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

Fall 2005

GOV 379S • Political Elites/Political Change-Honors-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37890 W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
BUR 128

Course Description

Contains a substantial writing component and fulfills part of the basic education requirement in writing. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. What happens among tiny groups with the organized capacity to shape political outcomes regularly and seriously - elites - is the bulk of every country's politics. Democratic, Marxist, modernization, and other paradigms and theories have long denied this, claiming that what mass publics think and do or what happens in economics are the main components of politics. Not so, says elite theory, although the overriding importance of elites is no cause for rejoicing. This seminar will expose students to classical and contemporary elite theory and analysis. During its first third, we will consider early formulations of elite theory, especially Pareto's 1915 treatise The Mind and Society, and we'll study exemplifications of the theory during the 20th century's interwar period. The seminar's middle third will be devoted to studying the elite foundations of liberal democracies. Its final third will consider a hypothesized resurgence of elite rule to today's western democracies. The seminar will thus be concerned with the broad comparative and historical study of politics.

Grading Policy

1. Three 10-page papers, typed and double-spaced, due on specified dates at roughly the end of the semester's full months. Each paper will be worth 30% of the final grade. 2. Late papers will automatically receive a letter grade reduction. 3. Command of assigned readings in weekly seminar discussions, worth 10% of the final grade. 4. Students will be allowed only one non-explained absence from weekly seminar meetings.


G. William Domhoff. Who Rules America? McGraw-Hill, 2005 (Fifth edition). John Higley and Michael Burton. The Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracies. Co-op Custom Publishing, 2005. Samuel P. Hutington. Who Are We? Simon & Shuster, 2004. Robert O. Paxton. The Anatomy of Fascism. Knopf, 2004. Vilfredo Pareto. Sociological Writings. Edited by S.E. Finer. Rowman & Littlefield, 1965 (in Co-op Custom Publishing reprinting). Fareed Zakaria. The Future of Freedom. Norton, 2003. Malise Ruthven. Fundamentalism. Oxford University Press, 2004.


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