Rev 8/22/2020

Soc 9N reading questions. These questions are here to guide you if you are stuck, but you are not obligated to answer them or address them.


Week 1

Reading Assignment

Sept 15


Sept 17

On democratic theory. Reading: Dahl, Who Governs? Book I and II, chapters 1-12



What are the social and economic powers in US society that make US society less democratic?


For context: How was the Democratic Party of the 1950s different from the Democratic party of today?


Who are the different kinds of elites whose empowerment would make the US less democratic?


What are the axioms of the political class (ch. 8), and who in todayís US political class fails to subscribe to them?


What is cumulative inequality and why is it antidemocratic? What is dispersed inequality?


What is Dahlís evidence from New Haven that the rich and powerful do not, in fact, run everything?



Week 2


Sept 22

On Democratic theory. Dahlís Who Governs? finish the book



Why are elections a counterweight to wealth and privilege?


How (contra Dahl) might wealth and privilege exert control over election processes?


What is a diverse media important for democracy?


Why is the level of citizen participation in voting important in a democracy? Were New Haven citizens sufficiently engaged in the process to support the idea that New Haven was a democracy?

Sept 24




Week 3


Sept 29

Caro Ch 11-16, 23



* What are the particular historical circumstances that led to passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965)?

* How does Caro describe the political and personal characteristics of Lyndon Johnson?

Oct 1




Week 4


Oct 6

* Shelby Co  v Holder (US Supreme Court decision)

* Newkirk in the Atlantic

* Blackshear and Guinier




* In what way is Shelby County a blow to the Voting Rights Act?

* What was the status of voting rights in the US before Shelby County, and what is the status now?

Oct 8




Week 5


Oct 13

* Allcott, Hunt, and Matthew Gentzkow.

* Vosoughi et al

* Arendt 1971



* Why are lies sometimes more appealing than truth?

* How do politicians get away with lying?

Oct 15




Week 6


Oct 20

A report and a paper by Uggen


Question: What is the state of felon disenfranchisement in the US today, and why does it matter?

Oct 22




Week 7


Oct 27

Netflix Movie Knock down the House. Also Lord et al and Baldassari and Gelman on political polarization


* How do we measure political polarization, and why is it increasing?

* What is the experience of being a candidate, according to Knock Down the House?

Oct 29




Week 8


Nov 3

Election Day

Nov 5




Week 9


Nov 10

* Richman et al

* Ansolabehere et al

* Levitt 2007 report, The Truth about Voter Fraud

* Levitt 2019 article

* Goel et al, One person One Vote



* What does the data say about the prevalence of election fraud in the US

* What do politicians say about the prevalence of election fraud, and why does this sometimes differ from the evidence?

Nov 12




Week 10


Nov 17


Nov 19