Explicate a Core Concept in the Study of American Politics

One of the most important elements of academic writing is the requirement to communicate using concepts. Concepts are, by definition, abstractions. This means that they cannot be observed directly. We cannot, for example, observe liberty or factions. Rather, they are ideas comprised of collections of attributes. We may observe behavior that provides evidence for the presence or absence of liberty. But that is not liberty per se. Because concepts are abstractions, they are inevitably open to debate and disagreement. And their meaning is likely to evolve. The concepts listed below each have this element. Thus, an essay explicating one of these concepts necessarily is comprised of more than a brief, formal, (dictionary) definition. My copy of Plato’s Republic, for example, runs to nearly 300 pages. Hannah Pitkin’s oft cited work, The Concept of Representation, is above 250 pages. And The Federalist Papers run about 500 pages. You get just three pages for this assignment.

Objective: Produce a formally presented, academically documented, 2-3 page essay.

Write a 2-3 page essay that explicates one (1) of the political concepts listed below. [Look up the word explicates if you are not certain of what it means. It is not the same as define, nor explain.] Your “personal” concept will be determined alphabetically once a class roster is established for the course and will be posted on Blackboard. (Now detailed immediately below.) You must do the concept adjacent to your name.

Your essay must be properly typed (double spaced with normal margins and typeface) andformally presented. Avoid an overly familiar tone. Write to an informed but general audience; this is neither a memo nor a personal communication. Take care to write with precision. Edit carefully.


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