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POLS 209: Evil, Benevolent, or Benign?: The Role of Bureaucracy in a Democracy.

Term: Spring Fall

Credits: 4

Degree Requirements:

While there are many objectives for learning in this course, the primary objective of the course is to expose the class to provocative arguments about bureaucracy and challenge our established notions of what a bureaucracy is and how it performs. In order to achieve this objective, however, we will begin first by discussing what a bureaucracy is. We will then consider how public bureaucracy is or is not different from private bureaucracy. Next, we will explore several well-known theories of bureaucratic behavior and performance. The goal is to not only understand what these theories are, but also to critically evaluate these theories. Do they do a good job of explaining bureaucratic behavior? Finally, we will consider some more advanced and provocative arguments about bureaucracy including Goodsell’s “case for bureaucracy” and Adams & Balfour’s notion of “administrative evil”. The course is not designed to convince you whether public bureaucracies are “good” or “bad”, but to think carefully and analytically about why they exist and how they function. As such, you will be exposed to both positive and negative arguments about public bureaucracies. Not eligible if you have already completed POLS209 Bureaucratic Politics. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: United States Politics, or permission of the instructor