POLS 020B. Special Topic: Political Inequality in the U.S. (AP).

This course explores the durable pattern of political inequality in the United States, from the Colonial Era to the present moment. Using U.S. political history as a vessel to understand contemporary political inequality, we will trace legacies of ascriptive hierarchy, slavery, xenophobia, racism, Jim Crow, indentured servitude, neglect, segregation, malapportionment, and restricted franchise to gain insights into why this nation remains highly unequal in politics. These historical legacies are further compounded by contemporary problems, such as gerrymandering, voter ID laws, politician-led pressures to decrease political participation, bureaucratic capture by special interests, disparities between public opinion and policy outcomes, elections predicated on money, and representation that varies in quality based on group status and geographic location. By understanding the incentives and interests of political actors in power, we will better understand why institutions and laws reconstruct U.S. politics, oscillating between greater equality and continued inequality. In this course, we will use political science, sociology, history, economics, law, and philosophy texts to better understand the incidence of political inequality, how it violates core precepts of democracy, and the ramifications of an inequitable political system. We will also scrutinize how socioeconomic factors influence political power, how political institutions mediate power, and how politics feeds back to reify or alter socioeconomic dynamics. Special attention is devoted to understanding political inequality in relation to race, ethnicity, migration, class, gender, political parties, interest groups, social movements, and geography.
Social Sciences.
1 credit.
Catalog chapter: Political Science  
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/political-science

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