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1 University of Southern California Professor: Paul Lichterman Sociology 250gm Office: KAP 352; lichterm@usc.edu Fall 2009 Hours: Weds. 3:30-5:00 and by appt. Lecture: Mon.-Weds. 2:00-3:20pm T.A.: C. Brady Potts Grassroots Participation in Global Perspective Course description How and why do ordinary people get involved in organizations that address local, national or global problems? What are different ways of participating? What are the benefits of drawbacks of each? This course introduces you to different forms of citizen participation. We will learn about volunteer and community service groups, social movement organizations, nonprofit organizations that work for the social good, and governmental bodies that invite citizen participation. We will treat some religious as well as secular organizations. We will focus primarily on the contemporary U.S., with comparison cases from other countries and periods that can help us contextualize current U.S. realities we would take too much for granted otherwise. Many public organizations, and many nations, want to increase citizen participation, in order to become more democratic, more fair, or more seemingly legitimate. There are heated debates inside and outside academia about citizen participation, what is good about it, why it has been declining, what can be done to increase it. This course introduces you to these important conversations and gives you tools for making your own decisions about the virtues and drawbacks of different kinds of participation. While introducing you to different forms of citizen participation and big debates about participation, the course also introduces you to ethnographic research. Los Angeles is a fabulously diverse city with many different kinds of citizen participation, and many, many problems that citizens try to address. Using Los Angeles as a case, everyone will need to attend at least two meetings or events of a grassroots civic group or organization--that is, any kind of activist group, volunteer group, or government-sponsored meeting that involves average citizens in discussion. You will learn some basic skills of social science research: listening closely to everyday conversation, taking detailed notes on what you observe, writing memos that apply or challenge social science concepts in light of your observations. In other words, you will see at an introductory level what professional ethnographers do in order to write books and scholarly articles. In short, this courses goals include: introducing you to enduring scholarly questions and themes regarding citizen participation introducing different kinds of participation, their potentials and limits giving you concrete, introductory research experience sharpening your ability to think and write critically and comparatively about citizen participation, beyond the usual clichs 2 Readings These books all are required for our course. All are available in paperback.... View Full Document

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