matter in the real world. Yet its also crucial to understand how the political situation affects reasoning about the merits of policy choices.
This course focuses mainly (although not exclusively) on the development stage of the policy process, and particularly efforts to secure enactment of legislation. I find legislative battles especially useful for illustrating key analytical points. However, students should remain aware that politics enters other forums and stages, including policy implementation.
CONDUCT OF THE SEMINAR
The term "seminar" is accurate. Conventional lectures will be limited to those situations where lecturing is the most effective way to convey key information and arguments. Most classes will be discussion oriented. While I will guide the conversation, summarize points and draw lessons, the bulk of class time will be devoted to exchange about course topics.
Student participation is therefore not a luxury; it is essential to a successful course. I expect that students will come to class consistently, be prepared to discuss the week's readings, and be prepared to accept special in-class assignments such as leading a critique of a particular argument from the literature.
All readings are available at the Hornet Bookstore. Most of the required readings are in a course packet. The packet contains articles and book chapters, as well as a number of case studies from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (KSG).
The following books are also required.
Stephen Ansolabehre, Roy Behr, and Shanto Iyengar, The Media Game: American Politics in the Television Age (New York: MacMillan, 1993)
Lydia Ch�vez, The Color Bind: Californias Battle to End Affirmative Action (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)
John W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, 2nd edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1995)
ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING
There will be two short written assignments, an in-class mid-term examination, and a take-home final examination. The final examination will be based in part on "Auto Safety," the last case in your reading packet. Written assignment due dates are specified in the syllabus.
Course grades will be determined in accordance with the following weights:
|Short written assignment #1||15%|
|Short written assignment #2||15%|
MAKE-UP ASSIGNMENTS AND MISSED CLASSES
Late assignments will not be accepted. At my discretion, a student who misses a deadline may be given a make-up assignment. Whether or not a penalty will be assessed depends on the reason (e.g., a family emergency constitutes a good reason; a competing requirement for another course does not).
You should inform me prior to class if you must miss class on a specific day. Except under very unusual circumstances, a student who misses three classes will be penalized one entire grade (e.g., a B+ for the course will become a C+), and a student who misses more than three classes will receive a failing grade.
DETAILED CLASS INFORMATION
I. THE POLITICS OF POLICY MAKING: AN OVERVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
A. INTRODUCTION: THE CONCEPT OF THE POLICY ENTREPRENEUR
"From Research to Policy: The Cigarette Excise Tax" (KSG case)
B. THE KINGDON FRAMEWORK
Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, chapters 1-6
Written assignment #1 due
Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, chapters 7-10
Come to class prepared to discuss your assignment
II. WORKING THE PROBLEM STREAM: GETTING MEDIA ATTENTION
"The Voting Rights Act of 1965" (KSG case)
Ansolabehre, Behr, and Iyengar, The Media Game, chapters 1-3
"Siege Mentality: ABC, the White House and the Iran Hostage Crisis," (KSG case)
Ansolabehre, Behr, and Iyengar, The Media Game, chapters 6, 7, 9, 12 (skim remainder)
III. WORKING THE POLITICAL STREAM: OVERCOMING APATHY, GETTING PEOPLE MOBILIZED
A. ADDRESSING THE COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEM
Mancur Olson, "The Logic of Collective Action," in Pressure Groups (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 23-37
Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books, 1984), pp. 3-19
The Collective Action Game
B. MOBILIZING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
"Blip on the Screen- or Wave of the Future? Electronic Democracy in Santa Monica" (KSG case)
Marshall Ganz, "Voters in the Crosshairs: How Technology and the Market are Destroying Politics," The American Prospect (Winter, 1994), pp. 100-109
Bruce Bimber, "The Internet and Political Transformation: Populism, Community, and Accelerated Pluralism," Polity 31 (1998), pp. 133-160
March 22- Special Class Time and Topic
Class meets: 4-5:30 p.m., University Union (room to be announced)
Topic: focusing events
Thomas A. Birkland, "Focusing Events, Mobilization, and Agenda Setting," Journal of Public Policy, 18 (1998), pp. 53-74
Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, pp. 90-100 (review carefully)
Guest speaker: Tom Birkland, SUNY Albany
C. WHAT ISSUES MOVE THE MASS PUBLIC?
April 5 (no class March 29; spring break)
Mid-Term Exam During the First Half of Class
John R. Zaller, "Monica Lewinskys Contribution to Political Science," PS: Political Science and Politics 31 (1998), pp. 182-189
What does the Lewinsky scandal suggest about what moves public opinion?
IV. MOVING FROM AGENDA TO DECISION, PART ONE: BUILDING A
Ch�vez, The Color Bind, skim chapters 1-2 and the afterward, read chapters 3-8 more carefully
V. MOVING FROM AGENDA TO DECISION, PART TWO: NEGOTIATIONS
A. SIMPLE NEGOTIATIONS
Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 21-46
What does it take to achieve success in a two-party, zero sum negotiation?
"The Salty Dog"
B. MORE COMPLEX NEGOTIATIONS
David Lax and James Sebenius, The Manager as Negotiator (New York: The Free Press, 1986), pp. 29-45
"MAPO-Administration Negotiation, General Information" (to be distributed prior to class)
VI. MOVING FROM AGENDA TO DECISION, PART THREE: DELIBERATION ON THE MERITS OF POLICY CHOICES
A. WHAT DO WE WANT FROM DELIBERATION?
Written assignment #2 due
"Twelve Angry Men" (recent version; to be viewed prior to class)
Edward Lascher, "Assessing Legislative Deliberation: A Preface to Empirical Analysis," Legislative Studies Quarterly (Winter, 1996), pp. 501-519.
Jon Elster, "The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory," in Foundations of Social Choice Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
B. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM ACTUAL POLICY DELIBERATION?
"Against All Odds: The Campaign in Congress for Japanese-American Redress" (KSG case)
"California Welfare Reform" (KSG case)
Robert Reich, Locked in the Cabinet (New York: Knopf, 1997)
a. Discussion of sweatshops: pp. 269-270, 314-316
b. Interaction with Dick Morris: pp. 275-277