Soci 124: The Good Society (2016)

University of California, San Diego
Spring 2015-16
MWF 10:00–10:50, HSS 2152

Lane Kenworthy
Office hours: W 11:15–1:15, SSB 472

What institutions and policies are conducive to liberty, democracy, economic security, opportunity, a vibrant economy, community, health, happiness, and other desirable features of a modern society? To what extent are there tradeoffs? This course examines the history and performance of key policies and institutions in the United States and other affluent nations.

Most of the required readings are from the following four books, which can be purchased at the campus bookstore or online. A few additional readings are available via links in the schedule below. You’ll also need an iclicker, which you can purchase at the campus bookstore.

  • Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979
  • Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal, W.W. Norton, 2007
  • Charles Murray, Coming Apart, Crown Forum, 2012
  • Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Simon and Schuster, 2015


Readings are to be done before class.

March 28 (M)
Course introduction

March 30 (W)
Lane Kenworthy, The Good Society
“What Is a Good Society?” and “America Is Exceptional … and Ordinary”

April 1 (F)
Lane Kenworthy, The Good Society
“How Do We Know?”

April 4 (M)
Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose
“The Power of the Market,” pp. 9-37

April 6 (W)
Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose
“The Tyranny of Controls,” pp. 38-54 (skim pp. 54-69)

April 8 (F)
Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose
“Cradle to Grave,” pp. 91-127

April 11 (M)
Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose
“Created Equal,” pp. 128-149

April 13 (W)
Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose
“Who Protects the Consumer?,” pp. 190-227

April 15 (F): no class

April 18 (M)
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
“The Way We Were” and “The Great Compression,” pp. 1-14, 37-56

April 20 (W)
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
“The Politics of the Welfare State” and “Movement Conservatism,” pp. 57-78, 101-123

April 22 (F)
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
“The Great Divergence,” pp. 124-152

April 25 (M)
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
“The Politics of Inequality” and “Weapons of Mass Distraction,” pp. 153-197

April 27 (W)
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
“The New Politics of Equality” and “The Health Care Imperative,” pp. 198-243

April 29 (F)
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal
“Confronting Inequality” and “The Conscience of a Liberal,” pp. 244-274

May 2 (M)
Charles Murray, Coming Apart
“Prologue,” “Our Kind of People,” and “The Foundations of the New Upper Class,” pp. 1-68

May 4 (W)
Charles Murray, Coming Apart
“A New Kind of Segregation” and “The Bright Side of the New Upper Class,” pp. 69-99, 116-121

Essay 1 due: Friday, May 6, in class

May 6 (F)
Charles Murray, Coming Apart
“The Formation of a New Lower Class,” “The Founding Virtues,” “Belmont and Fishtown,” and “Marriage,” pp. 124-167

May 9 (M)
Charles Murray, Coming Apart
“Industriousness,” “Honesty,” “Religiosity,” “The Size of the New Lower Class,” and “One Nation, Divisible,” pp. 168-208, 226-231, 269-277

May 11 (W)
Charles Murray, Coming Apart
“Why It Matters,” “The Selective Collapse of American Community,” and “The Founding Virtues and the Stuff of Life,” pp. 234-268

May 13 (F): no class

May 16 (M)
Charles Murray, Coming Apart
“Alternative Futures,” pp. 278-306

May 18 (W)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids
“The American Dream: Myths and Realities,” pp. 1-45

May 20 (F)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids
“Families,” pp. 46-79

May 23 (M)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids
“Parenting,” pp. 80-134

May 25 (W)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids
“Schooling,” pp. 135-190

May 27 (F)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids
“Community,” pp. 191-226

May 30 (M): no class (Memorial Day)

Essay 2 due: Wednesday, June 1, in class

June 1 (W)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids
“What Is to Be Done?,” pp. 227-262

June 3 (F)
Lane Kenworthy, “America’s Social Democratic Future,” Foreign Affairs, 2014

Final exam: Monday, June 6, 8:00-11:00am


Course grades will be determined as follows. See below for details.

  • 40%: quizzes (24, only your 21 highest scores count)
  • 25%: essay 1
  • 25%: essay 2
  • 10%: final exam

Each of these will be graded on a scale of 0 to 100. So your numerical course grade is calculated as: (quizzes average grade x .40) + (essay 1 grade x .25) + (essay 2 grade x .25) + (final exam grade x .10).

Your letter grade for the course will be determined as follows:

  • 97 and above = A+
  • 93–96 = A
  • 90–92 = A–
  • 87–89 = B+
  • 83–86 = B
  • 80–82 = B–
  • 77–79 = C+
  • 73–76 = C
  • 70–72 = C–
  • 60–69 = D
  • below 60 = F

There will be no extra-credit projects or assignments.


Each day in class, beginning April 4, you will take a short quiz on the reading for that day. Each quiz will have five multiple choice or true/false questions. You will answer the questions using your iclicker. There will be 24 quizzes; only your highest 21 grades will count.

Quiz grading: If you answer at least four questions, you will get 50 points (even if you have no correct answers). You get ten additional points for each correct answer. So if you answer four or more questions, your grade is 60 with one correct answer, 70 with two correct answers, 80 with three, 90 with four, 100 with five.

You must register your iclicker with TritonEd. To do that, go to, log in, choose this course, and click on “Register iclicker” in the blue menu bar. If you get a new iclicker at any point during the quarter, register it immediately.

For technical support with iclicker registration and use, contact Educational Technology Services, APM 1313, email, tel 858.534.2267.

You can take a makeup if you have to miss a quiz for any of the following three reasons: (1) holidays or special events observed by organized religions (for students who show affiliation with that particular religion), (2) absences pre-approved by the UC San Diego Dean of Students (or Dean’s designee), (3) extended illness (this requires a doctor’s note). If you miss a quiz for one of these reasons, contact me no later than the day of the quiz to schedule a makeup. I will need written verification of the circumstances.

You cannot take a makeup if you miss a quiz for any other reason. This includes faulty iclicker registration, forgetting to bring your iclicker to class, stolen or lost iclicker, iclicker malfunction, dead iclicker battery, needing to arrive late to class or leave class early, oversleeping, minor illness, transportation problem, family or friend’s special occasion, family problems, family illness, needing to study for another course, etc.


You will write two short essays. For each, you will read an article or a book and write about how one of the authors we’re studying in the course — Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, Charles Murray, Robert Putnam — would likely respond to it. Would he agree with the goal(s)? Would he find the argument persuasive? Would he find the evidence persuasive? Why? Do you agree with either or both? Why?

Essay 1. Read one of the following articles. How would Milton Friedman or Paul Krugman respond to it?

Essay 2. Read one of the following books. How would Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, or Charles Murray respond to it? Choose a different author from your essay 1.

  • Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics, Simon and Schuster, 2010
  • Lane Kenworthy, Social Democratic America, Oxford University Press, 2014
  • Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
  • Robert B. Reich, Saving Capitalism, Knopf, 2015

Due dates are listed in the schedule above. An essay turned in late but within 72 hours of the deadline will be penalized 25 points (out of 100). An essay turned in more than 72 hours late, or not turned in at all, will receive a grade of zero.

Turn in a hard copy and upload your essay on TritonEd. Emailed essays won’t be accepted. To upload it on TritonEd, go to, log in, choose this course, and click on “Upload essays” in the blue menu bar. Your essay won’t be visible to other students; this is just to allow a check for length and plagiarism.

Grading for each essay will be based on the following:

  • Answer the question (see above).
  • Write clearly.
  • Use proper grammar and punctuation. (Use of first person — “I” or “me” — and of contractions is fine.) Adhere to the following length, formatting, and citation instructions. Length: Each essay should be 1,500 words (excluding footnotes), plus or minus no more than 100 words. Formatting: The essays must be typed single-space on 8½-by-11 paper with 1-inch margins on top and bottom and 2-inch margins on each side. Use 11-point or 12-point font size. Sources and citations: You don’t need to use any additional sources. Use footnotes (not a reference list or bibliography) to cite the book or article — e.g., Friedman and Friedman, p. 5. The footnotes aren’t included in the word count. If you do consult other sources, give credit to anyone from whom you borrow evidence or argument. I’m not picky about the formatting of the footnotes, but be sure to include the author(s), title, and year; don’t simply list an internet address.

If you need help with writing, consider seeking assistance from the UC San Diego Writing Center.

Don’t plagiarize. If you aren’t sure what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it, see the UC San Diego Library’s guide to preventing plagiarism.


The final exam will cover all of the course material. The date and time of the exam are listed above.


Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to UC San Diego policy on academic integrity.


Students who need special accommodation or services should contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), University Center 202, email, tel 858.534.4382. You must register and request that the OSD send me official notification of your accommodation needs as soon as possible. Please meet with me to discuss accommodations and how the course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.


Information here, other than the grade and attendance policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.