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Comparative Politics:. Asking “Why” About The World. CP as a subfield of Political Science. What is Comparative Politics?. Study of Politics Within Countries Emphasis on politics “as they are,” not as they “should be”

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comparative politics

Comparative Politics:

Asking “Why” About The World

what is comparative politics
What is Comparative Politics?
  • Study of Politics Within Countries
  • Emphasis on politics “as they are,” not as they “should be”
  • Implicit and explicit emphasis on comparing and contrasting politics within and between countries, eras, & regions
comparative politics1
Comparative Politics:
  • Originated in late 1800s as subfield of political science
  • Originally minor field due to:
    • American bias
    • primarily done by Europeans themselves
  • Originally very formal – looked at constitutions, judicial rules, etc.
20 th century cp gets cool why

20th century: CP gets cool. Why?

Behavioral revolution (1920s, 1930s), World War II, and post-colonialism (1950s and 1960s)

what we study in cp examples
What we study in CP: examples
  • Why do some governments work more efficiently than others?
  • Under what conditions are totalitarian regimes likely to come to power?

Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Allegory of Good Government. Detail. 1337-40. Fresco. Sala dei Nove, Palazzo Publico, Siena, Italy

more examples of what we study in cp
More examples of what we study in CP:
  • Why do some communities get along well and others try to kill each other?
  • Why do some ethnic conflicts become genocidal?
current themes in cp
Democracies & Democratization

Politics of Advanced Industrial Democracies

transitions to democracy

legislative institutions, electoral systems, party systems

the judiciary

capitalism and democracy

democratic stability

Current Themes in CP
more themes in cp
More Themes in CP:

Political Economy

  • Liberalization
  • development
  • income distribution
  • business-govt relations
  • welfare states
  • welfare reform
  • corruption
  • Transitions from communism
more themes in cp1
Effects of globalization

Citizenship; minority rights; immigration

Social movements & social mobilization

More Themes in CP:
more themes in cp2
More Themes in CP:

Nationalism & ethnic conflict:

  • ethnic mobilization
  • conflict resolution
  • nationalist ideology
  • guerrilla movements
  • ethnic parties
the comparative in cp
The “Comparative” in CP:
  • One case (small n)

Why did the East German regime collapse so suddenly in 1989?

  • Many cases (large n)

Why did almost all the communist regimes of East Europe collapse in 1989?

  • Theoretically informed
how we do cp types of research
How we do CP: Types of research
  • Quantitative: based on numbers & statistical methods.
  • Qualitative: does NOT rely on numerical analysis. Tends to focus on one or a few cases. Includes in-depth interviews, analysis of documents, etc.

(“area specialists”)

how we do cp some sources of information

Surveys & polls

Court documents




Party programs





Other government documents

How we “do” CP: some sources of information
what are the five main tasks operations good comparativists engage in according to sodaro

What are the five main tasks (operations) good comparativists engage in, according to Sodaro?

looking for answers methods in cp

Looking for answers:Methods in CP

An example:

Why didn’t Iraqi citizens overthrow Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and 1990s?

three main methods types of answers
Three main methods (types of answers)
  • Rational-Choice
  • Culturalist
  • Historical Institutionalism
what s the point of a methodology
What’s the point of a methodology?!
  •  Helps you decide what to focus on (culture, economy, institutions, etc)
  • Helps you recognize your biases and preconceptions
  • Gives you a tool kit and useful vocabulary
  • Helps you “join” a conversation and encourage you not to re-invent the wheel.