Skip Navigation

Spring 2011 - 61860 - PA383C - Politics and Process

Gender, Health & Society

Instructor(s): Angel, Jacqueline L.
Unique Number: 61860
Day & Time: W 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.216/219
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

This course acquaints students with how public policy develops and is adopted in the American governmental system. It is normally taken during the first year. The course helps students understand the different settings in which policy develops and the factors that influence its development. Each section of the course uses different substantive policy concerns such as international affairs, social policy, community engagement, and resource and environmental regulation to explore how individuals and institutions initiate and/or give legitimacy to public policy, including the executive and legislative branches, the courts, interest groups, and individual citizens. The course also covers the dynamics of the policy process by focusing on the roles of and relationships among various levels of government and the concepts and models used to describe these aspects of policy development. The roles of ideas, concepts, and formal methods of analysis in policy development are discussed. Reading assignments and class discussion focus on case studies, legislative hearings, policy-issue briefs, court decisions, and theoretical works which highlight and explain the development of particular public policies.

Section Description

This course examines the gender dimensions of health, illness, and the medical care industry in the United States and other developed nations. It is motivated by the fact that health, disease, and medical care have important gender-specific dimensions that are affected by economics, politics, and culture. Because of gender-based disadvantages in the labor force women, and especially minority women, are more likely than men to have low incomes and little wealth, particularly if they are unmarried with children. Poor women and families have often had to do without the medical care they need even as their children quality for Medicaid. The passage of health reform legislation has potentially important implications for poor women’s access to medical care since by 2014 all poor Americans will qualify for Medicaid or subsidized public insurance. During the course we will follow and discuss issues related to the implementation of health care reform and determine how our health care delivery system will be affected in the years to come. In the past the medical care system often ignored gender, as well as race-based differences in health care needs. Early studies of heart disease risks were, for example, based on samples of white men.  Today, the National Institutes of Health and other funding agencies are aware of these shortcomings and are addressing these issues head on. During the course we will examine these initiatives in detail.

These gaps in knowledge concerning risks and appropriate treatments have very specific consequences that we will investigate. The collection of readings will allow us to examine the social institutions that shape men’s and women’s health and health care. Specific topics will include reproductive health, single motherhood and the stress of raising children alone, welfare and health care, divorce and changes in health, certain illnesses that women experience including breast and ovarian cancer, drug and alcohol abuse, and the forces that influence research into women’s health problems. In addition, we examine the role of women as major actors in changing the health care system, reducing health risks for themselves and their families, and their roles as health care providers, public administrators, and leaders in the health care establishment. We will also touch upon the role of local, state and federal agencies in health policy formulation and implementation, the politics of the medicalization of women’s issues including childbirth, refugee and immigrant women's health, and more.

The second objective of the course is for students to develop an understanding of the major sources of health data (e.g., demographic statistics, administrative records, health surveys, etc.). Our objective is to develop a critical understanding of the appropriate use of health-related data and to determine how they can best be used to evaluate a broad array of public policies related to women’s health care. 

Finally, the course will examine the role of different levels and branches of government, including the presidency, Congress, the courts, and the bureaucracy, in the formation of public policy. Alternative political ideologies regarding state and private responsibility for women’s health will be compared and contrasted. Similarly we will assess the relative power of key non-governmental actors, such as interest groups, health care NPOs, researchers, and the media in the definition and framing of our health agenda.

Required Text:

Bird, C.E. and P.P. Rieker. 2008. Gender and Health: The Effects of Constrained Choices and Social Policies. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Freund, P., B. McGuire, and L. Podhurst. 2003. Health, Illness, and the Social Body: A Critical Sociology (4thed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Kingdon, J.W. 2003. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. New York: Addison-Wesley.

Stone, D. 2001. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.