In this course we will conceptualize "public policy analysis" broadly. The course will focus almost exclusively on the United States, particularly the so-called "hidden" welfare state. Our concerns this semester will be with issues such as social security and social welfare entitlement, civil rights, health care issues, policy and social values, issues of education, urban affairs, national security with an emphasis on homeland security, war-making, and counter-terrorism as public policy and, finally, domestic political reform. A word about what this course is not: this is not a public policy course that highlights in which obscure congressional subcommittee a particular policy fails or succeeds. We are not interested in the micro-management and the micro-foundational minutia of policy implementation. In short, this is not a course about "filling pot-holes." This is a course that reflects on broad questions encompassing philosophical, theoretical, and primary factors concerning public policy in the United States and why only certain types of policy initiatives seem to be successful in this type of political system.
We will first investigate the theoretical issues that inform the intellectual debates surrounding state/society relations, especially the development of the modern welfare state. Then we will turn our attention to the problematic relationship between liberal democracy, market capitalism, and the legal arrangements that facilitate both liberalism and capitalism in the United States. We will also consider in some detail the institutional arrangements inside the Congress which can facilitate or block public policy initiatives. Finally, we will spend the last half of the semester examining cases of public policy successes and failures with specific reference to the theoretical issues covered in the first half of the semester.