Draft -- Subject to Revision before Course Starts






T-Th 1:30-3:20 Autumn Quarter 1999

Gould 317 -- 5 credits

Professor Stephen Majeski

Gowen Hall 39



office hours: M, TH 11-12

or by appointment

About the course: This course focuses on the central research approaches scholars employ in political science. It introduces students to how political scientists analyze and attempt to understand political phenomena. The course begins with a short introduction to science and social science as a social activity. Next, the fundamentals of causal and interpretative explanation are addressed and then methodological individualism and methodological holism are discussed followed by a discussion of various forms of social theorizing and the agent-structure problem. Then a set of nine main research approaches of political science are examined in some detail. Exemplary works for each approach are selected as the primary reading material. Also, faculty from the department whose work exemplifies various approaches will participate in discussion of their own research.

Course requirements: Students are expected to attend seminar meetings and to participate actively in seminar discussions. The presumption is that students will have completed all assigned reading in advance of seminar meetings. You will be asked to submit three (3) response papers on the readings during the course of the quarter. Each of these papers has a maximum length limit of seven (7) pages. In most cases, response papers should engage the complete set of readings assigned for a specific topic (e.g., "interpretation theory," "comparative methods and case analysis," "Rational Choice Approaches"), even if one specific article, excerpt, or issue is the focus of the paper. It is in the student's interest to spread these papers out over the course of the quarter rather than to hand them in during the last week of classes. The first response paper must be written from topics covered in Sections I, II, or III of the course. The second response paper must be written about topics covered in Sections IV A, B, C, or D of the course. The third response paper must be written about materials covered in Sections IV E, F, G, H, or I of the course. Response papers are due no later than one week after the material has been covered in the course and none will be accepted after December 15th. Failure to follow these instructions will result in a grade of 0.0 for a response paper with no opportunity to alter that grade. Each student must complete a 30 minute individual oral final exam with the instructor. These exams will be scheduled during final exam week (December 9-16th).

Grading: Final grades will be based on the quality of student participation in seminar discussions (20%), the three response papers (60%) and a 30 minute oral individual final exam (20%). Please note that University policy on the grade of "incomplete" will be followed in this course. As stated on p. 33 of the UW General Catalogue: "An incomplete is given only when the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work until within two weeks of the end of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control."

Reading: All course readings are contained in a reading packet. The reading packet will be available from the instructor prior to or at the beginning of the quarter.

Schedule of Assigned Readings, Seminar Topics, and Invited Faculty

Tuesday, September 28: Overview of Class - During the course of the quarter, I urge you to read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, Chapters 1 and 3 of How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker, and pp. 13-82, and 403- 425 of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

I. Two Basic Types of Social Explanation

A. Causal Analysis

Thursday, September 30:

D. Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Chapter 1

M. Hollis, The Philosophy of Social Science Chapter 3

Tuesday, October 5

J. Elster, Explaining Technical Change, pp. 25-48

A. Rosenberg, Philosophy of Social Science Chapter 2, pp. 22-30 and chapter 3.

B. Interpretation Theory

Thursday, October 7:

Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Chapter 4

A. Rosenberg, Philosophy of Social Science, Chapter 4

C. Taylor, "Interpretation and the Sciences of Man"

Tuesday, October 12:

P. Ricoeur, "The Model of the Text: Meaningful Action Considered as a Text"

J. Scott, Weapons of the Weak Chs. 2,8.

II. Methodological Individualism and Methodological Holism

Thursday, October 14:

M. Hollis, Philosophy of Social Science Chapter 1.

M. Brodbeck, Reading In the Philosophy of Social Sciences (selections)

S. Lukes, "Methodological Individualism Reconsidered"

Tuesday, October 19:

III. Social Theory – Approaches and Agents and Structures

M. Lichbach, "Social Theory and Comparative Politics," in M. Lichbach and A. Zuckerman Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure, 1997, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 239-276.

Wendt, "The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations Theory," International Organization, 1987, 41: 335-370.


IV. Various Forms of Social Explanation Employed in Political Science

A. Functional and Structural Explanation

Thursday, October 21

Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Chapter 5

J. Elster, Explaining Technical Change, pp. 49-68

Tuesday, October 26:

T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions, pp. 3-111

Waltz, Theory of International Politics, pp. 79-128

Thursday, October 28:

R. Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation pp. 3-69

J. Epstein and R. Axtell, Growing Artificial Societies, pp. 1-20

B. Social Constructivism

Tuesday, November 2: Guest: Elizabeth Kier

E. Adler, "Seizing the Middle Ground: Constructivism in World Politics," European Journal of International Relations, 1997, 3: 319-363.

A. Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics," International Organization 46, 1992, pp. 391-425

E. Kier, Imagining War – selections

C. Rational Choice Theory

Thursday, November 4:

Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Chapter 3

J. Elster, Explaining Technical Change, pp. 69-88

Tuesday, November 9: Guest: Tony Gill No Class Thursday November 11 – Holiday

A. Gill, Rendering Unto Caesar: The Political Economy of Church-State Relations Postscript and Appendix – pp. 187-202.

A.. Gill, "the Economics of Evangelization" Typescript.

A. Keshavarzian and T. Gill, "State-Building and Religious Resources; …" Typescript.

D. Behavioral and Statistical Analysis

Tuesday, November 16: Guest: Bryan Jones

Little, Varieties of Social Explanation, Chapter 8

B. Jones et al. "Does Incrementalism Stem from Political Consensus or From Institutional Gridlock" " American Journal of Political Science 1997, 41: pp. 1319-1339.

B. Jones et al. "Policy Punctuations: U.S. Budget Authority, 1947-1995," Journal of Politics, 1998, 60, pp.1-33.

E . Experimentation

Thursday, November 18: Guest: Adam Simon

Kinder and T. Palfrey, Experimental Foundations of Political Science,

Gilliam et al. "Crime in Black and White:.." Press/Politics 1996, 1: 6-23.

S. Ansolabehere et al. "Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate?" American Political Science Review, 1994, 88: 829-838.

F. Comparative Methods and Case Analysis

Tuesday, November 23: Guest: Steve Hanson No Class Thursday November 25th

A. Przeworski and H. Teune, The Logic of Comparative Social Inquiry, Chapters 1 and 2.

S.Hanson and J. Kopstein "The Weimer/Russia Comparison "

G. Normative Political Theory

Tuesday November 30: Guest: Mika LaVaque-Manty

D. Glaser, "Normative Theory" Ch. 1.

M. LaVaque-Manty, No Secret Agents: A Liberal Theory of Political Action. Selections

H. Race and Class

Thursday , December 2: Guest: Andrea Simpson

A. Simpson, The Tie that Binds, (selections)

J. Kuklinski and M. Cobb, "Racial Attitudes and the ‘New South’," The Journal of Politics (1997), 59: 323-349.

I. Feminist Approaches

Tuesday , December 7: Guest: Christine Di Stefano

S.J. Carroll and L.M.G. Zerilli, "Feminist Challenges to Political Science," in Ada Finifter, ed., Political Science: The State of the Discipline

N. Hartsock, "The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism," and "The Feminist Standpoint Revisited"

C. Di Stefano, "Masculine Marx," in M. Shanley and C. Pateman, Feminist Interpretations of Political Theory, pp. 146-163.