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Unit 1- Conceptual Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics. Lesson 1- Purpose and Methods of Comparison and Classification. Exerpts from Syllabus….

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unit 1 conceptual introduction to comparative government and politics

Unit 1- Conceptual Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics

Lesson 1- Purpose and Methods of Comparison and Classification

exerpts from syllabus
Exerpts from Syllabus…..
  • The AP Comparative Government & Politics course will compare the governments of six countries: United Kingdom, Russia, China, Nigeria, Mexico and Iran. By studying other political systems, students will not only have a better understanding of their own system but will also have an introduction to global politics.
what s the difference
What’s the difference?


  • For each unit, your team will be given a set of topics to discuss for each country. Your team will research and prepare a presentation for the rest of the class that should last approximately 20-25 minutes. Presentations are required to have: visuals, handout for EVERYONE in the class, documentation of sources, participation by ALL members. In order for these presentations to be successful, team members must communicate regularly, have a capable leader, and must have clearly defined roles. Presentation materials must be given to me at least one class period in advance.


  • For each country, you will be expected to complete a country fact sheet (based off of the content in the various units. This sheet will be due on the test date for each country. Each student will be expected to use these country fact sheets to help compare and contrast between the various countries.
what s the difference1
What’s the difference?

Multiple Choice

  • You will have 45 minutes to complete 55 MC questions. They are similar to the AP US Govt. & Politics exam in format.
what s the difference2
What’s the difference?

Free Response Questions

  • Type I: Short Answer Questions-
    • They ask you to briefly define or describe a major concept in Comparative Politics and may or may not ask you to give an example from one of the countries.
    • They can be answered in 2-3 sentences.
    • There will be 5 of these on the exam. (suggested time: appx. 25 minutes to complete all 5)
what s the difference3
What’s the difference?

Free Response Questions

  • Type II: Conceptual Questions
    • This question will ask you to elaborate on one major concept in Comparative Politics and will NOT request country specific data.
    • This may have several subparts that you must elaborate on.
    • There is one of these types of questions and you should spend appx. 25 minutes on it.
what s the difference4
What’s the difference?

Free Response Questions

  • Type III: Country Specific Questions
    • These questions will ask you to provide country specific information to support a major concept in comparative politics.
    • There are two of these types of questions and the suggested length of time for the two questions is 50 minutes
    • You should take appx. 25 minutes each
purpose why study comparative politics
Purpose: Why study Comparative Politics?
  • Almond: Comparative Politics Today
    • The only way we can fully understand our own politicalsystem. Comparing the past and present of our nation and our experiences with other nations depends our understanding of our own political institutions.
      • Comparing takes us beyond the familiar and helps us expand our awareness of the possibilities of politics.
    • Helps us develop explanations and test theories of the way political change occurs.
purpose why study comparative politics1
Purpose: Why study Comparative Politics?
  • O’Neil- Essentials of Comparative Politics
    • Helps us place our own system in perspective by highlighting alternatives to our own political order and challenging our common assumptions that there is one right way to organize political life.
    • We ignore the outside world at our peril
      • Examples of U.S ignoring outside world?
    • By understanding politics in a comparative setting, we arm ourselves with the knowledge necessary to make informedpoliticalchoices about our own lives.
methods of comparison and classification
Methods of Comparison and Classification:

What is comparative politics and how do we study it? (descriptions, explanations, and predictions)

  • Comparative Politics- compares political struggles across countries.
  • Comparative Method-a way to make comparisons across cases and draw conclusions by drawing generalizations about politics.
methods of comparison
Methods of Comparison
  • SYSTEMS have moving parts that interact with their setting or environment. Politicalsystems, or the set of institutions and agencies concerned with formulating and implementing the collective goals of a society or group within it, are the ways that governments and states make policy. (discussed further next lesson)
  • STRUCTURES are specialized agencies who carry out government’s primary activities.
    • examples: Parliaments, bureaucracies, administrative agencies, and courts.
  • Structures all perform FUNCTIONS, which are the activitiesnecessary for policy to be made and implemented in a political system. Functions play a direct and necessary role in the process of making policy.
2 types of studies

Gathering of statisticaldata across a large number of countries in order to look for correlations and test hypotheses about cause and effect.

“Breadth over depth”

Researchers examine the relationships among variables and seek correlation and causal factors. More precise way of measuring things.

Example: taxation rates, voter turnout, page 33 in Almond book.


Mastery of a limitednumber of cases through the detailed study of their history, language, and culture. Focuses on unique aspects of nations.

“Depth over breadth”

Researchers need the depth provided in these studied to form insightful hypothesis for statistical testing in the first place. Also, can examine cause and effect relationships.

2 Types of Studies
classifications almond pp 13 16
Classifications(Almond pp. 13-16)
  • First, Second Third World countries has been the way to divide states of world since the 1950’s
    • First World countries-advanced capitalist democracies,
    • Second world countries are the communist bloc (formerly run by the Soviet Union)
    • Third world countries are the remaining states of the world who are not rich or western.
    • Fourth World- Near Failing or failing states. CHAOS
  • North and South is another way to classify nations with the north being the richer, capitalistic democracies, generally.
  • Big and SmallStates is the final way to classify nations. Geographic location has important strategic implications, often.
political institutions a guiding approach
Political INSTITUTIONS: A Guiding Approach
  • The best way to organize ideas and information in comparative political systems is through institutions. (patterns of activity that are self-perpetuating and valued for their own sake). Institutions are often seen as central to individual’slives and serve as the rules, norms, and values that give meaning to human activity.
  • In some nations, democracy is an institution whereas other nations hold allegiances to ethnicgroups or religion.
  • Sometimes, institutions are physicalobjects or places.
    • World Trade Center an American institution until 9/11/2001.
what is politics
What is politics?
  • A. Different public evaluations of politics
  • 1. excitement - comparable to a sport (Nixon)
  • 2. fascination—people care about issues & consequences locally and globally
  • 3. hatred—abuse of power, deceit, manipulation, treachery, and violence
  • 4. indifference—doesn’t directly impact things they care about
  • 5. most people are a combination of the above
  • B. Political decisions are social, public, and authoritative
  • 1. not all actions/decisions are political
  • 2. political decisions—public and authoritative
  • 3. consequences for multiple human beings; or within a political system
  • 4. many people value “private” life with friends and family more than public life
  • C. Associated with control of public decisions among people, in a given territory backed by authoritative and coercive means1. politics—authoritative in nature
  • 2. compulsion and coercion can be used
  • 3. authoritative and coercive powers
governments and the state of nature
Governments and the state of nature
  • A. State types
  • 1. Night watchman state
  • a. governments that provide basic law and order, defense, and protection of private property rights, but little else
  • 2. Predatory state
  • 3. Police state
  • 3a. Welfarestate—government provides social welfare, unemployment benefits, accident and sickness insurance, old age pensions, public education, etc
    • 1. Otto von Bismarck—Germany 1880s
    • 2. US stresses education
    • 3. many European nations stress social security and health programs
    • 4. costs 1/3 to 1/2 of GDP
  • 4. Regulatory state
    • 1. economic policies aiming to promote economic and social development and to distribute its benefits broadly
political philosophers and the role of the state state of nature the world if no government existed
Political philosophers and the role of the stateState of nature—the world if no government existed
  • 1. Thomas Hobbes
  • a. state of nature—“solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”
  • b. barbarism and continuous fear
  • c. role of government of quell disorder and protect against violence and war
  • c. Leviathan
  • 2. John Locke
  • a. role of government to protect property and promote economic commerce
  • b. enforce property rights and the rules of economic exchange
  • c. limited government
  • d. Two Treatises on Government
  • 3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • a. state of nature—humanity before its fall from grace
  • b. “man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains”
  • c. government as the source of power and inequality; causes of human alienation and corruption
  • c. The Social Contract
why governments
Why governments?
  • community and nation-building for peace
  • Service and order for security (inside and out)
  • Protecting property and other rights
  • Promoting economic efficiency and growth
  • Social Justice- level playing field
  • Protecting the Weak
when does government become the problem
When does government become the problem?
  • Critics of government:
    • anarchists and libertarians
  • Destruction of community-
    • people learn to be subservient to gov’t
  • Violations of basic rights- Nazi’s, Stalin, Mao
  • Economic inefficiency
  • Government for private gain
    • Corporate money influencing gov’ts (rent seekers)
  • Vested interests and inertia
  • Alternatives to government: markets and voluntary coordination
political systems
Political systems
  • Set of independent parts and environmental boundaries (institutions that work together to achieve goals of gov’t)
  • Backed by legitimate coercion and/or compliance
    • Legitimacy is easiest- If people believe in system then there’s no reason to roll in the tanks
  • Contribution institutions-
    • family, churches, schools
  • Internal and external sovereignty
  • Old and new states (191 new states since 2002)
  • First, second, and third world
  • Big and small states
building community
Building community
  • Nationality and ethnicity
  • States and nations- common history, ravce, culture, languange
  • Language
    • world languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, French, German, Chinese
  • Religious differences and fundamentalism
  • Cumulative and cross-cutting cleavages
fostering development
Fostering development
  • Rich and poor countries
  • Economic inequality
  • Population growth, economic development, and the environment
securing democracy human rights and civil liberties
Securing democracy, human rights, and civil liberties
  • Democratic and authoritarian systems
  • Third Wave of worldwide democratization
possible frq s
Possible FRQ’s

Explain the importance of studying comparative politics.

Describe why institutions are important when studying comparative politics?