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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Paul Burstein
SOC 356
Seattle Campus

Society and Politics

Causes of political change in democratic countries, including public opinion, social movements, interest group activity, and party organization. Offered: jointly with POL S 356.

Class description

Do we have government "of the people, by the people, for the people"? Many Americans think not; they believe that the federal government ignores ordinary citizens, that Congress listens to interest groups rather than to the public, that institutions intended to make government responsive to the people are not working. Are the critics right? This course examines politics in the U.S., considering the rise of democratic government, the political issues fought over most intensely, and the difficulties involved in trying to enhance popular control of public policy in contemporary democracies. We will discuss what democracy is; what institutions are needed to make it work; how it depends on the feelings, beliefs, and actions of citizens; how responsive American government is to the public; and the role of political parties, interest groups, and social movement organizations in democratic government.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

lectures with considerable discussion mixed in; discussion sections with teaching assistants.

Recommended preparation

introductory course in sociology or American politics

Class assignments and grading

2 quizzes; final (essay) examination

25% of the grade depends on first quiz, 30% on the second, 35% on the final; second quiz and final are cumulative. 10% of grade based on participation in class and discussion section.


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.
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 07/08/2004