17.317 | Spring 2006 | Undergraduate

U.S. Social Policy


All readings assigned in the course are required. A detailed list of readings by session is available below.

Discussion questions accompany each set of readings. A complete list of all discussion questions is also available (PDF).

Required Textbooks

Arnold, R. Douglas. The Logic of Congressional Action. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780300048346.

Baumgartner, Frank R., and Bryan D. Jones. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN: 9780226039381.

Campbell, Andrea Louise. How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Citizen Activism and the American Welfare State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780691091891.

Readings by Session

LEC # TOPICS READINGS Discussion Questions
1 Introduction    
Part I: American Exceptionalism and a Case: Why No National Health Insurance in the United States?
2-3 U.S. Health Policy

Skocpol, Theda. Boomerang: Health Care Reform and the Turn Against Government. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997, Introduction, pp. 1-19. ISBN: 9780393315721.

Blendon, Robert J., and John M. Benson. “Americans’ Views on Health Policy: A Fifty-Year Historical Perspective.” Health Affairs 20, no. 2 (March-April 2001): 33-46.

Steinmo, Sven, and Jon Watts. “It’s the Institutions Stupid! Why Comprehensive National Health Insurance Fails in America.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 20 (Summer 1995): 329-72.

Part II: Preferences, Participation, and Representation
4 Who Participates?

Schlozman, Kay Lehman, Henry E. Brady, and Sidney Verba. “The Big Tilt: Participatory Inequality in America.” The American Prospect 8, no. 32 (May-June 1997): 74-80.

Rosenstone, Steven, and John Mark Hansen. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York, NY: MacMillan, 1993, chapter 4, pp. 71-127. ISBN: 9780024036605.

5 Who Gets Represented? The Case of Social Security Campbell, Andrea Louise. How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Citizen Activism and the American Welfare State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003, chapters 1-5, pp. 1-114. ISBN: 9780691091891. (PDF)
6 Who Gets Represented? The Case of Tax Cuts and Other Policies

Gilens, Martin. “Public Opinion and Democratic Responsiveness: Who Gets What They Want from Government?” Paper presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL, September 2-5, 2004.

Hacker, Jacob, and Paul Pierson. “Abandoning the Middle: The Bush Tax Cuts and the Limits of Democratic Control.” Perspectives on Politics 3 (March 2005): 33-53.

7 Interest Groups I

Olson, Mancur. “The Logic of Collective Action.” In Rational Man and Irrational Society: An Introduction and Sourcebook. Edited by Brian Barry and Russell Hardin. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1982, pp. 43-50. ISBN: 9780803918504.

Skocpol, Theda. “Associations without Members.” The American Prospect (July-August 1999): 66-73.

Berry, Jeffrey M. “Subgovernments, Issue Networks, and Political Conflict.” In Remaking American Politics. Edited by Richard A. Harris and Sidney Milkis. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989, pp. 239-60. ISBN: 9780813304953.

8 Interest Groups II: Business vs. Labor

Judis, John B. “Abandoned Surgery: Business and the Failure of Health Care Reform.” The American Prospect 6, no. 21 (March 21, 1995): 65-73.

Levi, Margaret. “Organizing Power: The Prospects for an American Labor Movement.” Perspectives on Politics 1 (March 2003): 45-68.

9-10 Public Opinion and Preference Formation: The Case of Universal vs. Targeted Programs

Gilens, Martin. “Political Ignorance and Collective Policy Preferences.” American Political Science Review 91 (2001): 379-96.

Page, Benjamin I., and Robert Y. Shapiro. The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans’ Policy Preferences. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992, chapter 10, pp. 383-98. ISBN: 9780226644776.

Cook, Fay Lomax, and Edith J. Barrett. Support for the American Welfare State: The Views of Congress and the Public. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1992, chapter 3, pp. 58-93, and portion of chapter 4, pp. 94-106. ISBN: 9780231076180.

Gilens, Martin. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999, chapters 3 and 5, pp. 60-79 and 102-131. ISBN: 9780226293646.

Part III: The Policy-Making Process
11 Problem Definition and Agenda Setting I: The Case of Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

Kingdon, John W. Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1997, chapter 9, pp. 196-208. ISBN: 9780673523891.

Campbell, Andrea Louise, and Kimberly Morgan. “The Shifting Line between Public and Private: The Politics of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act and Prescription Drug Reform.” Paper presented at the Social Science History Association Annual Meeting. Portland, OR, November 3-6, 2005.

12 Problem Definition and Agenda Setting II Baumgartner, Frank R., and Bryan D. Jones. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1993, chapters 2, 5, and 6, pp. 6-9. ISBN: 9780226039381. (PDF)
13 Policy-Relevant Institutions: Congress I Arnold, R. Douglas. The Logic of Congressional Action. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990, chapters 1-5, pp. 3-115. ISBN: 9780300048346. (PDF)
14 Policy-Relevant Institutions: Congress II; The Case of the Hidden Welfare State

Weaver, R. Kent. “The Politics of Blame.” Brookings Review 5 (Spring 1987): 43-47.

Wilson, William Julius. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990, chapters 1 and 9, pp. 9-12, 14-16, 17-39, and 175-92. ISBN: 9780226901312.

15 Policy-Relevant Institutions: The Courts; The Case of Welfare Rights Melnick, R. Shep. Between the Lines: Interpreting Welfare Rights. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1994, chapters 1-3, pp. 3-61. ISBN: 9780815756644. (PDF)
Part IV: Policy in Practice
16 Implementation: The Case of Rehabilitation in Prison Lin, Ann Chih. Reform in the Making: The Implementation of Social Policy in Prison. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000, chapters 3 and 4. ISBN: 9780691009841. (PDF)
17 Policy Design

Schneider, Anne, and Helen Ingram. “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy.” American Political Science Review 87 (1993): 334-47.

Skocpol, Theda. “Targeting within Universalism: Politically Viable Policies to Combat Poverty in the United States.” In The Urban Underclass. Edited by Christopher Jencks and Paul E. Peterson. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1991, pp. 411-36. ISBN: 9780815746065.

Peterson, Paul E. “Who Should Do What? Divided Responsibility in the Federal System.” Brookings Review (Spring 1995): 6-11.

18 The Consequences of Policy Design: The Cases of Welfare and the G.I. Bill

Soss, Joe. “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning, and Political Action.” American Political Science Review 93 (June 1999): 363-380.

Mettler, Suzanne. “Bringing the State Back In to Civic Engagement: Effects of the G.I. Bill for World War II Veterans.” American Political Science Review 96 (June 2002): 351-65.

19 Public-Private Relations

Dobbin, Frank. “Is America Becoming More Exceptional? How Public Policy Corporatized Social Citizenship.” In Restructuring the Welfare State: Political Institutions and Policy Change. Edited by Bo Rothstein and Sven Steinmo. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002, pp. 51-77. ISBN: 9780312296285.

Starr, Paul. “End of the Private New Deal.” The American Prospect 17, no. 7 (June 20, 2005): 3.

Lowenstein, Roger. “The End of Pensions?” New York Times Magazine (October 30, 2005).

20 The Working Years: Unemployment, Disability Insurance, and the EITC

Graetz, Michael J., and Jerry L. Mashaw. True Security. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999, chapter 4, pp. 69-91. ISBN: 9780300081503.

McIntyre, Robert S. “A Pay Day Bonus.” The American Prospect (September 1, 2004).

Bhargava, Deepak. “How Much is Enough.” The American Prospect (September 1, 2004).

21 Gender in U.S. Social Policy: The Case of Family and Medical Leave

Bernstein, Anya. The Moderation Dilemma: Legislative Coalitions and the Politics of Family and Medical Leave. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001, chapter 2, pp. 28-46. ISBN: 9780822941576.

Meyers, Marcia K., and Janet C. Gornick. “The European Model.” The American Prospect (November 2, 2004).

Mettler, Suzanne. Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998, chapter 9, pp. 211-31. ISBN: 9780801433290.

22 Education Policy: Vouchers

Chubb, John E., and Terry M. Moe. “Better Schools through New Institutions: Giving Americans Choice.” Chapter 6 in Schools, Vouchers, and the American Public. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2002, pp. 185-229. ISBN: 9780815758075.

Howell, William G., and Paul E. Peterson. “The Urban Test Score Gap.” Chapter 6 in The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools. Revised ed. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006, pp. 140-67. ISBN: 9780815736851.

23 Education Policy: Federal College Loans

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “Losing Ground: A National Status Report on the Affordability of American Higher Education.” San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2002.

Hearn, James C. “The Growing Loan Orientation in Federal Financial Aid Policy: A Historical Perspective.” In Foundations of American Higher Education. 2nd ed. Edited by James L. Bess and David S. Webster. Boston, MA: Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN: 9780536018533.

24-25 Course Conclusion: The Future of American Social Policy

Mettler, Suzanne. “‘A Sense of the State:’ Tracking the Role of the American Federal Government in Citizens’ Lives over Time.” Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Annual National Conference. Chicago, IL, April 3-6, 2003.

Hacker, Jacob. “False Positive.” The New Republic (August 16, 2004).

Hacker, Jacob S. The Divided Welfare State: The Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2002, chapter 7, pp. 313-35. ISBN: 9780521812887.