This course will outline — in broad parameters — some core ideas and approaches to comparative politics. As the field is very broad and ever increasing, we will emphasize a more traditional approach to study the field. We will first explore some historical and methodological underpinnings of comparative politics. Then we will examine some major trends in comparative politics.
The required texts for the class are as follows:
Brown, Bernard E. Comparative Politics: Notes and Readings,9th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College
Huntington, Samuel P. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century Norman,
OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
Lijphart, Arend. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and performance in Thirty- Six Countries.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
Wiarda, Howard J. Editor. Introduction to Comparative Politics: Concepts and Processes, 2nd ed.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1993.
Zahariadis, Nikolaos, Theory, Case, and Method in Comparative Politics. Forth Worth, TX: Harcourt
Brace College Publishers, 1997.
During the course, there will be three major exams as well as two papers. Each student is responsible for bringing a blue book on the day of the exam, including the final exam. Each exam counts for 100 points and the papers count for 150 points: 50 for the first, 100 for the second. Attendance and participation will be used to decide the remaining 50 points for the course. Therefore there are 500 points possible (double to get your grade). Perfect attendance without any participation will merit a middle to low C. Good participation and comments reflect that students have read and have an initial understanding of the materials. So if no one can field questions about the assigned readings for the day and this persists over the course of the semester, then the grade will still hover about a middle C. Should it become clear that students have not been reading the assigned readings prior to class, a regime of pop quizzes will be instituted and used to calculate the participation grade.
The first paper is intended to get the students acquainted with the traditional approach of comparative politics. In this paper, students compare and contrast two countries using close to a structural-functionalist approach. As such, students should choose two countries and compare them according to type of government according to such criteria as types of institution (presidential/parliamentary/authoritarian), parties (SMDP/PR), interest articulation, and so on. The points of comparison should be the form of government of each and relative contexts that shape politics and political institutions. [Pay attention during this lecture!]
The second paper is a research paper and requires students to use one of the core ideas or approaches of comparative politics to analyze problems or developments within a country or a region. Students must show how (or test to see if) one of the major theories or approaches presented in class is consistent with or can account for — or are at odds with — particular institutions, parties, or some political, economic, or social development within a country of their choice. Is the paradigm consistent with outcomes in the country? Can a competing paradigm answer the question more effectively? As such, students should ask themselves what predictions a theory or approach would have for a country or its policies. Then they should see if these are present or apparent within the country or region. A full discussion of why these predicted or anticipated phenomena are or are not present is expected, as is a discussion of the political or economic fundamentals of the country involved — depending on the nature of the predictions involved. One way to think about the paper is to choose two rival theories and test them in a critical case. Another approach would be to take a theory and test it in two different cases (e.g., countries, regions). Another approach would be to test one theory in several cases using statistical tests. However, the paper must show knowledge of the tools of comparative politics, the ins and outs of the theories to be tested, and a working knowledge of the cases involved sufficient to test their ideas. Therefore, the paper should have a section over viewing or reviewing the literature on the theories (y) involved, an outline of how the theories are to be tested or examined, an operationalization of the ways of testing the theory and then analysis of the cases to test the theory according to the operationalization of the theory(ies). It should be as rigorous as the methods paper.
This second paper requires students to use a minimum of six academic sources. As both papers are research papers, they should use footnotes or endnotes as well as a bibliography to make citations. As such, students should use at least six articles from major political science journals or scholarly books (if you are in doubt about a specific title, ask me either in class or after or look to see if there is extensive use of footnotes and bibliographies). Articles from popular magazines, such as Time or Newsweek can be listed and used as background information, or for specific matters of fact; however, they will not count toward the six sources. If there are any questions about how to make proper citations, students should consult Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. These are available at the bookstore, as well as in the library. Earlier editions are fine. She outlines both APSA and Chicago formats. You can also use Scott and Garrison’s The Political Science Student Writer’s Manuel. I will accept either the ASPA or Chicago format, but I will not accept a combination of formats. We will not cover in class how to make proper citations, but students are responsible for making the citations according to this convention. Papers that use citations willy-nilly [not following a consistent format, or a poor one] will be marked down accordingly.
It must also be between ten and fifteen pages long (or longer IF necessary), [not counting title page, end notes, outline, or bibliography] be double spaced (or 1.5), have a proper outline attached, and have a bibliography with at least six references. [Students may use either end notes or footnotes. These need to be used when you do the following: quote someone else’s material directly; allude to someone else’s ideas or contributions; or cite hard to find or specific evidence (e.g., the per capita income for the US in 1994).] And it is due on April 25, 2002 A.D. in class. It will be marked down half a grade for every business day that it is late.
Finally, students need meet with me twice: first to clear the topic, and second, to meet half way through to make sure the topic and methodology are working.