17.20 | Spring 2004 | Undergraduate

Introduction to the American Political Process





Part 1: Introduction and Preliminariesa


What is the Role of Government?

Wilson, James. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. New York: Basic Books, 1989. Chapter 19.

U.S. Constitution.

Part 2: Institutions and American Politics


Understanding Institutions: The Median Voter Theorem

Stewart, Charles. Analyzing Congress. New York: Norton, 2001. Chapter 1.


Agenda Setting: The Committee Model

Krehbiel, Keith. Pivotal Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Chapters 1-2.

Fenno. Congressmen in Committees. Boston: Boston, Little, and Brown, 1973. Chapter 1.


Making Legislation: Veto Players

Cameron, Charles. Veto Bargaining. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Chapters 1, 3, 5, 8 and 9.


Making Legislation: Ideas and Policy Entrepreneurs

Kingdon, John. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. New York: Longman, 2003. Chapters 1, 4, 8 and 9.


The Preferences of Policymakers: Elections and Responsiveness

Fiorina, Morris. “The Decline of Collective Responsibility in American Politics.” Daedalus Summer, 1980:25-46.

Ansolabehere, Steve, Jim Snyder, and Charles Stewart. “Candidate Positions in Congressional Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 45: 136-159.

Part 3: Public Opinion, Elections, and Democracy


Campaigns and Elections

Larry, Bartels. “Candidate Choice and the Dynamics of the Presidential Nominating Process.” American Journal of Political Science 31: 1-30.

Gellman, Andrew, and Gary King. “Why Are American Presidential Election Campaign Polls so Variable When Votes Are so Predictable?” British Journal of Political Science 23:409–451.


The Measure and Meaning of Public Opinion

Brady, Henry, and Gary Orren. Media Polls in American Politics. Edited by Mann, and Orren. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution, 1992. Chapter 4.

Zaller, John. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Chapters 2-4.


The Structure of Public Opinion

Kinder, Donald. “Opinion and Action in the Realm of Politics.” in Handbook of Social Psychology, 4th Edition. Edited by Daniel Todd Gilbert, Susan T. Fiske, and Gardner Lindzey, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988. pp. 778-867.


Understanding Public Opinion and American Politics: War and Race

Mueller, John. “Trends in Popular Support for the Wars in Vietnam and Korea.” The American Political Science Review , 65 (June,  1971), 358-375.

Zaller, John. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Chapter 9.

Kinder, Donald R. and Lynn M. Sanders. Divided by Color. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Chapters 4 and 7.

Part 4: Personal Interests and Political Equality


Mobilization of Interests

Olson, Mancur. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971. Chapters 1 and 2.

Kritzer. “The Government Gorilla: Why Does Government Come Out Ahead?” in In Litigation: Do the ‘Haves’ Still Come Out Ahead? Edited by Herbert M. Kritzer and Susan S. Silbey,  Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003. pp.342-370.


Participation and the Political System

Rosenstone, Steven and John Mark Hansen. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, 1996. Chapters 4-6.

Dahl, Robert. Who Governs. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Chapters 1, 19, 24, 27 and 28.

Part 5: American Politics: Bringing it all Together


The Welfare Implications of Government

Dahl, Robert. How Democratic is the American Constitution? Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1980. (Entire)



Course Info

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Spring 2004
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Lecture Notes
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