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PolSci6 - Comparative Politics a sub-field of political...

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September 27, 2010 Comparative Politics - a sub-field of political science - American Politics - International Relations - relationships between countries - Political Theory - a method to understand general political phenomena - to compare is among the most common ways of understanding (mini van example) - scientists are naturally “comparativists” - social scientists generally cannot experiment, so we compare sys- tematically - can’t experiment on entire populations or nations (ie. see what would happen if we destroyed an entire economy) The Comparative Approach - Why do we compare? - we compare to control, understand, and explain - causal theories to explain general phenomena (x causes y) - How do we choose what to compare? - most similar systems? - most different systems? - notice the similarities and differences to pinpoint why there are differ- ences in political outcomes - What do we “comparativists” compare? - the domestic politics of states - power- how it is won, lost, abused, distributed, organized, and contested - outcomes- the quality of democracy, the transition to democracy, man- agement of ethnic conflict - these things are what politicians and democracies compete on What is a state? Features: - operates in a fixed territory - sovereignty over that territory - legally and politically independent - recognized internally and externally as the legitimate authority - monopoly on legitimate use of force - NOT the same as a “nation” or “government” Part I: The Advanced Democracies - the advanced democracies are the most similar sets of states available for com- parison, they are also the most successful societies in the world - more fully meeting the needs of their citizens than other type of political system - enjoy economic and political freedom - how reps elected vary across states but all are democratic - The Origins of Democracy: - Britain - birthplace of parliament - The United States - first modern mass democracy
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Democracy - representative, not direct - methods of election vary, but voters choose reps from competing political parties - citizens are also free to participate in civic life via interest groups, protests, pub- lic organizations, etc... - citizens assume a certain equality - not complete, but higher than in other polit- ical systems - non-personalistic legal system, ie. the rule of law respecting basic human rights - non-personalistic legitimacy: rational-legal legitimacy (rather than trade or charismatic) What is a Liberal Democracy? Classic Liberalism : - limited government (freedom from government) - a social contract (Constitution) Economic Liberalism : - capitalism - minimal government intervention in the economy - liberalism is a political ideology that supports limited government, individual freedom, social tolerance, and the redistribution of resources (to varying de- grees) Common Characteristics - politically stable - we do not expect serious change in any of these countries - economically successful and “post-industrial” - ie. their economic structures are dominated by services, agriculture is modern (mechanized, industrial, subsid- ized) but plays a minor role -
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