This course examines politics and policy in local governments in the United States. In the American politics subfield of political science as well as outside of scholarly social science, there is increasing recognition that what local governments do is important, and that US cities, school districts, counties, and special districts are worthy of study. This is an area of research with many promising directions, and the goal of this seminar is to familiarize students with the existing literature as well as encourage them to develop ideas about research they may want to do on local government. In pursuit of this goal, students will read some of the latest research on local politics and policy in the US, and they will also read some older literature so that the consideration of the relevant questions and issues is not disconnected from past approaches and insights. The course covers topics ranging from local government development, machines and reformers, economic development and growth, the role of business, race and representation, housing and segregation, local elections and accountability, local institutions and turnout, partisanship and ideology, public-sector unions, gender and representation, policing, education and school boards, and the relationship between local governments and states.
This course was originally scheduled as PS279 for the Fall 2023 semester.