Political Science 642
Texas A&M University
Prof. Frank Baumgartner
Spring Term, 1997
Office: 315C Bolton Hall
Wednesdays, 9:00 to 11:50 AM
Bolton hall, room 105
Office hours: M,W, 3-4 and by appointment
This is a specialized seminar focusing on several topics related to agenda-setting in American national politics. We will read on the topics of political change, issue-definition, cognition, models of punctuated equilibrium, strategic manipulation, information cascades, the effects of cue-taking and mimicry, and the implications of multidimensionality in models of political decision-making.
Assignments will be as follows. First, class participation is an absolute must. Second, there will be a series of short papers: one paper every two weeks throughout the term. Third, a substantial term paper will be required. Each week, I will distribute a list of discussion points for the readings for the following week. I will take volunteers from half of the class each week to write a short paper on one of those topics. Each student, therefore, will write a paper approximately every two weeks throughout the term. Papers should address an important conceptual issue in the readings, based on the questions distributed in class. They should be no longer than five pages, double-spaced. These papers are due in my box at 9AM on Tuesdays. I will read them and have them back to you in class on Wednesday mornings. Papers may also form the basis for the beginnings of some class discussion. Since half the students will have written a paper each week, those students should be especially prepared to lead the discussions.
Third, each student will write a substantial term paper based on original research. You should think about potential paper topics early in the term, and discuss them with me individually. Papers may investigate any element of issue-definition, framing, agenda-setting, or public policy that interests you and is related to the readings. The papers may either explore an important conceptual problem in detail, or they may involve the development of an original empirical research project. Students may make use of some of the data being collected as part of the large NSF project being done here on campus. These datasets include information on congressional hearings, statutes, the budget, and media coverage. Students who want to explore longitudinal issues of agenda-setting should talk to me early in the term about how they might best do that. Purely conceptual term papers are also acceptable, but they must make an independent contribution to the literature. Purely descriptive literature reviews are not acceptable for this course. While you should review the relevant literature in your term paper, the focus this semester is on making an original contribution to the literature.
Examples of public policy topics students might want to explore include how the issue of affirmative action has been framed over the decades, and the implications of these public understandings on the nature of the public policy response. Similarly, students could explore any of a number of public policies over time. Alternatively, students may focus on building a model, or extending an existing conceptual model, of the implications of shifting attention to public policy problems, or to various dimensions of a given problem. Either empirical or conceptual approaches are acceptable.
We will have at least two special guests during the semester. John Kingdon, of the University of Michigan, will present his book and perspective on agenda-setting. Nehemia Geva, of this department, will present psychological work in the area of framing and cognition. In addition, we may have some guest appearances from some advanced graduate students in the department, who may discuss their dissertation projects occasionally during the term. Several interesting and relevant projects are being done here this year.
All in all, you should be exposed this semester to a range of reading and to a diverse set of methodological approaches. By the end of the term, you should have an idea not only of the range of issues related to agenda-setting and issue-definition in American politics, but also of the nature of political change and of models of political decision-making. Term papers should give an in-depth experience with hands-on model-building or empirical research. Class discussions will also focus on practical research questions as well as broad conceptual issues.
Grades will be calculated according to the following formula:
30% class participation
40 combined scores on short papers
30 term paper
The following books have been ordered at the MSC bookstore, and should be purchased. In addition, there will be readings from articles, to be made available in the Department office. We will discuss arrangements for reading these articles in the first week of class.
Books for purchase:
Baumgartner, Frank R., and Bryan D. Jones. 1993. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jones, Bryan D. 1994. Reconceiving Decision Making in Democratic Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kingdon, John W. 1995. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2d. ed. New York: HarperCollins.
Riker, William H. 1982. Liberalism against Populism. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.
Riker, William H. 1996. The Strategy of Rhetoric: Campaigning for the American Constitution. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Sniderman, Paul M., Richard A. Brody, and Philip Tetlock. 1991. Reasoning and Choice. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Weekly topics and reading assignments:
Week 1. Jan. 15. Introduction and overview of the course.
Week 2. Jan. 22. Classics of agenda-setting
1. Schattschneider, E. E. 1960. The Semi-Sovereign People. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Ch. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8.
2. Bachrach, Peter and Morton Baratz. 1962. The Two Faces of Power. American Political Science Review 56: 94752.
3. Downs, Anthony. 1972. Up and Down with Ecology: The Issue Attention Cycle. Public Interest 28: 3850.
4. Cobb, Roger W., Jeannie Keith-Ross, and Marc Howard Ross. 1976. Agenda Building as a Comparative Political Process. American Political Science Review 70: 12638.
5. Walker, Jack L., Jr. 1977. Setting the Agenda in the U.S. Senate: A Theory of Problem Selection. British Journal of Political Science 7: 42345.
6. Cobb, Roger W., and Charles D. Elder. 1983. Participation in American Politics: The Dynamics of Agenda-Building. 2d ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Ch. 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, Epilogue
Week 3. Jan. 29. More recent work on issue-definition and its consequences.
1. Riker, William H. 1986. The Art of Political Manipulation. New Haven: Yale University Press. Preface, Ch. 1, 2, 10.
2. Baumgartner, Frank R. 1989. Conflict and Rhetoric in French Policymaking. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Ch. 1, 7, 8, 10
3. Schneider, Anne, and Helen Ingram. 1993. Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy. American Political Science Review 87: 33447.
4. Rochefort, David A. and Roger C. Cobb, eds. 1994 The Politics of Problem Definition. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. Ch. 1, 4, 5.
Week 4. Feb. 5. The punctuated equilibrium model and its application to agenda-setting.
1. Baumgartner, Frank R., and Bryan D. Jones. 1993. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Week 5. Feb. 12. More readings on this approach.
1. Shepsle, Kenneth A. 1979. Institutional Arrangements and Equilibrium in Multidimensional Voting Models. American Journal of Political Science 23: 2760.
2. Simon, Herbert A. 1985. Human Nature in Politics: The Dialogue of Psychology with Political Science. American Political Science Review 79: 293304.
3. Jones, Bryan D., Frank R. Baumgartner, and Jeffery C. Talbert. 1993. The Destruction of Issue Monopolies in Congress. American Political Science Review 87: 65771.
4. Baumgartner, Frank R., Bryan D. Jones and Michael C. Rosenstiehl. 1996. Shepsle Meets Schattschneider: Conflict Expansion in Congress. Paper presented at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA.
5. Jones, Bryan D., Frank R. Baumgartner, and James L. True. 1997. Policy Punctuations: US Budget Authority, 194795. Mimeo.
Week 6. Feb. 19. John Kingdons theory (Guest speaker: Kingdon)
1. Cohen, Michael, James G. March, and Johan P. Olsen. 1972. A Garbage Can Theory of Organizational Choice. Administrative Science Quarterly 17: 125.
2. Kingdon, John W. 1995. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2d. ed. New York: HarperCollins.
Week 7. Feb. 26. Strategic manipulation and instability
1. Riker, William H. 1982. Liberalism against Populism. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.
Week 8. Mar. 5. Manipulation, argumentation, and heresthetics
1. Riker, William H. 1996. The Strategy of Rhetoric: Campaigning for the American Constitution. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Note: Spring Break, March 10-14
Week 9. Mar. 19. Dealing with multidimensional issues
1. Jones, Bryan D. 1994. Reconceiving Decision Making in Democratic Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Week 10. Mar. 26. The social nature of political change; threshold models
1. Crenson, Matthew A. 1987. The Private Stake in Public Goods: Overcoming the Illogic of Collective Action. Policy Sciences 20: 25976.
2. Granovetter, Mark. 1978. Threshold Models of Collective Behavior. American Journal of Sociology 83: 142043.
3. Chong, Dennis. 1991. Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ch. 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10.
4. Bikhchandani, Sushil, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch. 1992. A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change as Informational Cascades. Journal of Political Economy 100: 9921026.
Week 11. Apr. 2. Rational and cognitive approaches to human decision-making
1. Sniderman, Paul M., Richard A. Brody, and Philip Tetlock. 1991. Reasoning and Choice. New York: Cambridge University Press.
2. Wittman, D. 1991. Contrasting Economic and Psychological Analysis of Political Choice: An Economists Perspective on Why Cognitive Psychology Does Not Explain Democratic Politics. In Kristen R. Monroe, ed., The Economic Approach to Politics. New York: HarperCollins.
Week 12. Apr. 9. (Read ahead for next week; no class this week.)
Week 13. Apr. 16. Issues of Framing (Guest: Geva)
1. Kruglanski, Arie W., and Isaac Ajzen. 1983. Bias and Error in Human Judgment. European Journal of Social Psychology. 19: 44868.
2. Tversky, Amos., and Daniel Kahneman. 1986. Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions. Journal of Business 59: 25184.
3. Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky. 1984. Choices, Values, and Frames. American Psychologist 4: 34150.
4. Frisch, Deborah. 1993. Reasons for Framing Effects. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 54: 399429.
5. Quattrone, G., and Amos Tversky. 1988. Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Choice. American Political Science Review 83: 71936.
6. Geva, Nehemia, Allison Astorino-Courtois, and Alex Mintz. 1996. Marketing the Peace Process in the Middle East: The Effectiveness of Thematic and Evaluative Framing in Jordan and Israel. In Manas Chatterji, Jacques Fontanel, and Akira Hattori, eds. Arms Spending, Development, and Security. New Delhi: APH Publishing.
7. Maoz, Zeev. 1990. Framing the National Interest: The Manipulation of Foreign Policy Decisions in Group Settings. World Politics. 43: 77110.
8. George, Alexander L. 1972. The Case for Multiple Advocacy in Making Foreign Policy. American Political Science Review 66: 75185.
9. Farkas, Andrew. 1995. Multiple Advocacy and its Deleterious Effects on Policy Making. Paper presented at the annual meetings of the International Studies Association, Chicago, IL.
Week 14. Apr. 23. Open week, review topics of interest; work on term papers
Week 15. Apr. 30. Review and discussions. Term papers due