Political Science 310
Theories of American Politics
TR 9:30 - 10:45 a.m. in 374 MARB
Instructor: Jay Goodliffe
Office: 752 SWKT
Academic Honesty and Plagiarism
I will hold office hours on Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-3:30 p.m. I am also
available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. I encourage
you to come by for any reason whatsoever.
You should check your email regularly (as well as this syllabus web
page) for updates, announcements, corrections, etc. You are responsible
for any announcements made in class even if you did not attend. I suggest
that you exchange phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses with other students
in the class.
It is understood that students enrolled in this class will have taken at
a minimum Political Science 110 (Introduction to American Politics) and
Political Science 200 (Political Inquiry). Thus, I expect all students
to have a working knowledge of American politics, and to know how to write
a paper. If you have not taken both of those courses, take this course
after you have. It will also be of great benefit to have taken Economics
This course is designed to serve as the intermediate theory course for
the sub-field of American politics. In the first section of the course,
we will study the major approaches to studying social science. Students
should be able to identify and apply these approaches to various topics
in American politics. In the second section of the course, we will select
topics in American politics (one per week), and examine theories that attempt
to explain political phenomena, often using seminal readings on the subject.
Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to develop your critical
thinking skills through writing assignments and a group presentation. At
the conclusion of this course, you should have four distinct skills:
the ability to identify the major types of research traditions that structure
the study of politics;
the capacity to use these theories to explain current practices in American
the capability to derive testable hypotheses from these theories; and,
a refined ability to analyze and think critically.
The course will be conducted primarily as a seminar. Therefore, it is incumbent
that you have read the material to be discussed during each class period
prior to the class. It is expected that you will attend regularly and come
prepared to participate in the discussion. You should anticipate that I
will call on you to contribute your opinion. We will also have various
in-class activities and exercises designed to stimulate interest and enhance
learning. If I believe that the class is not doing the readings before
class, I will administer quizzes at the beginning of class.
I actively encourage questions, interruptions, cries for help, protests
of disbelief, etc. You will never be penalized for participating--even
when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why
we are reading this stuff!" I urge--indeed, I expect--you to take advantage
of the chance to talk with me during office hours.
There will be four 2-3 page papers (equally weighted) to help you develop
your critical thinking skills and evaluate your understanding of the reading.
On the first and fourth papers, each student must meet with a Writing
Fellow to discuss a draft the paper before turning in the final draft (failure
to do so will result in no credit for the paper). The topic of each paper
will be distributed 7 or 14 days before the papers are due 14 days for
the Writing Fellow papers). The due dates are noted in the Schedule.
If you cannot make it to class, please leave the assignment with the department
secretaries (in the Political Science office--745 SWKT) before class begins.
I will deduct 10 points per day (including weekends) for late assignments
(on a 100 point scale). That said, I am a reasonable person; if you anticipate
a problem with submitting an assignment when it is due, speak to me before
the assignment is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement.
At the end of the semester, each individual must submit a 7-8 page
paper that uses the theories in the section that he or she presented with
his or her group. The paper must explain a current practice in American
politics using the theories that you covered in your section (and other
sections). You will select one event, practice, or institution in American
politics that you used during your presentation and specify how
the theories explain its occurrence. More detailed instructions are found
Students will be assigned to a group of three. Each student in the group
will distribute his or her paper to the other two students for peer evaluation.
(Students will evaluate two peers' papers, and return each of them with
an evaluation sheet. Peers will also give grades to the instructor only.)
After incorporating the appropriate suggestions and criticisms, students
will turn in their final paper. Authors will also grade the peer reviewers.
Twenty percent of your final paper grade is determined by your initial
submission, 20% of your final paper grade is determined by how well you
evaluate your peers, and the final 60% is determined by your final submission
The paper is due at the beginning of class on the day designated in
the course Schedule. If you cannot make it to class,
please leave the assignment with the department secretaries (in the Political
Science office--745 SWKT) before class begins. I will deduct 10 points
per day (including weekends) for late assignments (on a 100 point scale).
That said, I am a reasonable person; if you anticipate a problem with submitting
an assignment when it is due, speak to me before the assignment
is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement. The papers
may be picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they
are graded. The papers will be discarded at the end of the Summer 2000
To facilitate discussion of the issues, each student will participate in
a group presentation at some point during the semester. A group presentation
should identify the one or two most important questions that the readings
seek to answer, consider alternative explanations and answers from other
theoretical approaches, examine recent occurrences in American politics
and what the theories say about them, and analyze their importance for
the future of American democracy. You can be as creative as you wish in
your approach to the group presentation. You can use video clips from news
programs or movies to illustrate a particular point. You may want to use
music that expresses the same themes found in the readings. The class period
belongs to you. You are responsible for helping us to understand why these
theories and the questions they raise explain such persistent patterns
in American politics. The first presentation will be February 1st
in order to give you time to think about what you might want to do. The
groups will be small to minimize the "free-rider" problem. However, 40%
of your grade for the group presentation will depend upon the evaluation
of the other members of the group. If the other students do not think that
you contributed significantly and meaningfully to the presentation, they
can penalize you.
Each person in the group must apply a theory to a recent example
in American politics during the presentation. This example will be used
in the final paper (see above).
Each group must meet with me before their presentation to discuss
their plans, and to examine the readings.
More substantive details on the group presentation can be found here.
Further suggestions on presentations generally can be found
There will be a final examination that will be comprehensive. The final
exam will be administered in the Testing
Center (265 HGB) April 18-20 (as noted on the final
exam schedule). You may bring any notes that you have written yourself
into the exam (i.e., you may not bring anyone else's notes, the
text, or any articles). There will be no time limit. The exam will consist
primarily of short-answer questions and essay questions that assess the
skills listed in Objectives. The exams may be
picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they are graded.
The exams will be discarded at the end of the Summer 2000 semester.
Since this class is a seminar, students should be ready to engage one another
in discussion. Of course, in order to participate, one needs to attend
class. I am particularly interested in your participation when other groups
make their presentations. Active, collaborative learning not only enhances
your education, but is more interesting to both student and instructor.
I do not grade on a curve.
I include the following information from the BYU
1999-2000 Undergraduate Catalog which guides how I grade and determine
Putting these two statements together, the university expects an "average
student" to work "much more" than 9 hours a week to receive an 'A' (= "excellence")
in a 3 credit-hour course. This is my expectation as well.
"The grade given in a course is the teacher's evaluation of the student's
performance, achievement, and understanding in that subject as covered
in the class. The following adjectives indicate the meaning of the letter
"Hence, the grade A means that the student's performance, achievement,
and understanding were excellent in the portion of the subject covered
in the class.
"There are prerequisites that qualify students to be admitted to the more
advanced classes offered by a department. A senior has added experience,
understanding, and preparation and, consequently, progresses in courses
that would have been impossible when the student was a freshman. The level
of performance, achievement, and understanding required to qualify for
each grade that carries credit (any grade other than E, UW, I, IE, or WE)
is higher in a more advanced class than in those classes that precede it,
and the student is prepared to work at this higher level" (p.
"The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours of work per week
per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared;
much more time may be required to achieve excellence" (p.
This workload was recently affirmed by President Bateman in a devotional
address (7 September 1999). He stated, "It takes approximately three
hours of study outside class for every hour in the classroom. If you take
15 hours of credit, you should allocate upward of 45 hours for study per
Academic Honesty and Plagiarism
A colleague (Professor Mitch Sanders of Florida State University) has already
explicated these issues. Please read here
(also attached to the original syllabus). If you write a paper for another
course (past or present) that uses the same topic as a paper for this course,
you need to approve it with me first, and then you must turn in
to me a copy of the paper from your other course.
The text for the course is
It is available through the BYU Bookstore, or you may want to purchase
it through Amazon,
& Noble, bigwords,
or any number of other on-line bookstores.
Daniel Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Westview Press,
The other readings are either available through JSTOR
Course Reserve in the Lee Library.
They are also on regular reserve. You must access JSTOR from a BYU computer,
and to print from either JSTOR or the Electronic Course Reserve, the computer
must have the Adobe Acrobat reader (downloadable free here).
Where possible, I have linked the article/chapter directly to this syllabus.
Most of the other readings are also in a packet available through the BYU
Bookstore. (The one reading that is NOT in the packet is marked with "*".)
You should read a national newspaper daily. Knowledge of current events
will help you in your group presentation, preliminary and final papers,
and active participation in class. I suggest subscribing to a national
paper, or at the very least, reading on the web the national news of The
New York Times (free with registration), The
Washington Post (free),
Los Angeles Times (free), or The
Wall Street Journal (not free).
I may add or subtract readings during the semester.
Theories of Social Science (January 4 - 27)
Terence Ball, "Is
There Progress in Political Science?" in Idioms of Inquiry,
ed. Terence Ball, State University of New York Press, 1987. [questions]
Daniel Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Chapters 1-8,
Westview Press, 1991. [ch.
1 questions] [ch.
2 questions] [ch.
3 questions] [ch.
4 questions] [ch.
5 questions] [ch.
6 questions] [ch.
7 questions] [ch.
David Easton, "
Future of the Postbehavioral Phase in Political Science," in Contemporary
Empirical Political Theory, ed. Kristen Renwick Monroe, University
of California Press, 1997. [questions]
Susan J. Carroll and Linda M.G. Zerilli, "Feminist
Challenges to Political Science," in Political Science: The State
of the Disipline II, ed. Ada W. Finifter, American Political Science
Association, 1993. [questions]
Applications of Theories to American Politics
Power (February 1, 3) [questions]
G. William Domhoff, "Who
Governs America Today?" in Primis Sociology database, eds. Craig
Calhoun and George Ritzer, McGraw-Hill, 1997.
Nelson W. Polsby, "How
to Study Community Power: The Pluralist Alternative,"
Politics 22:474-484 (1960).
John Gaventa, "Power
and Participation," in Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion
in an Appalachian Valley, University of Illinois Press, 1980.
Constitution (February 8, 10) [questions]
Charles A. Beard, An
Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States(excerpts),
Macmillan, 1954 .
John P. Roche, "The
Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action," American Political
Science Review 55:799-816 (1961).
John B. Londregan, "Deliberation
and Voting at the Federal Convention of 1787," (1999).
Political Culture (February 15, 17) [questions]
Louis Hartz, "The
Concept of a Liberal Society," in The Liberal Tradition in America,
Harcourt, Brace, 1955.
Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, "An
Approach to Political Culture," in The Civic Culture, Little,
Robert D. Putnam, "Bowling
Alone: America's Declining Social Capital,"
Journal of Democracy
Voting (February 24, 29) [questions]
Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes,
Orientation," in The American Voter, University of Chicago Press,
Anthony Downs, "An
Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of
Political Economy 65:135-150 (1957).
Morris P. Fiorina, "An
Outline for a Model of Party Choice," American Journal of Political
Science 21:601-625 (1977).
Interest Groups (March 2, 7) [questions]
David B. Truman, "Group
Politics and Representative Democracy," in The Governmental Process,
2nd edition, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971.
Mancur Olson, Jr., "The
Logic," in The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation,
and Social Rigidities, Yale University Press, 1982.
Richard L. Hall and Frank W. Wayman, "Buying
Time: Moneyed Interests and the Mobilization of Bias in Congressional Committees,"
Political Science Review 84:797-820 (1990).
Social Movements (March 9, 14) [questions]
Lewis M. Killian, "Social
Movements," in Handbook of Modern Sociology, ed. Robert E.L.
Faris, Rand McNally, 1964.
Doug McAdam, "The
Political Process Model," in Political Process and the Development
of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970, University of Chicago Press, 1982.
Verta Taylor and Nancy E. Whittier, "Collective
Identity in Social Movement Communities: Lesbian Feminist Mobilization,"
in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, eds. Aldon D. Morris and
Carol McClurg Mueller, Yale University Press, 1992.
Bureaucracy (March 16, 21) [questions]
James Q. Wilson, "The
Bureaucracy Problem," Public Interest 6:3-9 (1967).
Fred Block, "Beyond
Relative Autonomy: State Managers as Historical Subjects," in Revising
State Theory, Temple University Press, 1987 .
Roger D. Masters, "Why
Bureaucracy?" in The Nature of Politics, Yale University Press,
Representation (March 23, 28) [questions]
Richard F. Fenno, Jr., "U.S.
House Members in Their Constituencies: An Exploration," American
Political Science Review 71:883-917 (1977).
James A. Stimson, Michael B. MacKuen, and Robert S. Erikson, "Dynamic
Representation," American Political Science Review 89:543-565
Julie Dolan, "Support
for Women's Interests in the 103rd Congress: The Distinct Impact of Congressional
Women," Women and Politics
Congress (March 30, April 4) [questions]
J. McIver Weatherford, "The
Ritual of Legislation," in
Tribes on the Hill, Rawson, Wade
Barry R. Weingast and William J. Marshall, "The
Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms,
Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy
*Keith Krehbiel, "Informational
Theories of Legislative Organization," in Information and Legislative
Organization, University of Michigan Press, 1991.
Critique (April 6, 11)
Gerald H. Kramer, "Political
Science as Science," in Political Science: the Science of Politics,
ed. Herbert F. Weisberg, Agathon Press, 1986. [questions]
Theodore J. Lowi, "The
State in Political Science: How We Become What We Study,"
Political Science Review 86:1-7 (1992). [questions]
Daniel Little, "Toward Methodological Pluralism," in
Social Explanation [Chapter 11], Westview Press, 1991. [questions]
Schedule (subject to change)
||Ball; Writing #1 Distributed
||Rational Choice; Interpretivism
||Little 5; Writing #1 Due to Writing Fellow
||Little 8; Easton
||Carroll and Zerilli; Writing #1 Due to Instructor
||Domhoff; Polsby; Gaventa
||Writing #2 Distributed
||Beard; Roche; Londregan
||Writing #2 Due
||Hartz; Almond and Verba; Putnam
||Writing #3 Distributed
||Campbell, et al.; Downs; Fiorina; Writing #3 Due
||Writing #4 Distributed
||Truman; Olson; Hall and Wayman
||Writing #4 Due to Writing Fellow
||Killian; McAdam; Taylor and Whittier
||Wilson; Block; Masters; Writing #4 Due to Instructor
||Fenno; Stimson, MacKuen, and Erikson; Dolan
||Peer Paper Draft Due
||Weatherford; Weingast and Marshall; Krehbiel
||Peer Reviews Due
||Little 11; Final Paper Due
Jay Goodliffe's home
This page is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/courses/winter00/310s001.htm