Soc 226: Political Sociology

University of California, San Diego
Spring 2016-17
M 11:00–1:50, SSB 101

Lane Kenworthy
Office hours: W 11–1, SSB 472
Tel: 858.860.6124

Political sociologists examine the causes and effects of politics and government policies. This course will focus on public social programs (the “welfare state”). What do they do? How well do they work? How are they changing?


April 3
Social programs and welfare state regimes

  • Kenworthy, Lane. 2017 (forthcoming). “Social Programs in the United States and Western Europe: An Introduction.” In Choices and Change in European and American Welfare State Reform, edited by Joseph Cordes and Christian Toft. Oxford University Press. LINK
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton University Press. Pp. 9-78. LINK
  • Optional: Goodin, Robert E., Bruce Headey, Ruud Muffels, and Henk-Jan Dirven. 1999. The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge University Press.
  • Optional: Howard, Christopher. 2007. The Welfare State Nobody Knows. Princeton University Press.
  • Optional: Garfinkel, Irwin, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding. 2010. Wealth and Welfare States. Oxford University Press.
  • Optional: Francis G. Castles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger, and Christopher Pierson, eds. 2010. Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State. Oxford University Press.
  • Optional: Micklethwait, John and Adrian Woolridge. 2014. “The State of the State.” Foreign Affairs.
  • Optional: Monica Prasad. 2016. “American Exceptionalism and the Welfare State: The Revisionist Literature.” Annual Review of Political Science.

April 10
Security and freedom

  • Partanen, Anu. 2016. The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life. HarperCollins. Chapters 1-3, 5, 9. LINK
  • Optional: Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman. 1979. Free to Choose. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  • Optional: Graetz, Michael J. and Jerry L. Mashaw. 1999. True Security: Rethinking American Social Insurance. Yale University Press.
  • Optional: Kielos, Katrine. 2009. “Flight of the Swedish Bumblebee.” Renewal.
  • Optional: Tanzi, Vito. 2011. Governments versus Markets. Cambridge University Press.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Stable Income and Expenses.” The Good Society.

April 17
A decent and rising income floor

  • Jencks, Christopher. 1992. “The Safety Net.” Chapter 2 in Rethinking Social Policy. Harper. LINK
  • Jencks, Christopher. 2005. “What Happened to Welfare?” New York Review of Books. December 15. LINK
  • Jencks, Christopher. 2015. “Did We Lose the War on Poverty? Part 1.” New York Review of Books. April 2. LINK
  • Jencks, Christopher. 2015. “Did We Lose the War on Poverty? Part 2.” New York Review of Books. April 23. LINK
  • Jencks, Christopher. 2016. “Why the Very Poor Have Become Poorer.” New York Review of Books. June 9. LINK
  • Optional: Murray, Charles. 1984. Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980. Basic Books.
  • Optional: Edin, Kathryn and Laura Lein. 1997. Making Ends Meet. Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Optional: Bailey, Martha J. and Sheldon Danziger, eds. 2013. Legacies of the War on Poverty. Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Optional: Meyer, Bruce D. and James X. Sullivan. 2013.”Winning the War: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession.” Working Paper 18718. National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Optional: Cantillon, Bea and Frank Vandenbroucke, eds. 2013. Reconciling Work and Poverty Reduction. Oxford University Press.
  • Optional: Dollar, David, Tatjana Kleineberg, and Aart Kraay. 2015. “Growth, Inequality, and Social Welfare: Cross-Country Evidence.” Economic Policy.
  • Optional: Edin, Kathryn and H. Luke Shaefer. 2015. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Optional: Jacques, Olivier and Alain Noel. 2016. “The Case for Welfare State Universalism, or the Lasting Relevance of the Paradox of Redistribution.” Journal of European Social Policy.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “A Decent and Rising Income Floor.” The Good Society.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Public Insurance and the Least Well-Off.” The Good Society.

April 24
Equality of opportunity

  • Kenworthy, Lane. “Equality of Opportunity.” The Good Society. LINK
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 2009. “Investing in Children and Equalizing Life Chances.” In The Incomplete Revolution. Polity. Pp. 111-144. LINK
  • Magnuson, Katherine and Greg J. Duncan. 2016. “Can Early Childhood Interventions Decrease Inequality of Economic Opportunity?” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences. LINK
  • Optional: Bartik, Timothy. 2011. Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development. W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Optional: Ermisch, John, Markus Jantti, and Timothy Smeeding, eds. 2012. From Parents to Children. Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Optional: Putnam, Robert D. 2015. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Simon and Schuster.
  • Optional: Landersø, Rasmus and James J. Heckman. 2016. “The Scandinavian Fantasy: The Sources of Intergenerational Mobility in Denmark and the U.S.” Discussion Paper 10000. Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Optional: Davis, Jonathan and Bhashkar Mazumder. 2017. “The Decline in Intergenerational Mobility After 1980.” Working Paper 2017-05. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Early Education.” The Good Society.

Empirical analysis proposal #1 due May 1

May 1

  • Helliwell, John, Haifang Huang, and Shun Wang. 2017. “Social Foundations of World Happiness.” World Happiness Report 2017. LINK
  • Anderson, Christopher J. and Jason D. Hecht. 2015. “Happiness and the Welfare State: Decommodification and the Political Economy of Subjective Well-Being.” In The Politics of Advanced Capitalism, edited by Pablo Beramendi et al. Cambridge University Press. LINK
  • Optional: Murray, Charles. 2009. “The Happiness of the People.” American Enterprise Institute.
  • Optional: Radcliff, Benjamin. 2013. The Political Economy of Human Happiness. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 110-141.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Happiness.” The Good Society.

May 8
Employment (and economic growth)

  • Huo, Jingjing, Moira Nelson, and John Stephens. 2008. “Decommodification and Activation in Social Democratic Policy: Resolving the Paradox.” Journal of European Social Policy. LINK
  • Kenworthy, Lane. “Employment.” The Good Society. LINK COMING SOON
  • Optional: Esping-Andersen, Gøsta, et al. 2002. Why We Need a New Welfare State. Chapters 1-3.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. 2008. Jobs with Equality. Oxford University Press. Chapters.
  • Optional: Blau, Francine D. and Lawrence M. Kahn. 2013. “Female Labor Supply: Why Is the United States Falling Behind?” American Economic Review.
  • Optional: Lindert, Peter. 2016. “Are Government Social Programs Bad for Economic Growth?” In How Big Should Our Government Be? University of California Press. Pp. 34-66.
  • Optional: Bakija, Jon. 2016. “Would a Bigger Government Hurt the Economy?” In How Big Should Our Government Be? University of California Press. Pp. 67-108.
  • Optional: Hemerijck, Anton, ed. 2017. The Uses of Social Investment. Oxford University Press.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Is Big Government Bad for the Economy?” The Good Society.

May 15
Government effectiveness

  • Teles, Steven M. 2013. “Kludgeocracy in America.” National Affairs. LINK
  • Schuck, Peter H. 2014. Why Government Fails So Often. Princeton University Press. Chapters 2, 11. LINK
  • Steinmo, Sven. 2013. “Governing as an Engineering Problem: The Political Economy of Swedish Success.” In Politics in the Age of Austerity, edited by Armin Schäfer and Wolfgang Streeck. Polity Press. LINK
  • Optional: Bo Rothstein, Bo. 2011. The Quality of Government. University of Chicago Press.
  • Optional: Sunstein, Cass R. 2013. Simpler: The Future of Government. Simon and Schuster.
  • Optional: Micklethwait, John and Adrian Woolridge. 2014. The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State. Penguin. Chapters 7-8.
  • Optional: Cohen, Stephen S. and J. Bradford DeLong. 2016. Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy. Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Optional: Hacker, Jacob S. and Paul Pierson. 2016. American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper. Simon and Schuster.
  • Optional: Haskins, Ron and Greg Margolis. 2016. Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy. Brookings Institution Press.
  • Optional: Lindsey, Brink and Steven M. Teles. 2017. The Captured Economy. Oxford University Press.

Empirical analysis proposal #2 due May 22

May 22
Why isn’t America’s welfare state bigger?

  • Bartels, Larry. 2016. Unequal Democracy. 2nd edition. Russell Sage Foundation and Princeton University Press. Chapters 3, 5. LINK
  • Gilens, Martin and Benjamin I. Page. 2014. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspectives on Politics. LINK
  • Amenta, Edwin, Neil Caren, and Sheera Joy Olasky. 2005. “Age for Leisure? Political Mediation and the Impact of the Pension Movement on U.S. Old Age Policy.” American Sociological Review 70: 516-539. LINK
  • Andrews, Kenneth T. and Bob Edwards. 2004. “Advocacy Organizations in the U.S. Political Process.” Annual Review of Sociology 30: 479–506. LINK
  • Quadagno, Jill. 1992. “Social Movements and State Transformation: Labor Unions and Racial Conflict in the War on Poverty.” American Sociological Review 57: 616-34. LINK
  • Optional: Gilens, Martin. 1999. Why Americans Hate Welfare. University of Chicago Press.
  • Optional: Hicks, Alexander. 1999. Social Democracy and Welfare Capitalism. Cornell University Press.
  • Optional: Huber, Evelyne and John D. Stephens. 2001. Development and Crisis of the Welfare State. University of Chicago Press.
  • Optional: Alesina, Alberto and Edward L. Glaeser. 2004. Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe. Oxford University Press.
  • Optional: Martin, Isaac William. 2008. The Permanent Tax Revolt: How the Property Tax Transformed American Politics. Stanford University Press.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane and Leslie McCall. 2008. “Inequality, Public Opinion, and Redistribution.” Socio-Economic Review.
  • Optional: Hacker, Jacob S. and Paul Pierson. 2010. Winner-Take-All Politics. Simon and Schuster. Introduction and chapters 3-10.
  • Optional: Gilens, Martin. 2012. Affluence and Influence. Princeton University Press.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “How Much Public Insurance Do Americans Want?” The Good Society.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Democracy.” The Good Society.
  • Optional: Kenworthy, Lane. “Taxes.” The Good Society.

May 29
No class: Memorial Day

June 5
The welfare state in Latin America

  • Huber, Evelyne and John D. Stephens. 2012. Democracy and the Left: Social Policy and Inequality in Latin America. University of Chicago Press. LINK

Empirical analysis proposal #3 due June 12

June 12
Social policy in the developing world and basic income

  • Rebecca Surrender and Robert Walker, eds. 2013. Social Policy in a Developing World. Edward Elgar. Chapters 2, 4. Optional: chapters 1, 3, 5. LINK
  • Van Parijs, Philippe. 2001. “A Basic Income for All.” In What’s Wrong with a Free Lunch?, edited by Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers. Beacon Press. Pp. 3-26. LINK
  • Murray, Charles. 2016. “A Guaranteed Income for Every American.” Wall Street Journal. LINK
  • Bergmann, Barbara R. 2006. “A Swedish-Style Welfare State or Basic Income: Which Should Have Priority?” In Redesigning Redistribution, edited by Erik Olin Wright. Verso. LINK
  • Optional: Galston, William A. 2001. “What About Reciprocity?” In What’s Wrong with a Free Lunch?, edited by Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers. Beacon Press.
  • Optional: Murray, Charles. 2006. In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State. AEI Press.
  • Optional: Widerquist, Karl. 2013. “Is Universal Basic Income Still Worth Talking About?” In The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century, edited by Robert Rycroft. Praeger.
  • Optional: Stern, Andy. 2016. Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream. PublicAffairs.
  • Optional: Van Parijs, Philippe and Yannick Vanderborght. 2017. Basic Income. Harvard University Press.


Readings. All of the required readings are available using the links above. Most require a password, which I’ll provide.

Class participation. This is a seminar, not a lecture course. I expect you to participate actively during class each week. There are lots of ways to do this: ask questions, comment, critique, explain, think out loud.

Presentation. Each student will make one in-class presentation during the semester, on the readings for a given week. Use the standard conference presentation as your model: about 20 minutes, with slides. Don’t merely summarize the readings. Tell us how they could have done better.

Empirical analysis proposals. You will write three proposals describing empirical strategies to answer research questions drawn from the readings. For each, identify the research question, evidence, and conclusion(s) in one or more of the readings for a week and suggest an empirical analysis that might shed light on the question. (You may propose more than one analysis if you wish, but don’t spread yourself too thin.) Explain how your proposal would help to answer the question. Be specific and detailed about data and methods. Avoid lengthy introductions and meandering summaries of the readings. The proposals should be 2,000 words (plus or minus 100), typed single-space with 2-inch side margins. The due dates are listed above.

You can, if you prefer, write a traditional research paper instead of the three empirical analysis proposals. See me for details.

Grading. Class participation 30%, presentation 30%, empirical analysis proposals 40%.