Political Science | Theoretical Adv In Political Behavior Research (3 cr)
Y673 | 3591 | Huckfeldt

What is the role of citizens in democratic politics? This question is
neither rhetorical nor wholly normative in its implications.  Rather, it is
directly related to the capacities and potential of citizens, both
collectively and individually, to play a meaningful role in their own
governance.  The question has been addressed from a number of perspectives,
but during the past 50 years there has been an explosion of efforts aimed at
an empirical understanding of the political behavior of democratic
electorates.  Such research has produced an immense impact, not only on our
understanding of political behavior, but also on our expectations of
democratic politics and democratic citizenship.
This seminar examines recent theoretical developments in the study of
political behavior.  Such an undertaking is quite rewarding because it
exposes the participant to recent and often exciting developments in the
field.  The danger of such an effort is that it might ignore the
intellectual foundations for political behavior research and thus compromise
the cumulative potential of our discipline.  In order to avoid such a
danger, we will make a significant effort to backfill and augment an
appreciation of intellectual roots and their relationship to current trends
in research.
The reading list places particular emphases on economic, psychological and
sociological conceptions of politics and political behavior.  This should
not be conceived as an effort to place these perspectives in competing
positions with respect to one another.  Indeed, regardless of the sparks and
barbs that sometimes fly between advocates of the various perspectives, one
of the things that emerges quite clearly from our seminar readings is the
cross fertilization that occurs between perspectives and the convergence
that sometimes emerges as a result.
Several issues and themes continue to appear and reappear: the availability,
acquisition, and processing of political information; the dynamics that
underlie citizen decision-making; the relationship of individuals to
aggregates; alternative conceptions of citizen rationality.  Our goal is to
examine the manner in which the various perspectives toward political
behavior shed light on these issues, as well as the ways in which the
perspectives encourage investigators to ask different questions and engage
in alternative conceptualizations of political processes and phenomena.
Each student is required to write an empirically based research paper that
will serve as a major evaluative component of seminar performance. Seminar
performance will also serve as a basis for student evaluation, and students
will submit a memorandum for each seminar meeting that responds to the
week's reading.