Political Science 540, American National Institutions, Spring 2000

Prof. Frank Baumgartner


Questions and discussion topics for week 2, January 19:


Readings: Truman, Dahl, Walker-Dahl-Walker, Bachrach and Baratz


Choose one of these topics for a five page paper if you choose to do one this week. In any case, come to class prepared to discuss the following:


1.      Compare Truman and Dahl in terms of the nature of the empirical evidence presented. Is there a research design? How does each go about gathering the evidence that he uses to support his argument? Which is the more “modern” author? What are the strengths of the two works? Why are these books still read today?

2.      For David Truman, what is the difference between what he calls a “potential group” and what he calls a “manifest group?” Does Truman consider mobilization of potential groups to be problematic, or automatic? What is the importance of this? What is the disturbance theory, and what are its implications for the nature of democracy?

3.      Review the debate between Walker and Dahl. What are the essential elements of disagreement, and what does this say about the study of interest groups?

4.      What is “pluralism” and why did people object to being called pluralists? Review the essential components of a pluralist theory. Contrast this to the “elitist” view. Is pluralism elitist? Why is there this confusion? Is pluralism the same as mass democracy?

5.      What is the second face of power and why is agenda-setting related to interest-group power?


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