POLS-1300 Comparative Politics in Changing WorldFALL 2020 / LECTURE 2 / SEPT 15, 2020PROF. ELENA MALTSEVA
Asking WhyDescriptive questions: Who, what, when and whereComparative politics: Subfield of political science that uses thecomparative method to analyze multiple cases◦Involves asking “why” questions◦Why did Tanzania gain independence from its colonizer?◦Why was Jair Bolsonaro elected President of Brazil?◦Why are aspects of globalization leading to job loss in Canada?◦Answering why questions requires more research, more reasoning and more debate◦And we can disagree on the primary cause of why something happenedWeconstruct arguments by supplying evidence in a logical form in support of positionsor claims, and the relative merit of our arguments depends on who has the bettersupporting evidence.
Asking Why“Why” questions give rise to answers that talk about the causes of events, and they turn basicfacts (who, what, when and where) into evidence supporting a claim about cause and effect.◦We seek to develop strong claims about cause and effect, testing various hypotheses (that is, possibleanswers to our questions) using factual evidence and developing larger theories about why the worldoperates the way it does.Few political phenomena are monocausal, or caused by just one thing.E.g. “In 2015, the Liberal Party won the federal election.”◦Tells who, what, where, when◦“Why” is more difficult to answer (and “why” is often debatable)◦A well-organized campaign team throughout the country◦Weakening economy, unpopular conservative government◦Justin Trudeau being a younger leader, a generational shift
Major Questions in Comparative PoliticsWhy did modern states emerge and grow?Why are some countries rich and others poor?Why are some countries democracies and others not?What are effects of different institutions?Why do revolutions happen?Why do identities and beliefs matter?Why do ideology and religion affect modern politics?Emphasis on questions of cause and effectAnswers often include saying who, what, when, where, how
Major Questions in Comparative PoliticsConsider the following question:◦“Why are some countries democratic and others not?”◦Make this question specific to case(s) to research◦E.g. Why is India a democracy?◦E.g. Why is China not a democracy?◦E.g. Why is Ghana a democracy and Togo not?◦“Why” questions can generate debate about what are the best answers◦They involve arguments: evidence in support of a position or claim
Major Questions in Comparative PoliticsIt is possible to ask questions that don’t begin with “why”◦What are the consequences of different kinds of institutions for policy?◦What are the consequences of presidential vs. parliamentary systems foreducation policy?