Political Science | American Politics: Behavioral Implications of Institutions
Y661 | 15798 | --


Topic:  Behavioral Implications of Institutions

Although governmental institutions and voter behavior are often
analyzed separately, they are inextricably connected. Individual
behavior is constrained by existing institutions, and the way
politicians function in governmental institutions is, in turn,
constrained by voter behavior. In this course we will merge these
two topics to consider precisely how long-standing governmental
rules and structures affect the way ordinary individuals respond to
modern-day problems and, from a different perspective, how
individual behavior affects the way politicians use the constraints
of government to make policy.  For example, while the voters of many
states are against same-sex marriage, only an analysis of state-
level institutions can explain why in some states the majority
opinion on same-sex marriage translated into a constitutional
amendment and in some states the same majority appears powerless.
In this course we will consider the effects of numerous governmental
institutions and structures at both the federal and state level:
from legislative rules, the party system, and a national Election
Day to federalism and representative democracy. We will also apply
this approach to specific policy issues, which will give us the
chance to see how the relationship between institutions and behavior
has affected such modern-day political debates as same-sex marriage,
education policy and health care policy.  Finally, in the last
section of the course, we will put American government into a
comparative perspective and consider how governmental structures can
explain behavior differences between America and other democratic
nations.