empirical political sociology

Hi, Scatterplotters. I’ve got an inquiry from a social movements fellow traveler who has been assigned to teach political sociology after a long hiatus. She is dismayed to find that political sociology in sociology seems to have become entirely theoretical. She says: “I have been through most of the texts advertised on Amazon and even looked through many of the syllabi at the ASA Teaching page. I’m really shocked. The texts seem to be primarily about theoretical hair splitting with  more theory, and more theory… Doesn’t anyone look at the political world around us? Scary tho it is. I have been almost tempted to use a Marxist text, but it is so very ideological that I probably can’t bring myself to use it. Please send advice. Above all, the name of a good text.”

So I can’t help with this. Can you? She wants to be able to talk about things like party polarization, welfare policy, voting patterns, public opinion, civic participation, etc. I know sociologists do empirical work on these topics, although a lot of the research is in political science rather than sociology. But pulling an undergrad course together from a review of published literature is pretty daunting? Does anybody know of a course in political sociology with a strong empirical bent that could be used as a starting point? Or a text? Either in sociology or political science? Keep in mind we are talking a course for undergraduates at a non-elite school, not your graduate seminar.

I just started to wonder whether there are enough relevant Contexts articles to be the backbone of a course. I’ll suggest that to her. In the meantime, if you have suggestions, post them here. If you have something you could email me, just drop a comment. I can get your email address off the comment as an administrator even though your email address will not appear in the comment itself.