Undergraduate Catalog

Political Economy

Coordinator: Elizabeth Bennett

The political economy minor investigates the nature and consequences of the dynamic interaction between political and economic forces. These forces are shaped and driven by a complex array of social relationships and interests, and are expressed through a diverse range of processes that operate at the local, national, and global levels. Courses in the minor explore the political-economic dynamic from multiple disciplinary perspectives and historical angles, using a variety of conceptual approaches.

To earn a minor in political economy, students must complete five courses: two required core courses and three electives. The core courses, located in the departments of Economics, International Affairs, and Sociology-Anthropology, introduce students to various theories of political economy and examine their application to significant national and international patterns and developments.

The elective courses are distributed into three concentrations. Students minoring in political economy must take one class from each. Courses in the first concentration, Global Dynamics, explore how living and working conditions throughout the world are shaped by the interrelationship between national and global political and economic processes. Courses in the second concentration, National Structures and Power, examine the ways in which the roots and exercise of power, as well as sociocultural dynamics, are structured by the political-economic relationship as it emerges in a unique national context. Courses in the third concentration, Cultural Forces and Social Movements, investigate theoretically and practically the importance and interplay of culture, power, resistance, and social change.  

Potential employers and graduate programs seek liberal arts graduates who have strong analytical skills and knowledge of contemporary events; a political economy minor offers evidence of such preparation. Reflecting the sponsoring faculty’s broad array of training and interests, the minor highlights a wide range of potential applications and topics. Examples include the interplay between social relations and the organization of production; the relationship between governments and markets in determining national development, power, and political stability; the ways in which ideas, discourse, gender, race, and identity affect and interact with political and economic forces to structure social environments; the influence of state power on the global economy; and the role of social movements in promoting economic and political change.

Students may enhance any major through the addition of a minor in political economy. Those interested in pursuing a political economy minor should schedule a meeting with one of the sponsoring faculty to discuss program offerings and develop a curricular plan.

Minor Requirements

A minimum of 20 semester credits (five courses), distributed as follows:

  • Two courses from the following:
    ECON 250Radical Political Economics
    IA 340International Political Economy
    SOAN 300Social Theory
  • Three electives, one from each of the following three concentrations:

    Global Dynamics
    ECON 232Economic Development
    ECON 255Technology, Institutions, and Economic Growth
    IA 238Political Economy of Development
    IA 340International Political Economy
    IA 350Social Justice in the Global Economy
    SOAN 249The Political Economy of Food
    SOAN 265Critical Perspectives in Development
    SOAN 270Cultural Politics of Youth in East Asia
    SOAN 350Global Inequality
    SOAN 360Colonialism and Postcolonialism
    SOAN 365The Political Economy of Green Capitalism
    SOAN 366Debt and Its Discontents

    National Structures and Power

    ECON 220The Financial System and the Economy
    ECON 250Radical Political Economics
    ECON 256The Industrial Revolution
    HIST 142Modern Latin American History
    HIST 243African American History Since 1863
    HIST 347Modern Mexico: Culture, Politics, and Economic Crisis
    POLS 307Government and the Economy
    RHMS 360Digital Media and Society
    SOAN 353Popular Culture/Public Protest: China

    Cultural Forces and Social Movements

    SOAN 214Social Change
    SOAN 221Sociology of Work, Leisure, and Consumption
    SOAN 254The Social Life of Money and Exchange
    SOAN 274Chinese Culture Through Film
    SOAN 285Culture and Power in the Middle East
    SOAN 300Social Theory
    SOAN 324Anthropology of Violence
    SOAN 342Power and Resistance

Faculty

Sepideh Azarshahri Bajracharya. Assistant professor with term of anthropology. Political culture of violence, communal politics, memory, narrative, urban ethnography, anthropology of space, South Asia. PhD 2008 Harvard University. BA 1999 Wesleyan University.

Elizabeth A. Bennett. Assistant professor of international affairs, director of the Political Economy Program. International political economy, global social movements, voluntary social/environmental regulation, international development global governance. PhD 2014, AM 2010 Brown University. MALD 2008 The Fletcher School, Tufts University. BA 2002 Hope College.

Robert Goldman. Professor of sociology. Social theory, cultural studies (advertising, news, television), production and consumption, class relations, modernity, postmodernity. PhD 1977, MA 1973 Duke University. BA 1971 University of Texas.

Jennifer Hubbert. Associate professor of anthropology, chair of the Department of Sociology/Anthropology. Chinese public culture, anthropology of the state, politics of popular culture and public protest, anthropology of policy, cities and urbanization. PhD 1999, MA 1994 Cornell University. MA 1987, BA 1986 Stanford University.

Oren Kosansky. Associate professor of anthropology, program director of Middle East/North Africa Studies. Political economy of religious experience, postcolonial nationalism and diaspora, textual culture, Morocco. PhD 2003, MA 1994 University of Michigan. MAT 1990 Binghamton University. BA 1988 Brown University.

Bruce M. Podobnik. Associate professor of sociology. Environmental sociology, social movements, quantitative methods, Latin America. PhD 2000, MA 1994 Johns Hopkins University. BA 1991 University of California at Santa Cruz.

Éric Tymoigne. Associate professor of economics. Macroeconomics, money and banking, monetary theory. PhD 2006 University of Missouri at Kansas City. MA 2000 Université Paris-Dauphine. BA 1999 Université de Bretagne Occidentale à Brest.

Elliott Young. Professor of history, director of the Ethnic Studies Program. Latin American and U.S.-Mexico Borderlands history. PhD 1997, MA 1993 University of Texas at Austin. BA 1989 Princeton University.