Sat.-Sun., 7/28-7/29/12 Deborah Baumgold
10-2:50 305 MCK
166 LA Office hrs: Th, 8/2, 2-5
Democracy in Theory and Practice
What is democracy? The concrete answer is that it’s a method for making political decisions, including choosing governments. The Greek word roughly translates as “power” (kratia) to the “people” (demos). This has turned out to take many different political forms in practice and to convey different ideas concerning the relationship between people and their government. During this weekend course, we will examine and compare a variety of forms of democracy and voting procedures including: pure democracy, representative democracy and divided government, majoritarian and proportional electoral systems. The course concludes with discussion of the impact of social media.
READ as much as you can of the required readings listed below in ADVANCE of the class.
Requirements: Students are required to attend all weekend classes, read the required readings, and write a 6-10 pp. paper during the following week. Paper topics are listed below, following the syllabus. The paper is due by Monday, 8/6, 5 P.M.
Course Outline and Reading Assignments
Reading assignments are posted on Blackboard.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Session I: Alternatives: Pure democracy/Ancient Athens
Required reading: Bernard Manin, Principles of Representative Government, chap. 1.
Session II: Alternatives: Representative Democracy & Divided Government
Required reading: James Madison, Federalist Papers, #10.
Session III: How voting systems affect outcomes
Required reading: William Riker, Liberalism against Populism, selections.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Session IV: Electoral systems
Required reading: Lijphart, “Electoral Systems: Majority and Plurality Methods Versus
Proportional Representation,” in Patterns of Democracy, pp. 143-70.
Session V: Electoral systems
Required reading: Lijphart, “Reforming the House: Three Moderately Radical
Proposals,” PS 31:1 (1998), pp. 10-13.
Session VI: Impact of social media
FINAL ESSAYS DUE AUGUST 6TH. Essays must e-mailed as a Word attachment to email@example.com.
Incompletes for the essay assignment will be granted only in exceptional emergency circumstances (such as death in the immediate family or serious illness; family visits, vacations, and work for other classes do not count). In all other cases, the grade will be based on work completed before the due date, which may result in a failing grade. The grade “I” for an Incomplete may be assigned only after the instructor and student have completed and signed a Contract for the Grade of Incomplete; the form is available on the Political Science website at http:polisci.uoregon.edu.
Paper Assignment & Topics
Due date: Monday, August 6, 2012, 5 P.M.
Assignment: Choose one of the following topics for a 6-10 page paper. Good papers will organize discussion of the theories around a central argument/thesis. This thesis should be stated in the first paragraph of the paper (which should not simply quote one of the questions below.) Then, develop your argument using and analyzing textual material. Textual material must be adequately and correctly footnoted. Academic dishonesty will result in failure of the course.
1. Analyze and assess the results of the class simulation of various voting methods.
Why do the various methods produce different outcomes? Are there patterns to the outcomes? (Examine each method to see whether it favors a particular sort of candidate. Consider patterns among the outcomes. For instance, do majoritarian methods produce systematically different outcomes from positional methods and, if so, why?)
Based on your analysis, assess the fairness of these electoral methods. Which
method or methods is the best (or better), and why?
Base your analysis on the data provided in the hand-outs on the three elections and the assigned reading in Riker, Liberalism against Populism.
2. Design and defend an ideal voting system, based on the reading materials assigned in this course. As part of your defense, explain why this system would be better than others. You are welcome (even encouraged) to combine different voting systems, using
different systems for different parts of government. Explain how the parts of
your system would work well together.
Relevant parameters include:
elections vs. lot;
plurality (winner-take-all) vs. proportional representation.