Reader for Introduction to California Governments and Politics


This Reader for Introduction to California Governments and Politics consists of CC-licensed, peer-reviewed journal articles.

Curator(s) of Resource

  • Josh Franco, Ph.D.

General Description

Examination of the structure and functions of California state and local governments and politics. Attention will be given to the evolution of the principal features, organization, and operation of state and local governments within the framework of U.S. federalism from the time of the nation’s founding. Emphasis is on the role of significant events, major ethnic groups, and major social groups in the development of the political structures and processes of California state and local governments and contemporary political issues.


Comprised of units to give students perspectives on state and local politics, especially including:

  • The evolution and problems of the U.S. federal system and California’s relationship within this system
  • California’s Constitution and its state and local government structures, functions, and policymaking processes
  • A comparison of these structures and processes with other state and local governments
  • Contemporary policy problems facing California and other states and localities
  • California’s external relations including with its neighbor, Mexico

Course Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Describe and analyze the evolution of the relationship of the states and the U.S. in its entirety, with a special emphasis on U.S. California relations, including the relationship of regions within the U.S.
  • Detail the origins and development of the state of California and how this development reflects the continuity of the American experience and how that experience was derived from other political cultures and shaped by California’s geography, economics, and social movements.
  • Compare and contrast California’s Constitution with the U.S. Constitution, including the influence of the political philosophies of the framers of the U.S. Constitution as well as the rights and obligations of citizens under the U.S. and California Constitution.
  • Compare and contrast the California governmental system with other sub-national governments in the United States, and with regional and local governments in other selected nations including the relationships of these governments with external regions and powers.
  • Describe and evaluate the contemporary public policy issues facing state and local governments.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the principles, governmental structures, and civil societal elements of California government and politics.
  • Summarize the historical roots and contemporary evolution of California government and politics.
  • Apply normative and positive approaches to the study of California government and politics.
  • Analyze existing applications of political science to topics such as California civil liberties, civil rights, governmental structure, and civil society.
  • Evaluate the similarities, differences, and relationships between the State Senate, State Assembly, Governor, the Bureaucracy, the Judiciary, the Media, and the Public.