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

Spring 2008

GOV 379S • Citizins in Democratic Politics-Honors

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39480 T
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
GAR 2.108

Course Description

This course juxtaposes the expectations of citizen behavior in normative theories of democracy with empirical evidence about how democratic citizens actually behave, examining each in light of the otherasking, on the one hand, what the actual effects of given prescriptions are likely to be and, on the other hand, how given empirical patterns should be valued. Among other topics, we shall consider political participation, political knowledge and sophistication, voting behavior in elections and referenda, political tolerance, social capital and political trust, sociotropism and public-spiritedness, public opinion, discussion and deliberation, partisanship and polarization, and the effects of election campaigns and media behavior. The class is a seminar, and I expect students to participate in the discussion. Not just to talk for the sake of talking, of course, but to make sensible, insightful contributions. Please keep up with and be prepared to discuss the readings. That will also make writing the paper (see below), less of a painful rush. I'd suggest taking note, as you read, of claims and arguments you find particularly interesting, important, or questionable (and why). There will be written assignments of two sorts: weekly, short reaction "reaction papers" and a term paper. The reactions papers, of one or at most two single-spaced typed pages, should be based on the week's readings and culminate in a question suitable for class discussion. The term paper, of 15-20 double-spaced typed pages, should focus on a topic at the intersection of democratic theory and relevant empirical work, although it may lean heavily toward one or the other. The grading will be based on the term paper, the reaction papers, and class participation, in that order.



The books we read and discuss are likely to include the following. (This is a tentative list.) There will also be a good many readings from articles. Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism: On Liberty; Considerations on Representative Govt. J.M. Dent & Sons. Dahl, Robert A. A Preface to Democratic Theory Posner, Richard A. Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy Mutz, Diana C. 2006. Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Delli Carpini, Michael X. and Scott Keeter. What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Fishkin, James S. and Peter Laslett (eds.). 2003. Deliberating Deliberative Democracy. London, UK: Blackwell.


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