SOC 308C • Sociology of Democracy
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Despite numerous claims otherwise by interested scholars and concerned social movements, democracy remains at the forefront of US social structure. Whether as a cultural code and socially accepted value, as a political institution connoting legitimacy, or as an economic ally of capitalism and globalization, there is no denying that the study of US society requires a sustained analysis of democratic theory and practice. What does democracy mean to the social structure of US society? Which institutions and organizations are particularly relevant when assessing democratic outcomes? This course is designed to explore the relevant social structures that shape the character of democracy in the US - how elites talk about it, as well as how social groups and individuals experience it. We will look at scholars who consider American democracy under threat, as well as scholars who see democracy emerging with new technologies and opportunities for widespread social interaction unlike ever before. We will look at organizations--news media, governments, corporations, and others--that both constrain and enable public participation in the processes that decide the structure of society. The course will have four sections. First we will explore theories of democracy and power and the sociological approach to understanding such issues. The second section will look at key political institutions and organizations--law, government, and foreign policy. The third section will look at how economic organizations and globalization shape democratic outcomes. The final section will look at cultural structures--mass media and educational organizations--that socialize individuals into the broader democratic culture.
1. Provide understanding of democratic theory, highlighting the different ways scholars conceptualize democracy, with a particular emphasis on how the sociological method differs from other approaches.
2. Provide understanding of theories of power and identify empirical illustrations of the varyious ways political, economic, and cultural institutions and organizations shape democratic outcomes.
3. Explore the changing relationship between publics and elites within the context of democratic norms and expectations, paying sustained attention to both the shared and the contradictory interests of publics and elites.
Course packet made of parts of articles and papers put together and compiled by instructor.