17.905 | Spring 2005 | Undergraduate

Forms of Political Participation: Old and New


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

How and why do we participate in public life? How do we get drawn into community and political affairs? In this course we examine the associations and networks that connect us to one another and structure our social and political interactions. Readings are drawn from a growing body of research suggesting that the social networks, community norms, and associational activities represented by the concepts of civil society and social capital can have important effects on the functioning of democracy, stability and change in political regimes, the capacity of states to carry out their objectives, and international politics.


For the second class session of each week, you will be expected to complete the vast majority of required reading and to contribute actively to class discussions. In order to facilitate discussion, you will be required to e-mail two discussion questions to me by noon of that day. During class discussion, “cold calls” will sometimes be used, although comments contributed will only help, not hurt, one’s grade.

There will be no final exam in this class. You will be required to write three papers of 1200-1800 words (about 4-6 pages). The first paper is due in class on Lecture 9. You will also be required to rewrite the first paper. The rewrite of the first paper is due in class on Lecture 13. The second and third papers are due on Lecture 19 and Lecture 25. Rewrites of the second and third papers are optional but can only improve your grade.


Papers and Rewrites 75%
Class Participation 25%

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2005
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples