Middlemass, Spring 2012 Syllabus

Spring 2012: Public Policy Making in the American Political System

26:790:501:01 (Cross Listed with 26:050:522:01)

Mondays 5.30-8.10pm – 201 Engelhard Hall

 

Professor Middlemass

Email: middle@rutgers.edu

Office: 725 Hill Hall / Office Phone: 973.353.5048

Office Hours: M & W 2-4pm and by appointment

______________________________________________

 

Public Policy Making in the American Political System provides a broad overview about American Politics. Traditionally, American Politics is divided into two areas of study – Political Institutions and Political Behavior – but the dividing line between them has blurred, and the discipline has grown to include many areas of interest, including the politics of race, immigration and minority group representation; political parties and party polarization; the bureaucracy; the politics of crime policy; local and state politics; urban, welfare, environmental and morality politics; economic inequality; and the power of interest groups, to name only a few. The breadth and depth in American Politics is as diverse as the topics chosen to be studied.

 

Scholars leverage a variety of pluralistic methodological approaches (qualitative, quantitative and interdisciplinary) to analyze and study politics, the practice of government, the rules of political engagement, the use of power, the allocation of resources, the development and implementation of public policy, individual and group behavior, and all related outcomes. Scholars analyze data from primary and secondary sources using interviews, survey research, and content analysis of government documents, political ads, speeches, and debates. The goal is to identify ideas, ideology, and positions. The connecting link in the literature is the focus on studying and identifying relationship(s) between political institutions and actors.

 

While the likelihood that you have taken an undergraduate political science course is high, graduate level study is qualitatively and substantively different. First, graduate level courses help you begin the transition from consumers of knowledge to producers of knowledge. Second, assigned readings are not optional. It is expected that each student reads all of the assigned material prior to class in which it will be discussed. Third, to become producers of knowledge, students need to spend time critically thinking about the readings. Students should think about each reading as a building block that makes a contribution to the field and the topic, and then think about how the readings relate to the previous weeks’ readings. An effective way to analyze a large body of scholarship is to identify several core components:

  1. theory/framework/model
  2. research question (could be stated as a thesis)
  3. research design, methods and data
  4. findings
  5. conclusion (broad implications that start to answer the “so what” question)

 

REQUIREMENTS

 

Discussion Facilitator (15%): Learning how to facilitate a discussion has many benefits, including: (1) raising the level of student involvement in the classroom; (2) developing individual skills to formulate and express ideas and opinions; (3) helping students learn to evaluate the logic of and evidence for their own and others’ positions; (4) increasing appreciation for the complexity and inter-relatedness of issues; (5) and developing effective listening and critical thinking skills.

 

Students will facilitate an equal number of articles/book chapters across the semester. The goal is to present the readings’ strengths, weaknesses, findings and overall contribution to the literature. This will begin with the third class meeting (February 6). Students should be prepared to go beyond mere summary and discuss what is right with the article/book chapter, what is wrong, and how to improve upon it (theory, data, methods, new research question)? How does it relate to other literature? What research should be done next? What are the findings/implications for future research?

 

In order to do so, all students must: (1) read the assigned reading material and think about the big picture of the weeks’ readings; (2) prepare a list of 2 or 3 topics that they would like to discuss (for instance exploring the data or evidence the authors provide for their conclusions or what the implications of a particular study has for understanding the same question in a different discipline); and (3) actively listen to fellow participants to respond to each others’ comments.

 

The facilitator will: (1) write down the discussion topics on the board, the class will then pick at least three; (2) the facilitator then will ask questions, which should be open-ended such as “what, how, who, why,” to encourage brainstorming; (3) the facilitator’s role is to then ask more in-depth questions (such as: “Why did you say that?” or “What was your thinking or reasoning?” or if there seems to be agreement, “might another viewpoint be missing from the discussion?” The facilitator can ask for the implications of the topic or the “big-picture,” or ask for a specific example and details to enrich the discussion); and (4) when the ideas are exhausted, everyone is encouraged to build a list of “take home messages” on the readings.

 

Summary Papers (Check/Minus): Summary papers are a short summary of the readings (1 page per article, 2 pages per book, at a minimum, double-spaced, 11 or 12 point font, 1 inch margins) and are designed to help you clarify your thoughts about the readings. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, but grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence structure matter.

 

Analytical Essays (45%: 3 x 15%): Each student will write three (3) analytical papers (4-5 pages long, double-spaced, 11 or 12 point font, 1 inch margins). The analytical papers will focus on three of the main sections: Part I: Constitutional Federalism (due February 13); Part II: Electoral & Political Behavior (due February 27); and Part III: Political Institutions (due March 26). These papers are MORE than a summary. Choose at least two reading assignments from each section and provide a factual analysis. Analytical essays are not written from an opinionated perspective.

 

Template for Writing an Analytical Essay

 

Introduction

Introduce topic  

Provide summary of the material and main arguments

Present thesis of at least two authors from the assigned readings

Body

Set up each writer’s claim/argument

What evidence is provided to support each claim/argument?

Are any assumptions made? If so, describe them.

Breakdown of argument(s) – strengths

Challenge of argument(s) – weaknesses

Conclusion

Summation of the findings of the two authors

Provide 2-3 suggestions for further study on the issue (what’s next?)

 

Literature Review & Presentation (25%: 15 + 10): Analyze some literature of your choice and grapple with how you would frame a research question (or a thesis statement). Utilizing an established theoretical framework, write a literature review about the topic (20 pages, double-spaced, 11 or 12 point font, 1 inch margins, plus bibliography). A literature review discusses and synthesizes a set of works from verifiable and objective published sources that are on your topic of interest. A literature review requires you to read a lot of relevant books and peer-reviewed journal articles (i.e. articles that have been published in academic journals after being reviewed by other scholars). A good literature review not only presents all (most) of the relevant (major) ideas but also attempts to seek connections between the material. A literature review explores and evaluates sources related to each other and the specific topic. By drawing on what others have to say about your topic, the goal is to offer a critical interpretation of the literature. The concluding/discussion section has two main parts: (1) a summation of the findings of the literature and (2) where your research question/thesis fits. Choose a suitable topic (Due February 27). Make sure your topic is not too broad or too narrow; either will prevent you from writing a well-focused literature review. Clean draft of literature review is due April 9. Final literature review and presentation is due April 30. Presentations will be 12-15 minutes each.

 

Peer Review of Literature Review (15%): An important part of writing well is revising. In order to revise a paper, it must be proofread. Proofreading is probably one of the most important tools available to improve upon a paper (to eliminate spelling errors, to correct grammar and awkward phrases and sentences, to decrease repetitive phrases and eliminate redundancies, to reorganize sentences and paragraphs to improve the flow of the paper). A second set of eyes adds value to the final version. Everyone will do a Peer Review. Peer reviews will be assigned by the Professor. There are two parts of a Peer Review – Survey and Comments. Due April 16. See the Peer Review Handout at the end for further instructions.

 

READINGS

 

The following books are available for purchase at the Rutgers University bookstore (Bradley Hall). Additional required readings are available via Blackboard. 

 

Dahl, Robert A. 2001. How Democratic is the American Constitution? 2nd Edition. Yale University Press.

 

Kingdon, John W. 1999. America the Unusual. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s/Wadsworth Publishing.

 

Lieberman, Robert C. 2005. Shaping Race Policy: The United States in Comparative Perspective. Princeton University Press.

______________________________________________

 

COURSE OUTLINE

 

Part I: Constitutional Federalism

 

January 23: Course Overview & Introduction

 

January 30: Constitutional Government: Why Federalism?

 

Dahl, Robert A. 2001. How Democratic is the American Constitution? 2nd Edition. Yale University Press.

 

Derthick, Martha. 1999. “How Many Communities? The Evolution of American Federalism” in Dilemmas of Scale in America's Federal Democracy. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

 

February 6: Path Dependency & Federalism

 

Kingdon, John W. 1999. America the Unusual. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s/Wadsworth Publishing.

 

Shipan, Charles R. and Craig Volden. 2006. “Bottom-up Federalism: The Diffusion of Antismoking Policies from U.S. Cities to States.” American Journal of Political Science 50:4:825-843.

 

*** Summary Paper #1 Due

 


Part II: Electoral & Political Behavior

 

February 13: Political Behavior

 

Brady, Henry E., Sidney Verba and Kay Lehman Schlozman. 1995. “Beyond SES: A Resource Model of Political Participation.” American Political Science Review 89:2:271-294.

 

Abramowitz, Alan and Kyle L. Saunders. 2006. “Exploring the Bases of Partisanship in the American Electorate: Social Identity vs. Ideology.” Political Research Quarterly 59:2:175-187.

 

Campbell, David E. 2004. “Acts of Faith: Churches and Political Engagement.” Political Behavior 26:2:155-180.

 

Carmines, Edward and James A. Stimson. 1980. “The Two Faces of Issue Voting.” American Political Science Review 74:1:78-91.

 

*** Analytical Paper #1 Due – Part I: Constitutional Federalism

 

February 20: Political Representation of Groups

 

Herrnson, Paul. 1986. “Do Parties Make a Difference? The Role of Party Organization in Congressional Elections.” Journal of Politics 48:3:589-615.

 

Brunell, Thomas L. 2005. “The Relationship between Political Parties and Interest Groups: Explaining Patterns of PAC Contributions to Candidates for Congress.” Political Research Quarterly 58:4:681-688.

 

Schlozman, Kay Lehman. 1984. “What Accent the Heavenly Chorus? Political Equality and the American Pressure System.” The Journal of Politics 46:4:1006-1032.

 

Mansbridge, Jane. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes’.” Journal of Politics 61:3:628-657.

 

*** Summary Paper #2 Due

 

February 27: The Social Construction of Groups

 

Dovi, Suzanne. 2002. “Preferable Descriptive Representatives: Will Just Any Woman, Black, or Latino Do?” American Political Science Review 96:4:729-743.

 

Schneider, Anne and Helen Ingram. 1993. “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy.” American Political Science Review 87:2:334-347.

 

Jensen, Laura. 2005. “Constructing and Entitling America’s Original Veterans” in Deserving and Entitled: Social Constructions and Public Policy. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press (35-62).

 

DiAlto, Stephanie J. 2005. “From ‘Problem Minority’ to ‘Model Minority’: The Changing Social Construction of Japanese Americans” in Deserving and Entitled: Social Constructions and Public Policy. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press (81-110).

 

*** Literature Review & Presentation Topic Due (1 page overview, including an initial thesis or research question, and working bibliography – 10-12 sources)

 


Part III: Political Institutions

 

March 5: Congress: An Institution of 535

 

Schickler, Eric. 2005. “Institutional Development of Congress” in The Legislative Branch, Selected Readings. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press (35-62).

 

King, David. 1994. “The Nature of Congressional Committee Jurisdictions.” American Political Science Review 88:1:48-62.

 

Lee, Frances E. 2005. “Interests, Constituencies and Policy Making” in The Legislative Branch, Selected Readings. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press (281-313).

 

Stewart, Charles. 2005. “Congress and the Constitutional System” in The Legislative Branch, Selected Readings. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press (3-34).

 

Rohde, David. 2005. “Committees and Policy Formation” ” in The Legislative Branch, Selected Readings. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press (201-223).

 

*** Analytical Paper #2 – Part II: Electoral & Political Behavior

 

SPRING BREAK March 12-16

 

March 19: The Presidency: An Institution of One

 

James, Scott C. 2005. “The Evolution of the Presidency” in The Executive Branch, Selected Readings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (3-40).

 

Barrett, Andrew W. 2007. “Press Coverage of Legislative Appeals by the President.” Political Research Quarterly 60:4:655-668.

 

Damore, David F. 2005. “Issue Convergence in Presidential Campaigns.” Political Behavior 27:1:71-97.

 

Wayne, Stephen J. 2005. “Presidential Elections and American Democracy” in The Executive Branch, Selected Readings. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press (103-134).

 

*** Summary Paper #3 Due

 

March 26: Only 9 At a Time Wear This Robe

 

Maltzman, Forrest. 2005. “Advice and Consent: Cooperation and Conflict in the Appointment of Federal Judges” in The Legislative Branch, Selected Readings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (407-431).

 

Baird, Vanessa A. 2004. “The Effect of Politically Salient Decisions on the U.S. Supreme Court's Agenda.” Journal of Politics 66:3:755-772.

 

Patton, Dana. 2007. “The Supreme Court and Morality Policy Adoption in the American States: The Impact of Constitutional Context.” Political Research Quarterly 60:3:468-488.

 


Part IV: Public Policy

 

April 2: Policy Making in the United States

 

Wong, Kenneth K. 2005. “Policy-Making in the American States: Typology, Process and Institutions.” Review of Policy Research 8:3:527–548.

 

Weingast, Barry R. 2005. “Caught in the Middle: The President, Congress and the Political-Bureaucratic System” in The Executive Branch, Selected Readings Oxford University Press (312-343).

 

Peterson, Paul E. 1991. “The Urban Underclass and the Poverty Paradox.” Political Science Quarterly 106:4:617-637.

 

Tickamyer, Ann R. and Cynthia M. Duncan. 1990. “Poverty and Opportunity Structure in Rural America.” Annual Review of Sociology 16:67-86.

 

*** Analytical Paper #3 Due – Part III: Political Institutions

 

April 9: Social Welfare in a Comparative Perspective, Part I

 

Lieberman, Robert C. 2005. Shaping Race Policy: The United States in Comparative Perspective. Princeton University Press (Preface, Chapters 1-4).

 

*** Clean Draft of Literature Review Due (bring two hard copies). Peer Review Assigned.

 

April 16: Social Welfare in a Comparative Perspective, Part II

 

Lieberman, Robert C. 2005. Shaping Race Policy: The United States in Comparative Perspective. Princeton University Press (Chapters 5-9).

 

*** Peer Review Due

 

April 23: The Carceral State – Institutions, Public Policy and Social Construction

 

Soss, Joe, Laura Langbein and Alan R. Metelko. 2003. “Why Do White Americans Support the Death Penalty?” The Journal of Politics 65:2:397-421.

 

Adams, Jessica. 2001. “The Wildest Show in the South": Tourism and Incarceration at Angola.” Tourism and Incarceration 45:2:94-108.

 

Pettit, Becky and Bruce Western. 2004. “Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration.” American Sociological Review 69:2:151-169.

 

Benoit, Ellen. 2003. “Not Just a Matter of Criminal Justice: States, Institutions, and North American Drug Policy.” Sociological Forum 18:2:269-294.

 

April 30: Class Presentations

 

*** Final Literature Review and Presentation Due

 


Spring 2012: Public Policy Making in the American Political System

26:790:501:01 (Cross Listed with 26:050:522:01)

Mondays 5.30-8.10pm – 201 Engelhard Hall

 

Professor Middlemass

Email: middle@rutgers.edu

Office: 725 Hill Hall / Office Phone: 973.353.5048

Office Hours: M & W 2-4pm and by appointment

______________________________________________

 

Instructions for Peer Review of Literature Review

 

There are many aspects to evaluating a paper, and the overall evaluation is a synthesis that takes these multiple aspects into account. Your task is to evaluate and comment on the assigned literature review utilizing three general criteria – style, organization and content – and then comment on them. You should outline the strengths of the paper in each of the three categories, and also offer specific suggestions for improvement. Then utilize the evaluation rubric to evaluate the paper in the categories provided. Please note that the point of this exercise is to provide constructive criticism, and to assist the author to improve the final draft of their paper.

 

1. Style: This is a broad category which includes such matters as grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as proper use of references. Here, you should mark the paper itself for corrections. Some possibilities: disagreement between nouns and verbs, awkward sentences, poor word choice, poor paragraph construction, ill-fitting direct quotes, failure to use citations, and the use of slang or clichés. Style also includes somewhat more nebulous matters such as use of language and literary devices, and their effectiveness. You will want to offer suggestions for improving the overall style and presentation. How effectively are the ideas presented? How might this paper be improved? What are some other possible approaches the author might use to effectively present his/her ideas?

 

2. Organization: This category includes the clarity of ideas and how effectively the ideas in the paper are presented. Is there a clear thesis statement? Does the author develop this thesis with supporting literature? Is there a clear summation of the findings and broad conclusions? Does their research question or thesis fit the literature? Do the transitions in the paper make sense? Is there a tight focus, or is more like spaghetti?

 

3. Content: This category includes analysis of the ideas themselves. Does the paper actually begin to answer the question asked? Does it utilize relevant/appropriate texts? Does the literature review accurately represent the ideas of the authors discussed, or does the student take ideas out of context or distort the authors’ meaning? Is the thesis/research question supported by reasons and evidence? Is there other information that the paper should include? Is there material that seems to be missing?

 

Overall, your task is to assist your colleague in improving their literature review by providing comments and suggestions in each of the three categories. If there are matters that do not fall in one of these categories but which deserve comment, please add these comments as well.

 


PS 501: Evaluation Survey for Literature Review Papers

 

Paper Author: _____________________ Evaluator: ___________________ Date: ___________


(1) Responds fully to                  EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      the assignment

 

(2) Expresses its purpose            EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      clearly and persuasively

 

(3) Is directed toward and

      meets the needs of                EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      a defined audience

 

(4) Begins and ends                     EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

          effectively

 

(5) Provides adequate                

      supporting arguments,          EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      evidence, examples and details

 

(6) Is well-organized                    EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      and unified

 

(7) Uses appropriate                    EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      language

 

(8) Correctly acknowledges       EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      and documents all sources

 

(9) Is free of errors –

      grammar, punctuation,        EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      word choice, spelling, and format

 

(10) Maintains a level of            EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      excellence throughout the entire literature review

 

(11) Shows originality and

      demonstrates an                    EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

      understanding of the material and topic under discussion


OVERALL EVALUATION     EXCELLENT       VERY GOOD         ADEQUATE           FAIR          POOR

 


On an additional page, prepare typed comments in the following FOUR areas that support the Survey above:

 

  1. Overall Comments
  2. Style
  3. Content
  4. Organization

 

Bring two copies of the Survey and Comments, and the original copy of the Literature Review to class on April 16, 2012.