SOC 190 | Writing Across the Partisan Divide

2020 Fall

Kim Voss & Tyler Leeds

The sciences are losing their legitimacy. Social science, in particular, has come to elicit skepticism when it probes one of the spaces where its insights are most needed—politics.

Research on politics is often dismissed as lacking rigor or being simply inappropriate. Why are social scientists meddling in matters of democracy, critics ask. However, social science has the power to strengthen democracy by illuminating issues of inclusion, fairness, and accountability. But how are social scientists to proceed if they are viewed with suspicion?

Part of the answer is good, clear writing. Writing that is able to overcome skepticism with reason. This seminar will teach just that, and do so by focusing on moments of political contention, topics that foreground precisely where social science is most resented and, quite frequently, most useful.

To do this, we will highlight how scholars have approached heated political themes across the political divide, such as the birth of the Tea Party, police reform, and the abortion debate. Throughout, we will consider not only how social scientists write about data, both quantitative and qualitative, but how they frame their own position, background, and agenda.