This course is designed as an introductory survey of the field of comparative politics, a subfield of the discipline of political science that analyzes political phenomena and institutions at the domestic (state and sub-state) level. In this course we will explore a broad range of topics such as institutions, the modern state and its formation, autocratic and democratic regimes, varieties of executive-legislature institutional design, state breakdown and regime transition and revolutions, political parties and electoral systems, political conflict and violence, ethnicity and nationalism, and economic development. While these topics do not constitute an exhaustive list, they arguably represent the most important ones that concern the field of comparative politics at large.
This course has been designed for students to achieve the following objectives:
1. Understand what ‘comparative politics’ means and encompasses, and how it is ‘done’
2. Recognize and comprehend the causes and consequences of political, economic and social phenomena as they relate to the study of comparative politics
3. Think critically about the issues, theories, arguments and empirical cases contained in the course lectures and readings
4. Apply the theories and frameworks contained in the course lectures and readings to our contemporary worl
5. Achieve a solid intellectual foundation in preparation for other advanced political science courses
The following questions offer an overview of the themes that we will cover in this course:
1. What are institutions and why do they matter for the study of politics?
2. Why is the modern state the primary form of human political organization in the world today, and what do they exist for?
3. Why do authoritarian regimes exist and persist in some states, while in other states democ- racy has successfully entrenched itself?
4. Why does democratization occur, and what factors explain democratic consolidation?
5. What explains the variations in certain domestic political institutions across different states, and what consequences do they have for each state itself and its societies?
6. Why do human beings tend to organize politically around social categories such as ‘ethnic- ity’ and ‘nation’ more so than other types of social categories?
7. Why is violence prevalent in some states and societies but not others?
8. Why are some states rich and others poor?
The breakdown of the grading component for this course is as follows:
1. Two Response Papers (10 % each)
Students will be asked on their opinions regarding materials from lectures and/or readings. Each response paper should be typed out in 12-size font, double-spaced, and no longer than two pages long in total. Students will be given three full days to complete the assignment and must submit their response papers via Canvas before their respective deadlines.
2. Take-home Midterm Examination (40 %)
Students will be tested on the materials in the lecture slides and readings up till the halfway point of the course.As we are operating on a rather tight schedule, no review sessions before the examination will be held. The midterm examination should be typed out in 12-size font, double-spaced, and no longer than eight pages long in total. Students will be given seven full days to complete the assignment and must submit their midterm examination via Canvas before the deadline.
3. Take-home Final Examination (40 %)
Students will be tested on the materials in the lecture slides and readings, with a much greater emphasis on thesubstantive material that will be covered after the midterm examination. As we are operating on a rather tight schedule, no review sessions before the examination will be held. The final examination should be typed out in 12-size font, double-spaced, and no longer than eight pages long in total. Students will be given seven full days to complete the assignment and must submit their midterm examination via Canvas before the deadline.
- Response Paper 1: July 9 (11:59PM, PDT)
- Midterm Examination: July 23 (11:59PM, PDT)
- Response Paper 2: August 6 (11:59PM, PDT)
- Final Examination: August 20 (11:59PM, PDT)
All the reading materials (book chapters and journal articles) for this course will be made available for download on Canvas. Students will not have to purchase any supplementary textbooks for this course. There will be two lectures pre-recorded every week and they will be made available to students on Canvas at the start of each week by 12PM on Mondays. I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus and the list of readings as the course progresses, and I will announce to the class accordingly if such changes become necessary. Students are expected to have completed the readings before the lecture of the corresponding topic so that they will get the most out of the lectures. Understanding the readings will go a long way towards helping you to do well in the response papers andexaminations.
Note: This is a reading-heavy course. There will be weeks in which you will read much more than others, and some of the readings are quite dense. If you are not prepared to do the readings and listen to the lectures consistently andconscientiously, you will not be able to reap the full benefits of this course and you are much less likely to do well in this course as a consequence.