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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Walter Lance Bennett
POL S 552
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Political Communication

Examination of current topics in the theory and practice of political communication.

Class description

Discourse, Power and Democracy: Neoliberalism in the US and Comparative Perspective

The focus of this course is how the broad discourses of neoliberal economics (e.g., market deregulation, privatization, and promotion of individual responsibility) became dominant in many nations during the recent historical era of "globalization" dating roughly from the 1970s through the current global economic crisis. One notable impact (among many) of these ideas on politics has been a dramatic increase in inequality in many of the postindustrial democracies, accompanied by rising political and economic instability and popular unrest. A key focus of this course is how this set of ideas became so pervasive and so widely coded into political policies and public life. A companion focus is to explore alternative discourses that point publics and elites toward more sustainable societies and economies that promise greater satisfaction for more people and greater compatibility with democratic values.

Student learning goals

1) explain how neo-liberalism became so entrenched both globally and nationally (e.g., by interacting with cultural discourses such as the American Dream and consumerism

2) explain how growing economic inequalities have affected the political and cultural foundations of democracy (and point to any discourses in the contemporary public sphere that address these problems)

3) what alternative discourses and practices seem to hold promise for rethinking our understanding of prosperity and economic vitality?

connecting various themes from the course to each studentí s research interests

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

In addition to participating in class discussions (20% of grade), students will write three short (2-3 pp.) analysis assignments (that count 15% each): 1) explain how neo-liberalism became so entrenched both globally and nationally (e.g., by interacting with cultural discourses such as the American Dream and consumerism), 2) explain how growing economic inequalities have affected the political and cultural foundations of democracy (and point to any discourses in the contemporary public sphere that address these problems), 3) what alternative discourses and practices seem to hold promise for rethinking our understanding of prosperity and economic vitality?

In addition, there will be a final paper (35% of grade) based on connecting various themes from the course to each studentí s research interests.


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 Walter Lance Bennett
Date: 10/29/2013