CP Chapters 1-3

CP Chapters 1-3 - Comparative Politics, Kopstein & Lichbach...

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1: What is Comparative Politics (1-15) - The state is an organization that possesses sovereignty over its people. No two are ruled exactly the same way. - Comparativists (that is political scientists who study and compare the politics of different countries) provide answers to these questions. - The first Comparativists were political theorists. - Greek political theorists such as Plato and Aristotle identified different kinds of political order such as aristocracy (“the best rule”), oligarchy (“the rule of few”), democracy (“the rule of the people”) and tyranny (“the rule of the tyrant”). - Comparativists try to explain why it is this way. - Comparativists spend a great deal of time trying to understand and identify the general conditions- social, economic, ideological, institutional, and international. - A subfield of international relations. Ex. Thucydides who attempted to understand the origins and consequences of the Peloponnesian wars between Greek city-states. - Division of labour of Comparativists: - Some study “domestic politics”. - Some are international relations specialists. - Some study “foreign policy”. - Comparativists also understand the huge impact that international relations has upon the politics of almost every country in the world. Regime Types and Tools of Analysis - Comparativists are most frequently interested in the origins of different kinds of government and “regime types”. - What are the main characteristics of those orders, and why do they appear where and when they do? - Even though a country is classified under a certain regime they never practice it perfectly. Tools of Analysis: Interests, Identities, and Institutions: - How best to evaluate the conditions that produce political regimes in question. - A first group of comparativists maintains that what matters most is material interests. - To get a handle on the politics of a given country. - Studying material interests in its society and how those interests organize themselves to gain power. - A second group of Comparativists who think you are- your identity- determines what you really want. Yes, all people require food and shelter, but beyond this minimum what people value most in this world may have little to do with maximizing their material lot. - Religion and ethnicity are two of the most common forms that identity takes. - A third set of Comparativists say what matters most are institutions, the long-term, authoritative rules and procedures that structure how power flows. -Political life is teeming with institutions.
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- Comparativists apply the tools of interests, identities, and institutions and not only to the determinants of regime type. - They also use these concepts to understand why countries have the kinds of public policy they
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This note was uploaded on 02/11/2012 for the course POLI 211 taught by Professor Sabetti during the Fall '08 term at McGill.

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CP Chapters 1-3 - Comparative Politics, Kopstein & Lichbach...

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