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These Reich and Murray readings derive from very different points of view. While both authors have significant academic credentials, appropriate to consider them experts in social policy, their writings are attempts to appeal to a slightly more popular audience and to argue for a particular political perspective on a range of issues. They are not representative of empirical research in the field of social policy, although both authors clearly are drawing from their academic knowledge. They are editorial in nature and fairly polemical in rhetorical style. You will probably strongly dislike the positions of one or the other (or both!)
But, in the field of policy studies, we can’t simply ignore one view or another. We have to learn to be adept at teasing out, analyzing, and critiquing various points of view. And that requires full and fair coverage of alternative views. This is one of the hardest tasks in policy analysis. Reading an argument from the “opposition” is difficult even if you know you disagree because it can sound so reasonable, well documented, and coherently argued. And then when you read an alternative view and also find that to be reasonable and well-argued, you can get frustrated and confused. So, take the reading slowly and go back over it.
When you have a reasonable handle on their perspectives, try to deal with the following questions in a 5-7 page essay. First things first: you need to demonstrate you have read their writings, both online as well as in the course space. Also, you need to refer explicitly to Gilbert and Terrell to draw on their concepts in your essay as well.
Remember, don’t treat them as “end of the chapter questions,” answering each in turn, but try to construct a coherent organization of your own that answers them in an essay that has its own structure. For many students, the best structure for the paper is to imagine a debate between the two. What would they say to each other? How would they answer each other’s arguments with respect to the question of social inequality and a specific issue, such as race relations?
First, please answer the following question:
How would these authors explain the problem of rising inequality in American society?
What are the causes and consequences of this inequality?
What is the role of race in their analysis, if any?
What are the primary policy solutions that each author would recommend and why?
What are the essential differences between Reich’s and Murray’s points of view?
What different assumptions are their perspectives based on?
If you imagine a debate between these two, what would they say to each other? What would be their most telling points of criticisms of each others’ positions?
As a moderator of the debate, what might Putnam have to offer or question?
Finally, write a brief comparative summary from your own perspective. How do you stand on these issues? (This should be a minimal part of the essay–no more than a page.)
Remember to fully document this essay. Include citations so that the reader can find what you are referring to. You must include 5-7 sources in your essay! It might be helpful to include material collected on the “scavenger hunt” in your essay–just remember to include citations. And include a bibliography in this and all graduate papers.