15 Comparative Politics and International Relations Comparative politics focuses on power and decision making within national boundariesInternational relations focuses on the interactions between national governments
16 What Is Comparative Politics? Can focus on the politics of one specific country (at the national or local level)Can focus on comparing several placesCan focus on comparing issues and processes in one or more places through time
17 Why Study Comparative Politics? To understand political issues in various countriesTo generate lessons from one place to apply in anotherOverall, the goal is to develop generalized understandings of political activity through the development of broad theories about how politics works
18 Developing TheoryTheory: An abstract element that provides a systematic explanation of some phenomenaEmpirical theory: An argument explaining what actually occursNormative theory: An argument explaining what ought to occur rather than what does occur
19 Research MethodsSingle case studies: One country or community to generate theories or test existing onesThe comparative method: A comparison of states that are similar on most issues but differ on a key questionQuantitative statistical techniques: used to systematically compare a large number of cases
20 Three Major Questions What explains political behavior? Who rules? Where and why?
21 What Explains Political Behavior? Why do political actors act as they do in the political arena?Political actor: Any person or group engaged in political behavior
22 What Explains Political Behavior? Three broad approaches focus on:Individual motivationCulture and ideologyUnderlying structures
23 Individual Motivation Rational choice theoryAssumes that people are rational, have self-defined interests and the knowledge and ability to pursue themPsychological theoriesLook for nonrational explanations: individuals’ psychological experiences or dispositions
24 Culture and IdeologyPolitical culture theories: Widely held values and beliefs help explain political behaviorModernists believe clear attitudes, values, and beliefs can be identified within a political culturePostmodernists see culture as sets of symbols that political actors can usePolitical ideology: A systematic set of beliefs about how a political system ought to be structured
25 StructuralismPolitical behavior is influenced and limited, perhaps even determined, by socioeconomic or political structuresMarxism: Economic structures largely determine political behaviorRational-choice institutionalism: Institutions are the products of the interaction and bargaining of rational actors
26 Who Rules? Pluralist theory Elite theory Power dispersed among various political groups in societyElite theorySocieties ruled by elite with effective control over virtually all powere.g., Marxism, neocolonialism, patriarchy
27 Where and Why?Particular focus and contribution of comparative politicsComparison across multiple cases to understand why political phenomena occur in certain places and times and not in othersUseful in generating broad theories of political behavior
28 Major Topics in Comparative Politics Political developmentRegime type and changeParticipation and representationPolicy-making processesPolitical economy
29 Political Development Focus is on why and how did modern nations and states ariseNations: groups with a shared identityStates: administrative apparatuses that control territory and monopolize the use of force
30 Political Development Modernization: The transformation of poor agrarian societies into wealthy industrial societiesSome countries achieve rapid economic transformation and establish electoral democracies (e.g. South Korea)Some poor countries are democratic (e.g. Ghana)Some nondemocratic countries achieve great economic change (e.g. Vietnam)
31 Regime Type and Regime Change What types of regimes are there and how do they differ?Examples: Democratic, authoritarian, semi- authoritarianUnder what conditions do regimes change from one type to another?
32 Regime Type and Regime Change Democracy: A regime in which citizens have basic rights of open association and expression and the ability to change the government through some sort of electoral processAuthoritarian regime: A regime lacking democratic characteristics, ruled by a single leader or small group of leaders
33 Participation and Representation Why and how do people participate in the political process?How do strong “identity politics” affect the stability of democracy?What is the role of civil society, interest groups, and political parties?
34 Participation and Representation Civil Society: The sphere of organizes, nongovernmental, nonviolent activity by groups larger than individual families or firms
35 PolicymakingHow do different regimes decide on which policies to pursue?What role do political institutions play?Who is most influential in the policy-making process?Do decisions reflect the will of the people?
36 Political EconomyDo some types of regimes produce better economic outcomes than othersSome authoritarian systems provide strong economic growth (e.g., China) and others do not (e.g., Nigeria)Some democracies are capable of achieving beneficial economic outcomes, while others do not