Political Science 306: How Race Matters in American Politics
Department of Political Science
Fall Term 2008
Office: Willis 403 Email: email@example.com Phone: 222-4680
Office hours: Tuesday 3:30-4:00 p.m.; Wednesday 10 a.m.-12 noon
This seminar examines how race and ethnicity influence American politics at the national and local levels. The subject is timely in the Fall of 2008 as the Democratic Party has just nominated its first Black presidential candidate. Close to home, the Carleton College community will enter into a discussion this term of how well the campus climate fosters diversity. In class we will explore the following topics: theories of racial justice; how mass attitudes evolve and change on matters of race; the history of race-egalitarian politics in the U.S; the role of elites and the mass media in shaping attitudes about race in elections; the nature of racial identity movements and conditions under which they fracture in urban contexts; inter-racial conflict and prospects for coalitions in an era of immigration; and paths to civic incorporation and full participation of immigrants, including Latinos and Asians, especially in urban settings.
The class emphasizes discussion. Your active engagement will make the class successful. One of my main goals is to help you acquire and sharpen the manner of thinking and skills you need to effectively participate in academic seminars and analytical discussions of politics. You will learn and practice the art of social science research and writing.
Our class discussions will: 1) evaluate the persuasiveness of each author’s arguments, including logic and evidence; 2) compare the views presented by different authors assigned for the current class session, as well as previous class sessions; and 3) form critiques of the readings, and draw out questions and implications (extensions of ideas) from this material.
For each class session, you will find one or more discussion questions in the syllabus. Having these questions well in advance of class should help you think what will be a major theme in the upcoming class and prepare for discussions. Once or twice during the term, each of you will pair up with another student to prepare one additional discussion question and help facilitate a discussion on that question. I will distribute student-prepared questions to the class by email on the day before the class meets. Before distributing the questions, the students who prepared them will consult with me on how discussion of their question fits with the plan for the class session as a whole.
Regular class attendance and punctuality are required to receive a good grade in the class. If you are absent and want the absence to be excused, I will need written documentation of illness or personal emergency.
The main writing assignment is a research paper, 20 pages in length, double spaced. We will discuss guidelines describing what constitutes a compelling research paper in political science. Your methodology can be qualitative or quantitative. Throughout the term, you will submit four short papers, which will form sections (after substantial revision) of the final research paper. In other words, you will be working on the final paper in pieces, step-by-step, as you write the short papers:
Paper 1: One-paragraph preliminary description of research question. A one-page bibliography, which should include about 8-10 items, including book-length studies and scholarly journal articles. Up to half of these items may be readings from this syllabus.
Paper 2: Refined statement of research question (two to three paragraphs) and draft of literature review (additional 4-5 pages).
Paper 3: Statement of working hypothesis and alternative hypothesis; plan for testing working hypothesis and alternative hypothesis. 3 pages.
Revision of Paper 3: Refine your research plan after thinking about it more and exchanging ideas with instructor and fellow students.
Paper 4: Preliminary report on empirical research findings. 2-3 pages. (note that your final paper, the report and analysis of findings will be much longer, i.e. around 7-10 pages).
Final paper: Your paper will include several sections describing: the research question and its importance; a literature review; a statement of the research hypothesis and alternative hypothesis; the plan to evaluate the plausibility of your hypothesis; a description of findings and analysis; conclusion. 20 pages.
In preparing your final paper, I recommend that you follow guidelines in the Style Manual For Political Science, 2006 edition, published by the American Political Science Association. You may use another academic style manual but only if you consult with the instructor about your choice.
Grading and Due Dates
Due date Portion of final grade
Classroom participation -- 20%
Paper 1 Oct. 2 in class 5%
Paper 2 Oct. 8 in class 20%
Paper 3 Oct 18 in class 10%
Revised Paper 3 Oct 23 in class --
The revision may improve your grade on Paper 3.
Paper 4 Nov 6 in class 5%
Final paper Nov. 24 at noon 40%
Late papers will be penalized one-half letter grade per day. The first late day starts immediately after the date and time stated in the syllabus. No papers can be accepted after the finals period ends.
Students are expected to adhere to the College standards for academic honesty. See http://apps.carleton.edu/campus/doc/honesty/
Cathy J. Cohen, The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics, University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Angie-Marie Hancock, Politics of Disgust: The Public Identity of the Welfare Queen, New York University Press, 2004.
Jane Junn and Kerry L. Haynie, New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Rodney E. Hero, Racial Diversity and Social Capital: Equality and Community in America, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Katherine Cramer Walsh, Talking About Race: Community Dialogues and the Politics of Difference, University of Chicago Press, 2007.
All books listed above may be found in the Carleton College Bookstore. Other readings listed in the Schedule of Readings below are on e-reserves in Gould Library.
Schedule of Readings and Discussion Topics
Week 1. Introduction
September 16: Introduction to Course.
What problems do political scientists face in evaluating the impact of race in
modern-day elections? A class handout uses data from this website:
September 18: Racial Images in Mass Communication
Entman and Rojecki, The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America,
Univ. of Chicago Press, 2001; ch.2, 3, 8; (ch. 1 and 9 are optional reading).
Discussion question: Be prepared to explain the analytical framework summarized in
Table 2.1 on p. 18. Does this framework help you understand how the politics of race
has played out in the 2008 presidential elections?
Week 2. Normative theories of Racial Justice
September 23: Sources of Racial Inequality
Glenn Loury, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, Harvard Univ. Press, 2002; ch. 4.
Discussion question: Is race egalitarianism consistent with principles of liberal
democracy? Carefully construct arguments on both sides of a debate on this question.
Class exercise in research design: how to pose an interesting and researchable question;
what is the purpose and nature of a literature review?
September 25: Black Solidarity
Tommie Shelby, We Who Are Dark, Harvard Univ. Press, 2005; ch. 4, 6.
Discussion questions: What does Shelby mean by distinguishing “thick” and “thin”
conceptions of black identity? Is it a useful distinction? What is pragmatic black
Optional background reading (not required):
David A. Hollinger, Post-ethnic America, Basic Books, 1999; ch. 5.
William J. Wilson, The Bridge Over the Racial Divide, Russell Sage, 1999; ch 3-4
Week 3. Deliberative Democracy and Race
September 30: Deliberation on Race Issues
Farai Chideya, Color of our Future, Quill, 1999; pp. 1-34.
Katherine Cramer Walsh, Talking About Race; ch. 2, 3, 4,
and summary of ch. 5 (from last full paragraph on p. 95 through 99)
Discussion questions: Why does Walsh criticize individual-focused accounts of
behavior? Does a unity-centered culture constrain meaningful discussion of difference?
October 2: Deliberation (cont’d)
In Talking About Race, read summary of ch. 7 (last paragraph on p. 160 through 164),
summary of ch. 8 (last two paragraphs of p. 189 through 199); and all of ch. 9-10
Discussion question: How does Walsh’s account of difference politics differ from
Iris Marion Young’s?
Class Exercise: Talking about race at Carleton in view of the Campus
Paper 1 due in class
Week 4. Historical Perspectives
October 7: The Civil Rights Movement
Watch film before class, Freedom On My Mind.
Produced/directed by Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford, Clarity Educational
Productions. VHS E 185.615 on closed reserves.
Doug McAdam, Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency,
1930-1970, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1999; ch 7 is required; (ch. 6 & 8 are optional)
Discussion questions: To what extent were indigenous Black civil rights actors in the
South dependent on external support from the North during the civil rights movement?
What were salient features of the political opportunity structure? Do you think a
modern-day movement for racial justice in the American South would follow a very
October 9: Strategies for an Independent Black Politics
Cedric Johnson, From Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making
of African American Politics, Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2007; ch. 5, 6.
Discussion questions: Does Thompson’s account support a “pragmatic black
solidarity” as Shelby described in We Who Are Dark? What more does Thompson
offer in his analysis of black agenda-setting? Did the 1970s convention strategies and
idea of a black political party lead away “from the kinds of popular democratic politics
their architects advocated? (p. 215)
Class exercise in research design: how to formulate a testable hypothesis and
alternative hypothesis; what is content analysis?
Paper 2 due in class
Week 5. From Protest to Electoral Politics
October 14: Race in Urban Politics
J. Phillip Thompson, III, Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities, and the Call for a Deep Democracy, Oxford Univ. Press, 2006, 3: Acquiring, Building, and Sustaining Power; ch. 4:“ Race and Interracial Coalitions” and ch 8: Conclusion.
Kristi Anderson, “In Whose Interest?”, in Junn and Haynie, The New Race Politics in America; ch. 2.
Discussion questions: In Anderson’s analysis, how did the process of immigration
incorporation in the early 20th century differ from the process in the early 21st century?
When will black mayors encourage political participation of low-income blacks?
When will they help forge multiracial coalitions, according to Thompson?
Optional background reading (not required): Willliam J. Grimshaw, Bitter Fruit:
Black Politics and the Chicago Machine, 1931-1991, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992,
ch. 1,6,8& p. 206-209.
October 16: Presidential Candidates and Race
Ron Walters, “The Emergent Mobilization of the Black Community in the Jackson Campaign for President”, in Lucius J. Barker and Ronald W. Walters, eds. Jesse Jackson's 1984 Presidential Campaign: Challenge and Change in American Politics, Univ. of Illinois Press, 1989; ch. 2.
Gutierrez, A.: “The Jackson Campaign in the Hispanic Community: Problems and Prospects for a Black-Brown Coalition”, in Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Presidential Campaign; ch. 5.
Adolph L. Reed, The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics, Yale Univ. Press, 1986; ch. 4: “Mythology of the Church in Contemporary Afro-American Politics.”
Discussion questions: How might McAdam’s model help us understand the dynamics and impact of Jackson’s campaign for president?
Does McAdam overestimate its political centrality of the Black church? Is the political role of the church significantly changing over time?
Paper 3 due in class
Week 6. Race in Contemporary National Politics
October 21: Racial Images and Themes in Presidential Elections
Charlton D. McIllwain, “Perceptions of Leadership and the Challenge of Obama’s Blackness”, Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, September 2007, pp. 64-75.
Available on: http://www.raceproject.org/pdfs/JBSObama.pdf
Charlton D. McIllwain, Racial Identity and the Youth Vote: Observation From the 2004 Presidential Campaign”. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol 50, No. 9, 2007, pp. 1231-1258. Print copy available at Gould library; electronic copy on http://www.raceproject.org/pdfs/ABS.pdf
Charlton D. McIllwain, “Black Messages, White Messages: The Differential use of Racial Images by Black and White Candidates. Journal of Black Studies, Vol
Available on http://www.raceproject.org/pdfs/BlackMsgsWhiteMsgs.pdf
See 2008 election ad watch on http://www.raceproject.org/ (detailed list of ads to
Discussion question: How do racial images appear to differ between the Jackson
and Obama campaign? How would you design a study to investigate the effect of
the images on TV viewers?
October 23: Images of the Welfare Queen
Angie-Marie Hancock, Politics of Disgust; ch. 2, 3, 5.
Discussion questions: Does Entman and Hojecki’s framework (review table 2.1 from
their book) help explain the phenomena Hancock describes? Do other analytical
approaches or frameworks we’ve read help illuminate the “politics of disgust” (e.g.
Questions for class exercise: Look for coded racial images of Latinos, Asians, Arabs,
and Native Americans in contemporary politics. Do any of these images have
similarities to those Hancock describes in the “politics of disgust”? How can we
change popular perceptions fostered by coded racist messages?
Week 7. Fault Lines in the Black Community
October 28: AIDS Crisis and Politics
Cathy J. Cohen, Boundaries of Blackness; all of ch.2, excerpts from ch. 5 (only pp.169-
185) and 6 (only p 186 up to start of first pull paragraph on p. 204; all of ch. 8 and 10.
Discussion question: Does Tommie Shelby’s argument about Black solidarity make
sense in light of Cohen’s study?
October 30: Black Conservatism
Hanes Walton Jr., “Remaking African American Public Opinion: The Role and
Function of the African American Conservatives”, in Gayle T. Tate and Lewis A.
Randolph, eds. Dimensions of Black Conservatism in the United States, Palgrave, 2002;
Discussion question: does Cohen’s study bear on Walton’s argument?
Week 8. Beyond Black and White: Immigration and Race
November 4: The impact of immigration on Black-Latino unity
Manual Pastor, Jr. and Erico A. Marcelli, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow, African
Americans, Unauthorized Mexican Immigration, and Coalition Building,” in
Steven Schulman, ed., The Impact of Immigration on African Americans, Transaction
Publishers, 2005; pp. 107-132.
Paula D. McClain et al, “Black Elites and Latino Immigrant Relations in a Southern
City: Do Black Elites and the Black Masses Agree?” in Junn and Haynie,
New Race Politics in America, ch. 5.
Dennis Chong and Dukhong Kim, “Beyond Black and White: The Experiences and
Effects of Economic Status Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities”, in New Race Politics
in America, ch. 3.
Discussion question: Do the stands of black elites on immigration differ from the views
of ordinary blacks? What are the implications of agreement or disagreement? What
conditions give rise to conflict or cooperation between blacks and Latinos?
November 6: Mobilization and Participation
Janelle Wong et al, “Activity Amid Diversity: Asian American Political Participation”,
in Junn and Haynie, New Race Politics in America; ch. 6.
Rodolfo de la Garza et al, “Get Me To the Polls on Time: Coethnic Mobilization and
Latino Turnout”, New Race Politics in America; ch. 8.
Victorio M. DeFrancisco Soto, “Se Habla Espanol, Ethnic Campaign Strategies and
Latino Voting Behavior”, in New Race Politics in America; ch. 6.
Discussion questions: How does foreign-born status affect political participation
among Asian Americans? Is pan-ethnic consciousness of being “Asian American”
prevalent among people of Asian descent in America? What are the political
implications of your answer? Are the dynamics of turnout among Anglos and Latinos
Paper 4 due in class: Preliminary report on research findings, 2-3 pages.
Week 9: Political participation in Multi-ethnic Contexts
November 11: Community groups
Janelle S. Wong, Democracy’s Promise, Univ. of Michigan Press, 2006; ch. 2, 4.
Discussion questions: If community organizations have not displaced political
parties as agents of political mobilization in immigrant participation in politics, what
are the respective roles of community groups and parties? Are some kinds of
community organizations more effective in mobilizing than others?
November 13: Diversity and Social Capital
David Frum, “The Vanishing Republican Voter: Why Income Inequality is
Destroying the G.O.P. Base.” New York Times Magazine, Sept. 7, 2008; pp. 48-51.
Rodney Hero, Diversity and Social Capital, 2, 3; pp. 20-71 (51 p), 4
Group Exercise: The class will design a research study to investigate R. Hero’s
and J. Wong’s theories in Northfield. .
Week 10: Student Research Presentations
November 18 and 20
**Final papers are due on November 24 at 12 noon**
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