How do patterns of American economic, political and social inequality shape our policy responses to working families, poverty, COVID 19, and immigration?
[added new assignment due Tue 12/01 by 4:00pm EST]
GENED 1092: AMERICAN SOCIETY AND PUBLIC POLICY
General Education category: Histories, Societies, Individuals
Instructors: Theda Skocpol (Government) and Mary Waters (Sociology)
Fall 2020, Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:30-2:45pm
All course meetings to be held online via Zoom link from course website.
ACCESS TO READINGS [updated 9/21]
COURSE OUTLINE AND READING LIST
UNIT I. SHIFTING INEQUALITIES IN AMERICAN SOCIETY
Lecture 1 (Wed. 9/02): 1) Introduction to the Course (Skocpol and Waters).
2) Demographic Changes in the United States (Waters).
Discussion Sections: Introductions first, then discuss neighborhood data on segregation and social mobility.
From Prof. Waters, 09/01: “I am making a change in the readings for the class. There are four articles assigned for this week. They all might be useful for your papers in the future, but for now the only article that you should read before section is the one by Craig, Rucker and Richeson. The other material will be covered this week and next in lecture and can be considered optional reading.”
- REQUIRED: Maureen A. Craig, Julian M. Rucker, and Jennifer Richeson. “Racial and Political Dynamics of an Approaching ‘Majority Minority’ United States.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 677 (May 2018): 204-214.
- OPTIONAL: Bruce Western and Becky Pettit. “Incarceration and Social Inequality.” Daedalus 139(3) (Summer 2010): 8-19.
- OPTIONAL: Douglas S. Massey. “Residential Segregation is the Linchpin of Racial Stratification.” City and Community 15(1) (March 2016): 4-7.
- OPTIONAL: Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff. “The Continuing Increase in Income Segregation, 2007-2012.” Center for Education Policy Analysis, Stanford University, March 2016. cepa.stanford.edu.
NO CLASS (Mon. 9/07): University Holiday: Labor Day.
Lecture 2 (Wed. 9/09): Income Inequality and Declining Social Mobility. Neighborhoods. (Waters)
Discussion Sections: Finding data on Social Explorer and understanding local social mobility.
- Raj Chetty et al. “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940.” Science 356 (April 28, 2017): 398–406.
- Raj Chetty et al. “Executive Summary: The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Imcome Mobility“ (opens pdf), December 2016. Posted, with full paper, at https://opportunityinsights.org/paper/the-fading-american-dream/.
- Raj Chetty et al. “Executive Summary: The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility“ (opens pdf), January 2020. Posted, with full paper, at https://opportunityinsights.org/paper/the-opportunity-atlas.
[Note: Full paper originally published as: Raj Chetty et al. “The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility.” NBER Working Paper No. 25147, issued in October 2018, revised in February 2020.]
- Richard V. Reeves. “The Dangerous Separation of the American Upper Middle Class.” Social Mobility Papers series, Brookings Institution, September 3, 2015. brookings.edu.
- Martin Feldstein. “Reducing Poverty, Not Inequality.” The Public Interest 137 (Fall 1999): 33-41.
Lecture 3 (Mon. 9/14): Gender and Family Changes in the United States (Waters)
Lecture 4 (Wed. 9/16): Debates about the Causes and Consequences of Rising U.S. Economic Inequality (Skocpol)
Discussion Sections: Why have economic inequalities increased, and does it matter?
- Jake Rosenfeld. What Unions No Longer Do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. Online access via HOLLIS [fixed link 9/15]. READ CHAPTERS 1-7.
9/15 update -- If you have trouble accessing online, here is a pdf of Chapters 1-7.
- Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer -- and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. Online access via HOLLIS record (limited). READ CHAPTERS 1 AND 2.
9/21 update -- If you have trouble accessing online, here is a pdf of Chapters 1-2.
DUE SUN. 9/20 by 5:00pm: Short Writing Assignment No. 1. Instructions [updated].
[Originally due Fri 9/18.]
UNIT II. CHANGES IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Lecture 5 (Mon. 9/21): From Membership to Management in American Civic Life (Skocpol)
Lecture 6 (Wed. 9/23): Voters, Movements, and Money in U.S. Elections (Skocpol)
Don't use these, missing dates on one slide:
Discussion Sections: How have U.S. civic life and electoral democracy recently changed?
Readings [UPDATED 9/21]:
- Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry E. Brady, and Sidney Verba. “The Big Tilt: Participatory Inequality in America.” The American Prospect 8(32) (May-June 1997).
- Kay Lehman Schlozman. “Did Working Women Kill the PTA?“ The American Prospect 11(20) (September 2000).
- Andrea L. Campbell. “SSN Key Findings: How Social Security Encourages Older Americans to be Active Citizens.” Scholars Strategy Network (SSN), January 2012. scholars.org.
- Zoltan Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, and Lindsay Nielson. “Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes.” Journal of Politics 79(2) (April 2017): 363-79.
- [REMOVED 9/21] Theodore R. Johnson and Max Feldman. “The New Voter Suppression.” Brennan Center for Social Justice, January 16, 2020. brennancenter.org.
- [ADDED 9/21] Ian Millhiser. “How the Supreme Court revived Jim Crow voter suppression tactics.” Transcript of interview with Professor Carol Anderson, Emory University. Vox, September 21, 2020. Recommended: original podcast of interview (one hour).
- Andrew Prokop. “40 Charts That Explain Money in Politics.” Vox, July 13, 2014. vox.com.
- Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Theda Skocpol, and Jason Sclar. “When Political Mega-Donors Join Forces: How the Koch Network and the Democracy Alliance Influence Organized U.S. Politics on the Right and Left.” Studies in American Political Development 32(2) (October 2018): 127-65.
Lecture 7 (Mon. 9/28): From the Tea Party to the Anti-Trump Resistance and the Black Lives Matter Protests (Skocpol)
Lecture 8 (Wed. 9/30): The Future of American Democracy (Guest Lecturer)
E. J. DIONNE. Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution. Visiting Professor in Religion and Political Culture, Harvard Divinity School.
Discussion Sections: Why is U.S. politics so polarized and can that change?
Readings [UPDATED 9/30]:
- Theda Skocpol and Caroline Tervo, eds. Upending American Politics: Polarizing Parties, Ideological Elites, and Citizen Activists from the Tea Party to the Anti-Trump Resistance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. Online access via HOLLIS record (unlimited). READ CHAPTERS 1, 4, 9 AND 13, AND SELECT ONE ADDITIONAL CHAPTER to read from among the state-focused chapters (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12).
- Arian Campo-Flores and Joshua Jamerson. “Black Lives Matter’s Years of Pressure Paved Way for Sudden Police Overhaul.” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020.
- Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. How Democracies Die. New York: Crown Publishing, 2018. Online access via HOLLIS record (limited). READ ENTIRE BOOK.
9/21 update: Online access to How Democracies Die via HOLLIS is limited to only 3 users at a time and no portion of the book is downloadable via HOLLIS. If you have not already obtained a print copy, links to purchase an e-book are on the publisher’s book page at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/562246/how-democracies-die-by-steven-levitsky-and-daniel-ziblatt/. (Vendors: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Google Play Store, Kobo.)
- ADDED 9/21 -- E. J. Dionne, Jr. Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2020. READ “Introduction: The Opportunity We Dare Not Miss” (pp. 1-18) and CHAPTER 10: “Why Change Can't Wait” (pp. 213-19).
- ADDED 9/21 -- E. J. Dionne, Jr. “A realist’s case against despair.” Opinions, Washington Post, September 13, 2020. [pdf]
- ADDED 9/21 (recommended) -- Working Group on Universal Voting. “Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.” Report issued July 20, 2020 from the Working Group on Universal Voting convened by The Brookings Institution and The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School (co-chaired by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Brookings, and Miles Rapoport, Ash Center).
- ADDED 9/21 (recommended) -- Prof. Dionne’s latest opinion pieces in the Washington Post are at https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/ej-dionne-jr/.
- ADDED 9/30 -- E.J. Dionne, Jr. "Trump’s scorched-earth nihilism will cost him the presidency." Opinions, Washington Post, September 30, 2020. [pdf]
DUE TUE. 10/06 by 11:59pm: Part 1 of Short Writing Assignment No. 2. Instructions. [updated 9/23]
UNIT III. U.S. SOCIAL POLICY: OPPORTUNITY, SECURITY, INEQUALITY
Lecture 9 (Mon. 10/05): The Development of U.S. Social Policies (Skocpol)
Lecture 10 (Wed. 10/07): Policy Responses to Poverty (Waters)
Discussion Sections: How and why is the U.S. welfare state distinctive?
- Christopher Howard. “SSN Basic Facts: Tax Expenditures: What They Are and Who Benefits.” Scholars Strategy Network (SSN), January 2012. scholars.org.
- Suzanne Mettler. The Government-Citizen Disconnect. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2018. Online access via HOLLIS record (unlimited). READ ENTIRE BOOK.
- Theda Skocpol. “Universal Appeal: Politically Viable Policies to Combat Poverty.” The Brookings Review 9(3) (Summer 1991): 28-33.
|DUE SUN. 10/11 by 11:59pm: Part 2 of Short Writing Assignment No. 2. Instructions. [updated 9/23]|
NO CLASS (Mon. 10/12): University Holiday: Indigenous Peoples’ Day (City of Cambridge); Columbus Day (Federal).
Lecture 11 (Wed. 10/14): Conflicts about Health Reform and Supports for Working Families (Skocpol)
Recommended: The following additional slides from Kaiser Family Foundation give a side-by-side matchup of presidential candidates' policy stances on 12 health care issues, ranging from Covid-19 Response to Prescription Drug Responses to Lowering Health Care Costs.
Discussion Sections: Can U.S. social policies meet the needs of today’s working families?
- Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Boston, MA and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. Online access via HOLLIS record. READ ENTIRE BOOK.
9/21 update: Online access to $2.00 a Day via HOLLIS is limited to only 3 users at a time and no portion of the book is downloadable via HOLLIS. If you have not already obtained a print copy, links to purchase an e-book are at the authors’ book website: http://www.twodollarsaday.com/. Vendors: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Kobo, Sony.
- Anne-Marie Slaughter. “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” The Atlantic, July-August 2012.
- Ruth Milkman and Eileen Appelbaum. “SSN Basic Facts: Paid Family Leave in California and New Jersey: The Benefits for Working Families and Employers.” Scholars Strategy Network (SSN), March 2012. scholars.org.
- Ruth Milkman and Eileen Appelbaum. “SSN Key Findings: Low-Wage Workers and Paid Family Leave: The California Experience.” Scholars Strategy Network (SSN), March 2012. scholars.org.
UNIT IV. THE UNITED STATES AND THE COVID PANDEMIC CRISIS
Lecture 13 (Wed. 10/21): The Covid-19 Pandemic in Perspective (Guest Lecturer)
ALLAN BRANDT. Professor of the History of Science and Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine at Harvard.
Discussion Sections: How is the current pandemic similar or different from previous pandemics?
- Charles E. Rosenberg. “What Is an Epidemic? AIDS in Historical Perspective.” Daedalus 118(2) (Spring 1989): 1-17.
- Nancy Tomes. “‘Destroyer and Teacher:’ Managing the Masses During the 1918–1919 Influenza Pandemic.” Public Health Reports 125 (Supplement 3) (April 2010): 48-62.
Ed Yong. “How the Pandemic Defeated America.” The Atlantic, September 2020.[ADDED 9/15]
|DUE NEW SATURDAY 10/31 (new due date) by 11:59pm: Short Writing Assignment No. 3. Instructions. [updated 10/30]|
Lecture 14 (Mon. 10/26): Making Sense of U.S. COVID Responses (Skocpol)
Lecture 15 (Wed. 10/28): The Pandemic and America’s Economic Future (Guest Lecturer) [new date, was originally on 11/02]
JASON FURMAN. Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.
Discussion Sections: Why has the United States (and particular parts of it) struggled to limit COVID cases and deaths?
Readings: [updated 10/13]
- George Packer. “Underlying Conditions: We Are Living in a Failed State.” The Atlantic, June 2020.
- Hanna Kreuger and Zoe Greenberg. “How an Intimate Wedding in Rural Maine Led to the State’s Largest COVID-19 Outbreak.” Boston Globe, August 29, 2020. [Added 9/02]
- Zoe Greenberg. “’I Want the People of God to Enjoy Liberty’: Pastor at Maine Super-Spreader Wedding Gives Defiant Indoor Sermon.” Boston Globe, August 31, 2020. [Follow-up article by Zoe Greenberg] [Added 9/02]
- Jose F. Figueroa, et al. “Community-Level Factors Associated With Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Rates in Massachusetts.” Health Affairs, preprint August 27, 2020. [Added 9/02]
- Lauren Bauer, et al. “Ten Facts about COVID-19 and the U.S. Economy” (pdf). Report by the Hamilton Project, www.hamiltonproject.org, a project of the Brookings Institution. September 17, 2020. [Added 10/13]
- Raj Chetty, et al. “Non-Technical Summary: How Did COVID-19 and Stabilization Policies Affect Spending and Employment? (opens pdf). Published by Opportunity Insights, www.opportunityinsights.org, based at Harvard University. September 2020. Posted, with full paper, at https://opportunityinsights.org/paper/tracker/. [Added 10/13]
- Editors, Politico Magazine. “Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How.” Description: “34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come.” Politico Magazine, March 19, 2020. [Added 10/13]
- Peter Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg. “How the 'hinge event' of Covid will change everything.” CNN Opinion, www.cnn.com, May 7, 2020. [Added 10/13]
- Ken Budd. “COVID-19 Won’t Change Us Forever.” The Atlantic, July 5, 2020. [Added 10/13]
*NO LECTURE (16)* on Mon. 11/02 [updated on 9/02]
Lecture 17 (Wed. 11/04): November 3 Aftermath – What Next? (Skocpol and Waters)
Discussion Sections: Discuss the election process and outcomes so far in students’ home states or perspectives from their countries abroad.
- Watch and read coverage of the 2020 election.
- Everyone should observe the election end-stages in their area to prepare for Wed. 11/04 class discussion and section discussions.
UNIT V. IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
Lecture 18 (Mon. 11/09): Regulating Immigration: Development of Policy and Laws (Waters)
Lecture 19 (Wed. 11/11): How Immigration Law Currently Works (or Does Not Work) (Waters). Classes held on Veterans Day holiday.
Discussion Sections: Can and should laws effectively limit immigration to the U.S.?
- Joseph Carens. “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.” The Review of Politics 49(2) (Spring 1987): 251-273.
- Douglas S. Massey, Jorge Durand, and Karen A. Pren. “Why Border Enforcement Backfired.” American Journal of Sociology 121(5) (March 2016): 1557-1600
- David FitzGerald and David Cook Martin. “The United States: Paragon of Liberal Democracy and Racism,“ Chapter 3 in Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas (pp. 82-140). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. Online access via HOLLIS record.
- American Immigration Council. Fact Sheet on “How the United States Immigration System Works.” August 12, 2016. americanimmigrationcouncil.org.
- American Immigration Council. Fact Sheet on “Asylum in the United States.” May 14, 2018. americanimmigrationcouncil.org.
Lecture 20 (Mon. 11/16): Undocumented Immigrants, Dreamers, Deportation (Waters)
Discussion Sections: How do legal status and race affect the integration of immigrants and their children?
- Roberto G. Gonzales. “Learning to be Illegal: Undocumented Youth and Shifting Legal Contexts in the Transition to Adulthood.” American Sociological Review 76(4) (August 2011): 602-19.
- Katherine Fennelly. “SSN Basic Facts: Why Immigration Worries Americans -- Especially Rural Residents.” Scholars Strategy Network (SSN), February 2012. scholars.org.
- Mary C. Waters and Philip Kasinitz. “Race and Legal Status and Immigrant Social Mobility.” Daedalus, forthcoming 2021. [added link 10/14]
- Peter Beinart. “It’s Not Illegal Immigration That Worries Republicans Anymore.” The Atlantic, February 18, 2018. [added 09/02]
|DUE MON. 11/23 by 11:59pm: Short Writing Assignment No. 4. Instructions.|
|MOVE OUT -- Sun. 11/22 by 5:00pm. Students living on campus must vacate campus by 5:00pm on Sunday, November 22.|
Lecture 22 (Mon. 11/23): Integration of Immigrants and Their Children (Waters)
NO CLASS (Wed. 11/25): Thanksgiving recess (Wed.-Sun., 11/25-29)
NO SECTIONS: Thanksgiving recess (Wed.-Sun., 11/25-29)
- Mary C. Waters and Marisa Gerstein Pineau, eds. The Integration of Immigrants into American Society. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2016. READ “Summary,” pp. 1-14.
- Nancy Foner and Richard Alba. “Immigration and the Legacies of the Past: The Impact of Slavery and the Holocaust on Contemporary Immigrants in the United States and Western Europe.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 52(4) (October 2010): 798-819.
Lecture 23 (Mon. 11/30): NEW (as of 11/30) -- Final Lecture on Immigration (Waters). [Originally: Future of American Public Policy (Skocpol and Waters)]
Added 12/03: Here is a link to the Frameworks Institute that Professor Waters mentioned in class on Monday. https://www.frameworksinstitute.org/. This is the institute that helps communicate research findings more effectively to a wider public.
NEW -- DUE TUE. 12/01 by 4:00pm EST:
Submit a topic you'd like discussed during Wed 12/02 final lecture class session. Instructions.
Lecture 24 (Wed. 12/02): NEW (as of 11/30): Course Wrap-Up (Future of American Public Policy) and Class Discussion. Moderated by TFs.
[Originally: Course Wrap-Up and Class Discussion (Skocpol and Waters)]
Discussion Sections: Course review and discuss immigration readings.
Readings: For section discussion, review immigration readings from previous week.
THE COURSE FINAL ASSIGNMENT IS DUE TO THE COURSE WEBSITE BY 11:59PM ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11.
By Saturday, December 5 (or as soon as possible after the last class meeting), the final assignment will be posted on the course website. Course staff will notify students as soon as it has been posted. The completed final assignment must be submitted to the course website by11:59pm on Friday, December 11. The final assignment will count for 20% of the final grade.
There is NO three-hour final examination for this course. All coursework will be completed by Friday, December 11.
Course Collaboration Policy. Grades for the two collaborative short writing assignments will be assigned to all students in the group. For the two individual short writing assignments, the quizzes, and the course final assignment, each person is expected to present his or her own work. Discussion is always encouraged, but when doing individual work on writing assignments or exams, students should not exchange written outlines or texts. Work presented by an individual student must always properly cite quotations and indicate sources of evidence for each claim. Although materials beyond the course may be used, students are expected to master the course readings and cite parts of them where relevant.
The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of the course schedule, and the basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes, or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.
To add some comments, click the "Edit" link at the top.