Political Parties and Interest Groups (PLSC 321)
Professor: Robert Alexander
Office Hours: MTRF (9 - 10); W (3 - 4) and by appointment
Phone: 772-2093 (office) or 634-0784 (home)
Course Time: 10:00 – 10:50 MWRF (Hill 200)
Required Texts: Robert Alexander. 2006. The Classics
of Interest Group Behavior. Thomson
Allan Cigler and Burdette Loomis. 2007. Interest Group Politics.7th edition. Congressional Quarterly Press.
Morris Fiorina. 2006. Culture
War?: The Myth of a Polarized
An extensive number of readings will be assigned in addition to the books listed above. I will assign these readings as appropriate throughout the term. Students will be responsible for obtaining any articles I assign in class.
This is an intensive course examining two important
agents of political mobilization in the
examine the historical development of political parties, the functions of
contemporary political parties, how political parties shape American politics,
and the relative power of political parties in the
Course Attendance and Participation:
As members of a university community, it is expected that students will attend class, be on time, and contribute to class discourse. Excessive absences will adversely affect your grade. Failure to be engaged in class discourse will also have a negative impact on your grade. My experience illustrates that those who attend class and are engaged generally do well, and in turn learn a great deal! Fifty (50) points are allotted fro class participation.
will submit a 6 – 8 page paper analyzing an issue related to organized interest
or political parties in the
Class Presentation & Article Assignment:
Each student will present an article and distribute summaries of their article to the class. Those presenting will serve as facilitators of class discussion. I will assign each student an article to summarize and analyze. This assignment is worth 50 points.
There will be a midterm and a final in this class. Each exam will be 100 points and thus weighted equally. Because there are only two exams, it is imperative that students do their best on each. I will discuss the format of the exams prior to their distribution and will be available for questions prior to their distribution.
There may be several unannounced quizzes during the term. These quizzes will be over basic information covered in class or in the readings. They will be given to reward students that come to class regularly and who are prepared for discussion. All quizzes will be calculated as part of your grade for the term.
A) Written Paper 100 points
B) Article assignment 50 points
C) Participation 50 points
D) Examinations 100 points each – 200 points total
The grade scale is as follows:
A = 92 - 100
B = 83 – 91
C = 70 – 82
D = 60 – 69
F = 59 and below
Absolutely no make-up exams will be given unless students have been given permission in advance by me! This is taken very seriously!
Attached is a preliminary course schedule as to how we will proceed this term. All dates are subject to change with the advance notice of the instructor. I will give specific reading assignments in class. The schedule is provided for students to keep up with the readings and come to class prepared to discuss, analyze and ask questions about the material. As such, I expect students will read the assigned material before the class it is scheduled for. This is the only way we can have meaningful discourse related to the readings. Remember, this is a fluid process and we may alter the readings as necessary. I will ALWAYS keep you informed as to what is expected of you.
Midterm: Thursday, April 1st
Paper Due: Friday, May 7th
Final Exam: Tuesday, May18th 8:00 – 10:00
Note: We may move through some readings faster than others and we may devote greater attention to particular readings. You must do the readings in order for lectures to make sense. The material we are studying this term is not self-evident. Many of your readings are graduate-level readings! Each student will be assigned a reading and well be responsible for leading discussion concerning it in class. Remember, additional readings may be added to this list throughout the term. You will be responsible for all assigned readings.
Introducing Political Parties in American Politics; Parties as Organization; Parties in the Electorate; Parties and the Electoral Process; The Red-Blue Divide
Group Formation and Pluralism
Group Maintenance, Group Influence, Lobbying (Direct and Outside)