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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2007

GOV 390L • Comparative Political Behavior

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
40320 T
6:30 PM-9:30 PM
MEZ 1.204

Course Description

For purposes of this course, and as most commonly used in political science, political behavior means the politics of ordinary citizenstheir political and politically relevant thoughts and feelings, as well as their overt behaviors. Major subtopics include public opinion, political participation, voting behavior, and political psychology. The course cuts a wide swath through this domain, taking a relatively psychological and cross-national perspective. The course is about equally Comparative, American, and (especially in the portions devoted to political psychology) both and neither. I intend it to be useful to both Comparativists and Americanists, and I welcome weekly essays and term papers (see below) on the U.S., on given other countries, or on sets of countries. The course's domain is thematically, not geographically, defined. Our concern is with mass politics, wherever set. Among many other things, we shall read about and discuss Deliberative Polling, which can be viewed as a quasi-experiment designed above all to gauge political discussions and political sophistications effects on policy and electoral preferences, political tolerance, political participation, etc. There may be some possibility of using Deliberative Polling data for term papers. The course is a seminar, and students should come prepared to participate. I shall assign a grade for class participation, based on attendance and the quantity and quality of contributions to the discussion. One set of written assignments will be a weekly short essay of 1-2 single-spaced typed pages about the week's readings. The essay should culminate in a question suitable for class discussion. In addition, there will be a term paper, which should be empirically oriented, offering at minimum a detailed research design and preferably some analysis. Topics may concern the U.S., specific other countries, comparisons across countries, or general psychological mechanisms. I expect students to consult with me about their choice of topic and data and about other questions relating to their papers as necessary. I shall also arrange for statistical computing tutorials as necessary. The short essays will count for 40% combined, class participation for 15%, and the paper for 45%. (The first weeks essay will count toward your grade only if it helps your average.) Below are the texts I used the last time I taught this course. I expect to change the selection somewhat (Dalton, Lupia and McCubbins, and Zaller are pretty certain to remain), but these should give a flavor of the kinds of readings well be doing. I also assign a large number of journal articles.


Dalton, Russell J. 2002. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies, 3rd ed. New York: Seven Bridges Press. Inglehart, Ronald. 1997. Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Political, and Economic Change in 43 Societies. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Lupia, Arthur and Mathew D. McCubbins. 1998. The Democratic Dilemma : Can Citizens Learn What They Really Need to Know? New York: Cambridge University Press. Merrill, Samuel III and Bernard Grofman. 1999. A Unified Theory of Voting : Directional and Proximity Spatial Models. New York: Cambridge University Press Nie, Norman H., Jane Junn, and Kenneth Stehlik-Barry. 1996. Education and Democratic Citizenship in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Putnam, Robert D. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Renewal of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster. Rosenstone, Steven J. and John Mark Hansen. 1993. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York: Macmillan. Stimson, James A. 1999. Public Opinion in America: Moods, Cycles, and Swings. (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview. Zaller, John R. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York:


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