Field Seminar in American Politics:Contemporary American Politics & the 2012 Election
This course analyzes
the main forms and dynamics of politics in the United States. The 2012 presidential election provides a
compelling opportunity to look at political competition, policy debates, and
political and cultural commitments.
Within this framework we look at five subjects: political institutions;
economic policy; American foreign policy and the role of the U.S. in the
contemporary world; political participation; and political culture.
How do political
institutions work (or not?). What, if
anything, produces sufficient order within and across political institutions to
sustain a constitutional regime? We will
consider the widely-discussed polarization in recent American politics, both in
terms of parties and public opinion.Why have government
economic policies not produced a more rapid or significant recovery from the
long and deep recession of the last few years in the U.S.?As the 2012 election
campaign unfolds, what are the main continuities and discontinuities between
the foreign policies of the Obama administration and its predecessor?How do we understand
the low (though increasing) rates of voting in the United States alongside
robust forms of civic engagement and interest group and movement activity? In what sense should
American political culture be regarded as basically liberal? In what ways does the growth and influence of
the Tea Party movement confirm or disturb this view?
This course is open
to MA and Ph.D. students. Its main
subject is American politics – we also assess the academic field of American
politics. The course will provide a
significant part of the necessary preparation for the American Politics Ph.D.
field exam, both in its subjects and its requirements.