PSCI 315 Parties in American Politics (W)

Last offered Spring 2014

Political parties have played a central role in extending democracy and organizing power in the United States, yet their worth is a continuing subject of debate. In one ideal formulation, parties not only link citizens to their government, they also provide the coherency and unity needed to govern in a political system in which power is widely dispersed. But there is also an American tradition of antipathy toward parties. They have been criticized by some for inflaming divisions among the people and for grid-locking the government. For others, political parties fail to offer citizens meaningful choices; the Republican and Democratic parties are likened to a choice between "tweedledee and tweedledum." This course will investigate this debate over parties by examining their nature and role in American political life, both past and present. How have the parties changed over time? Throughout the course, we will explore such questions as: What constitutes a party? How have the parties changed over time? For whom do they function? Why a two-party system, and what role do third parties play? Is partisanship good or bad for democracy? For governance? We will seek answers to these questions both in seminar discussion and through substantial independent research projects.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly writing assignments, two 5-page papers, one 15-20 page paper, class presentation, and class participation
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Prerequisites: PSCI course at the 200 or 300 level or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II, Writing Intensive
Other Attributes: POEC U.S. Political Economy + Public Policy Course,PSCI American Politics Courses,PSCI Research Courses
Enrollment Limit: 14
Expected Enrollment: 14
Class Number: 3451
PSCI 315 LEC Parties in American Politics (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive Nicole E. Mellow
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