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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Joel S Migdal
POL S 542
Seattle Campus

Seminar: State and Society

Examines the mutually conditioning relationship between states and the societies they seek to govern. Studies states as large, complex organizations and their interactions with society on different levels. Shows that interactions on any level affect the nature of the state on other levels as well. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 542.

Class description

This seminar centers around the state-in-society approach, while introducing a variety of 20th and 21st century writers on state-society relations. It starts with some of the classic theories of social and political change in the works of Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Norbert Elias, written prior to World War II. Then the course turns to important figures in the post-War era, including Barrington Moore, Jr., Samuel P. Huntington, S.N. Eisenstadt, Edward Shils, and Timothy Mitchell. Following that, some 21st century writings using state-society approaches will be examined—including works by Jason Brownlee, Dan Slater, and Benjamin Smith. Some of this scholarship comes from writers who took earlier versions of this seminar.

Student learning goals

Classic approaches to comparative politics

State-in-society approach to comparative politics

Improved textual analysis skills

Improved skills in writing a research paper/journal article

General method of instruction

Student-led and instructor-led discussion of specific texts plus mini-lectures by the instructor.

Recommended preparation

Students should have taken several courses in comparative politics.

Class assignments and grading

The seminar is built around reading and writing. Most weeks, a single major book will be the center of class discussion. Some students will be asked to make class presentations. In terms of writing, students will be able to choose among four options (in all cases except Option B below, students are required to have topics for the longer papers approved by the instructor): * Option A: Students will write a 25-page seminar paper on state-society relations in a particular country (or countries). This paper may be the basis for a future published article and should be written with that goal in mind. In addition, three times over the course of the quarter, students will submit a two-page essay on the book being discussed that week (students can choose which weeks). * Option B: Students will write seven review essays on the readings. These will be due during any seven of the weeks in the quarter, as with the four two-page essays of Op¬tion A. Students choosing this option are encouraged to look at the review literature on the books and to incorporate that literature into their own critiques. These papers will be approximately five pages in length. * Option C: Students will write five two-page essays on the reading, as described in Option A. In addition, they will write a 15-page bibliographic essay on an aspect of the field of state-society relations. • Option D: Students will write a 25-page research design for the dissertation. In addi¬tion, they will write three two-page essays on the readings.

Grading: There will be a choice among several writing options, including smaller, text-based papers and a larger paper. Students will mostly be graded on the writing with about 10% of the grade on the basis of class discussion.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Joel S Migdal
Date: 02/10/2013