May. 5th, 2007

Well, one down, one to go plus a defense.

I was actually quite surprised at how exhausted I was when it was over. By around 3:00, getting me to write more was like pulling teeth. I pretty much lived on lattes and zone bars for 9 hours, which I suppose could have been worse. I cycled through 3 baristas and a whole lot of customers as well. Many of whom probably wondered what the hell I was up to. Nine hours actually went by really fast. And I think I fell into bed around like 9:30.

George was incredibly kind to me with the questions he chose. Considering the last one, on social movements, American Politics is kind of pushing it. The second one is more public policy and public law. The first one is really the only traditional American Politics question and . . . I didn't have to answer it! Because I only had to answer two. I almost sent him a thank you email, but figured that would be pushing it. So, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief at 9:01. However, it did make me feel slightly more pressure to do an amazing job. Which, I probably didn't do. But, it's over. 17 pages in about 8-8.5 hours. Not bad.

Here were my questions. You know, cause you were wondering: :)

1) Public knowledge, pluralism, and government responsiveness.
a) Does American democracy depend for its effective functioning on a public that is well in-formed and able to think coherently about political issues? What have scholars found about the level of awareness and understanding the American voter?
b) Given that level of awareness, can elections alone guarantee that government is responsive to the public and that government policies serve a broad public interest? Explain.
c) Beyond elections: What other institutions, organizations, and processes shape and constrain government policies? (Consider parties, the media, interest groups, private law litigation, and litigation challenging administrative processes.) To what extent can these more diffuse sources of influence lead to outcomes that are representative of the public as a whole and serve public interests?

2) Why do some issues enter the public policy arena while others do not? What explains the con-tent of policy areas and public policies? Does an inter-branch perspective that pays more atten-tion to the Courts and legal mobilization have potential to add to political scientists understand-ing of agenda setting and policy making processes?

3) Discuss some of the key theoretical and methodological trends and debates in the study of so-cial movements, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses. Traditionally, a good deal of social movement research has remained outside of theoretical and empirical developments in political science. What, if anything, would there be to gain from integrating social movement study with some of the more traditional facets of study in political science?

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January 2013

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