Why do political regimes and institutions develop how they do, where they do? Why are some countries democratic and others not? Why do people use political violence in some places and times? What role does culture play in contemporary politics? What effects do different institutional designs have upon political outcomes? Why do different ethnic groups sometimes live together peacefully, and sometimes not? Why does the level of voter turnout vary across countries? Why is nationalism stronger in some places?
This module introduces the core issues, methods, and concepts of comparative politics. It provides a broad range of methods and approaches of comparative political science. The module first addresses what can be understood by comparative political science. It will become clear that there are different opinions on this matter. Then, we will pay attention to the methodological aspects and problems encountered in comparative political science research. We examine issues such as what to compare (and with what), how many cases and variables should be included and which conclusions can be drawn from the results. It will be made clear that different methods and approaches may lead to different results.
In the rest of the module, some core areas of comparative political analysis will be explored. We shall cover the basic concepts and issues of comparative politics, such as regime change, democratization, nationalism, civil war, poverty, political participation, the role of culture, and ethnic identity. Countries also have different types of political institutions: there are big cross-national differences in types of electoral systems, parties, and legislatures. We will discuss the different characteristics of the types and their impact on the democratic quality, economic and political performance. The module covers developments in different political systems in the contemporary world, so not only in industrialized democracies and post communist regimes, but also in developing countries of the so-called third world.
In short, the aims of the module are
- to introduce students to the methodological and theoretical foundations of comparative approaches to political science;
- to deepen their knowledge in a number of relevant areas of comparative political research;
- to analyze and compare some of the current political developments in different countries around the world