Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
There are no prerequisites for this course.
This is an undergraduate class on the role of race and ethnicity in American politics.There are no official prerequisites, but a basic understanding of American political institutions (as would be gained from 17.20 Introduction to American Politics) will be helpful, as will a willingness to engage with complex reading material. The focus will be on political science theories and research about race and politics, though we will also draw on work from sociology, history, and economics.
We will ask big social science questions about race in America: What is “race”? How could we possibly measure it, and does it really matter? What does it mean to say that a policy is discriminatory, and how have social scientists and courts tried to measure racial discrimination? What do Americans think about race in the 21st century, and how do these opinions shape their voting and protest behavior?
After taking this course, students will be able to discuss different ways of imagining race and ethnicity, and their historical underpinnings. They will be able to describe and critique the ways in which racial attitudes are theorized and measured, and think about how these different attitudes are expected to shape political behavior. And they will be familiar with key debates about race in politics, and will be able to talk about the pros and cons of various social science approaches to studying race and its effects.
Expectations and Coursework
My general expectation is that you will come to class prepared to fully participate. This means being on time and keeping electronic distractions to a minimum. It also means treating your classmates with respect, and listening to and engaging meaningfully with them when they speak.
Students are expected to complete all assigned readings and pre-class activities and come to class meetings. In addition, there will be two short papers (5–10 pages) assigned during the semester, and a final exam during exam period.
There will also be occasional reading quizzes, in which students will be asked to answer a few multiple choice questions about the readings before class begins. These will probably not be part of the final course grade, but are intended to help both students and teaching staff keep tabs on the students’ comprehension of the material. However, if I get the sense that no one is doing the reading, I reserve the right to include the reading quizzes in the final exam grade. I hope not to.
Unless an assignment is explicitly labelled as collaborative, I expect that each person will present only their own work. Any work completed for another class must be disclosed (don’t turn in the same paper or assignment for two different courses without prior approval). No assignments will be accepted late unless a prior extension was granted, or where required by institute policy. Makeup exams will only be provided as required by institute policy.
For more information on the course assignments, see the Assignments section.
|SES #||TOPICS||KEY DUE DATES|
|Module I: What is Race?|
|History / International Comparisons|
|2||The American Racial Order|
|3||A Little History: How Did We Get Here?|
|Measurement and Policy|
|4||How Do We Measure Race / Ethnicity?|
|Social Science Challenges|
|6||Discrimination and Causality||Paper assignment 1 distributed|
|Module II: Public Opinion and Behavior|
|Racial Attitudes: Measurement and Effects|
|8||Introduction to Racial Attitudes|
|9||Linking Attitudes to Outcomes|
|10||Campaigns, Advertising, Media||Paper assignment 1 due|
|Race in Context|
|11||Context and Conflict|
|12||Context and Attitudes / Action|
|Patterns in Participation and Mobilization|
|13||Stylized Facts / Overview of Group Participation|
|14||Factors in Turnout||Paper assignment 2 distributed|
|15||Other Political Behaviors|
|16||Does Protest Work?|
|Module III: Political Elites and Institutions|
|Descriptive Representation: Concept & Practice|
|17||Descriptive Representation: Theory and Empirics|
|18||Majority-Minority Districts||Paper assignment 2 due|
|Voting Rights and Electoral Districting|
|19||Overview of Voting Rights and Electoral Districting|
|Race and the Political System|
|20||Race and Political Parties|
|21||Courts; Broad Review|
|Race and Policy|
|22||Overview of Race and Policy|
Carceral State 1: Film Screening
13th. Directed by Ava Duvernay. Color, 100 min. 2016.
|24||Carceral State 2: Political Causes|
|25||Carceral State 3: Political Consequences|