We will work together to analyze the processes surrounding the 2016 election. In doing so, we will develop a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of democracy and politics in the United States, and what sociology and other social sciences can tell us about political participation, parties, public opinion, candidates, campaigns, and political outcomes.

This is not a course focused on the specifics of this particular campaign, and we will not be reading much about the substantive issues of this election, such as the policy positions of the candidates or their parties, or even the candidates themselves. This course is about how to understand Presidential and other national elections in the US. We will bring the scholarly material we read into conversation with the events of the election and media coverage of those events; you will be expected to follow the election yourself and to bring interesting articles, videos, blog posts, etc. to the attention of the rest of the class.

The class is organized into three broad sections: first, we will think about states, democracy, and the context of the United States in general; next, we will focus on the electorate, citizenship, and voting; and finally we will look at how candidates and elected officials are connected to citizens and other subjects through political institutions and campaigns.

Each week has a provocative claim in its title which is the central (but not the only) argument we will be discussing. These are not statements of fact or even summaries of the arguments in the texts we will read; they are claims for you to evaluate and engage with in your reading responses and in class.