POSC 389 — Special Topics: Culture Wars
Section 52774
Spring 2005

Instructor: Michael Craw
Office: 219 Mather House
Office Hours: MW 9-10, 1:30-2:30 and by appointment
Mailbox: 110 Mather House
Office Phone: (216) 368-5265
Cell Phone: (812) 325-6042
Class Times: MWF 10:30 – 11:20
Room: 542 Sears


Course Description

The American public today appears to be deeply divided on a set of issues that in prior years were largely in the background: so-called “cultural” issues, such as gay and lesbian rights, abortion and sex education. These issues differ from traditional bread-and-butter socioeconomic issues in that they inject government policy into the distribution of values rather than resources. In this course, we will explore how and why these issues have come to dominate national and local political agendas in recent years and how policymaking on these issues differs from that on socioeconomic issues. We will also consider one cultural policy area in-depth: gay and lesbian rights. In this policy area, we will consider the organization of interest groups, public opinion, media coverage, and the roles of political institutions like Congress and the courts on policy outcomes. By the end of the course, students will have a deeper understanding not only of the in-depth policy areas, but of the American policymaking process in general.



The easiest way to get in touch with me is by e-mail ( In addition, I will from time to time use e-mail to communicate information about the class (e.g. cancellations or changes in the reading assignments and class discussion topics). In general, I will send such messages to your Case e-mail account, and so if you do not have a Case e-mail account or you do not check it regularly, please see me as soon as possible. You may reach me at my cell phone number above during reasonable hours (before 11 p.m.). Or you may see me during my office hours or by making an appointment to see me.


Course Requirements and Grading

I will evaluate student performance in this class according to the following components:

Participation: 10%
Mid-term Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 25%
Paper/Group Presentation: 40%

Participation: One of the primary objectives of this class is to develop your ability to critically analyze political and public policy issues. This is best done by actively engaging in discussion of policy issues with others who are well informed about an issue and who can bring different experiences to the discussion. Class participation, therefore, will be a factor in your final grade. Students are expected to come to class prepared for discussion by having studied the assigned reading in advance. From time to time we may carry out in-class exercises and I will use your participation in these exercises to help me assess this component of your grade.


Exams: There will be two exams in this class, a mid-term and a final, each worth 25% of your final grade. The mid-term exam will be on Wednesday, March 2, and will cover material on the syllabus through February 25.

The final exam will be on Thursday, April 28, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. This exam will be a comprehensive exam.

As a rule, I do not allow people to take make-up exams except under exceptional circumstances or in cases of medical or personal emergencies. If you must miss an exam, I require at least one week’s notice to schedule a make-up exam. Missing an exam without sufficient advance notice or a verifiable medical excuse (e.g. a doctor’s note) will result in a zero on the exam.


Paper and Presentation: Part of being a good political scientist is being able to evaluate public policy issues critically and to present your findings to other people. To this end, you will select a cultural or moral policy topic on which to focus for the semester during your first week in class. Over the course of the semester, you will complete a paper on a research question pertaining to your topic. You will develop your paper in three stages. First, you will write a 3-5 page research proposal, in which you discuss your research question, why it is significant, and possible sources of information. You are required to conduct interviews with at least two individuals on your policy issue as part of your project, and you should identify individuals you might talk to for your interviews in your proposal. You will have a chance to submit a draft of your proposal to a partner in class for comments prior to submitting it to me for approval. The final draft of your proposal is due to me by 5:00 on Friday, February 11. You will make an appointment with me the following week to discuss your proposal. The proposal counts as 12.5% of your overall paper grade, or 5% of your total grade in the class

In the second stage of your paper, you will complete a draft of your paper and conduct an oral presentation in class discussing your research question and your findings in late March or early April. For the oral presentation, you will teach the class about your policy issue and what you have learned about it. There will be two presentations per class session, and so you should plan on having a total of 25 minutes of presentation time. Leaving about 10 minutes for questions and discussion, therefore, you should plan your presentation for about 15 minutes. As a class, we will grade your oral presentation based on level of content, organization and presentation skill and clarity. I will consider the class assessment as well as my own assessment of the presentation in determining your grade on this component. The oral presentation will be 25% of your overall paper grade, or 10% of your total grade in the class.

A draft of your research paper will be due to me on Wednesday, April 6. I will not grade this draft, but I will read it, make comments and suggestions, and return it to you for revisions. Of course, if you would like me to read earlier drafts of your paper, you are free to see me during office hours.

The third stage is for you to complete the final draft of your paper. Your final paper is due to me by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 22. The final paper grade is 62.5% of your overall paper grade, or 25% of your final course grade.

I encourage you to work outside of class with other class members on your papers and presentations (though, of course, the paper you turn in must be your own work). To that end, you may wish to take down the names and contact information for a few classmates:

Academic Integrity

Cheating, plagiarism and other violations of academic integrity standards will not be tolerated. Any work turned in that is in violation of these standards will automatically receive a grade of zero and the matter will be referred to the Academic Integrity Board.

For your reference, the university defines academic misconduct in the following ways:

“All forms of academic dishonesty including cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation, and obstruction are violations of academic integrity standards. Cheating includes copying from another’s work, falsifying problem solutions or laboratory reports, or using unauthorized sources, notes or computer programs. Plagiarism includes the presentation, without proper attribution, of another’s words or ideas from printed or electronic sources. It is also plagiarism to submit, without the instructor’s consent, an assignment in one class previously submitted in another. Misrepresentation includes forgery of official academic documents, the presentation of altered or falsified documents or testimony to a university office or official, taking an exam for another student, or lying about personal circumstances to postpone tests or assignments. Obstruction occurs when a student engages in unreasonable conduct that interferes with another’s ability to conduct scholarly activity. Destroying a student’s computer file, stealing a student’s notebook, and stealing a book on reserve in the library are examples of obstruction. (Case Academic Integrity Board)”



Three textbooks are required for this class:

1) White, John Kenneth. 2003. The Values Divide. New York: Chatham House.

This book makes the case that it is values (as opposed to other considerations such as economy) that are most important in understanding the course of American political outcomes since the 1960s.

2) Fiorina, Morris P. 2005. Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. New York: Pearson.

This book runs counter to some of the claims made in White. Fiorina argues that the polarization of Americans, particularly on culture war issues, is largely over-hyped. We will compare and contrast White and Fiorina, attempting to reconcile them.

3) Button, James W., Barbara A. Rienzo and Kenneth D. Wald. 1997. Private Lives, Public Conflicts: Battles over Gay Rights in American Communities. Washington: CQ Press.

This text delineates the policymaking environment in which gay rights issues play out in American politics. We will use it to explore how culture war issues are handled in the American policymaking process.

In addition, I will place other reading assignments on reserve with the Kelvin Smith Library or I will distribute them in class.


Course Outline

This outline is tentative, and both topics and reading assignments may be adjusted through the semester depending on student interest and speed of progress. I will announce changes in class.


Monday, January 10 — Course introduction

Wednesday, January 12 — Voter behavior and the values divide
Reading: White, Introduction

Friday, January 14 — No class


Monday, January 17 — No class (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

Wednesday, January 19 — The “inverted election”
Reading: White, Chapter 1

Friday, January 21 — Campaigns and values (with Renee Lipson)
Reading: TBA
Come with a paper topic to discuss


Monday, January 24 — Mass opinion: is there a values divide in the electorate?
Reading: White, Chapter 2

Wednesday, January 26 — Mass opinion: what is the values divide in the electorate?
Reading: Fiorina, Chapters 1-2

Friday, January 28 — Discussion topic ______________________
Reading: TBA


Monday, January 31 — Partisanship and the values divide
Reading: Fiorina, Chapter 3

Wednesday, February 2 — Mass opinion on abortion
Reading: Fiorina, Chapter 4

Friday, February 4 — Drafting a research proposal


Monday, February 7 — Mass opinion on gay rights
Reading: Fiorina, Chapter 5

Wednesday, February 9 — The Republican Party and values
Reading: White, Chapter 3

Friday, February 11 — The Democratic Party and Values
Reading: White, Chapter 4
Proposals due today at 5:00 p.m.


Monday, February 14 — Presidential campaigns
Reading: White, Chapter 5

Wednesday, February 16 — “Four Party Politics”
Reading: White, Chapter 6

Friday, February 18 — Discussion topic 2 ___________________
Reading: TBA


Monday, February 21 — Party cleavages
Reading: Fiorina, Chapters 6-7

Wednesday, February 23 — Issue evolution
Reading: Adams 1997 “Abortion: Evidence of an Issue Evolution”

Friday, February 25 — Reform
Reading: Fiorina, Chapter 8


Monday, February 28 — Values and September 11
Reading: White, Chapter 7

Wednesday, March 2 — Mid-term Exam

Friday, March 4 — Discussion topic 3 _______________________


March 5 – March 13 — Spring Break


Monday, March 14 — Characteristics of morality policy
Reading: Tatalovich and Daynes, 1988, Foreword and Introduction

Wednesday, March 16 — Characteristics of morality policy
Reading: TBA

Friday, March 18 — Overview of GLBT Issues
Reading: Ellis (in Tatalovich and Daynes 1988), Chapter 4 (Gay rights)


Monday, March 21 — Origins of the GLBT social movement
Reading: TBA

Wednesday, March 23 — Interest group mobilization
Reading: Walker (1991), Chapter 2

Friday, March 25 — Interest group ecology and movement conflict
Reading: Clendenin and Nagourney (1999), Chapter 16; Walker (1991), Chapter 4


Monday, March 28 — Presentations _______________________

Wednesday, March 30 — Presentations ____________________

Friday, April 1 — Presentations __________________________


Monday, April 4 — Discussion topic 4 ______________________
Reading: TBA

Wednesday, April 6 — Structure of the GLBT movement
Reading: BRW, Chapter 2
Draft research paper due today at 5:00 p.m. today

Friday, April 8 — No class


Monday, April 11 — Organization of opposition to gay rights
Reading: BRW, Chapter 6

Wednesday, April 13 — Anti-discrimination laws
Reading: BRW, Chapter 3

Friday, April 15 — Policy implementation
Reading: BRW, Chapter 4


Monday, April 18 — Schools and GLBT youth
Reading: BRW, Chapter 5

Wednesday, April 20 — Gay marriage
Reading: Pinello, Chapter 1

Friday, April 22 — Gay marriage
Reading: Pinello, Chapter 2
Final paper due today at 5:00 p.m.


Monday, April 25 — Course wrap-up
Reading: TBA

Thursday, April 28 — Final exam, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.