Political Science | Institutional Analysis and Governance
Y204 | 25741 | McGinnis


Political Science Y204 introduces students to important dilemmas of
politics and collective action in particular empirical contexts.
This semester we focus on the application of rational choice theory
to the study of religious belief, behavior, and organizations, and
to the consequences of religion for public policy more generally. We
will consider such questions as: What private and public goods (if
any) are most effectively produced by faith-based organizations?
Under what circumstances can political authorities effectively
manipulate the incentives of religious leaders so that their action
will contribute in a positive manner to socially desirable outcomes?
How do religious leaders respond to these efforts? What happens when
tensions between religious and political leaders escalate to
outright confrontations?

Readings will include Bickers and Williams, Public Policy Analysis:
A Political Economy Approach, Stark and Finke, Acts of Faith:
Explaining the Human Side of Religion, and other material that will
be posted on e-reserves. In addition to random in-class exercises,
students will complete 2 exams and a report applying the concepts
covered in this class to some faith-based organization of their own
choice (subject to constraints, of course). This course is required
in the interdepartmental major in political science and economics,
but it is open to all students. There are no prerequisites.