Crisis and Transformation in the U.S.: Political Economy, Class, Social Movements, and Media

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Winter 2017
Credits per quarter

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This program will investigate four periods of crisis and transformation in the US, focusing on their impact on political economy, social movements, and the media.  While crises are often seen as "rough times" unexpectedly and temporarily interrupting what is taken as a "normal" aspect of progress, we will study them as aspects of fundamental change and restructuring which result in opportunities for some and reversals for others, often setting in motion a new political-economic trajectory.

For many, the economic and political crisis of the past decade was their first experience with a relatively sudden and severe economic downturn in which political priorities are restructured and outcomes uncertain.  Similarly, for many, 2011-12’s Occupy was their first experience of a mass opposition movement.  Yet these were not new phenomena in the US.  We will place our current crisis in historical and theoretical context through the examination of four major periods of political-economic crisis and transformation.  Two periods are well known; our current crisis and the deep depression that bridged the close of World War I to the opening of World War II.  Another largely forgotten period is the "Great Depression" of the late 19th century, out of which emerged a "modern" industrialized United States.  Additionally, we will investigate the first period of crisis, spanning the end of the revolutionary war through the ratification of the Constitution.  Each period was characterized by economic crisis and social upheaval, raising new political-economic possibilities and closing off others, ultimately resulting in a transformation of US capitalism.

We will also address the crisis of US journalism, providing theoretical and historical context by looking at the way critical  junctures in the evolution of the media (involving print journalism, telegraph, radio, and internet) coincided or not with the major crises of capitalism.  We will pay special attention to how and when the media served the interests of the powerful, and how and when the media served the interests of social movements. 

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: graduate study in political economy, political science, history and historical sociology, teacher education programs, and informed citizenship.

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.

Prior college-level work in history and/or political economy.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

First class meeting: Tuesday, January 10 at 10am (Sem II A3105).

2016-02-12Paul McMillin joins Jeanne Hahn to offer this program. This program will now accept Sophomores through Seniors.