Comparative Politics and Government POLS 150 A & B
Professor Sunil K. Sahu, Sahus@Depauw.edu
Office: Asbury 108A
Hours: Monday 2:30-4:30, Tuesday 9:00-9:50, and by appointment
Goals and Objectives
This course is designed to introduce students to the comparative study of politics and government. Rather than attempt broad comparisons at a high level of abstraction, we shall study the political systems of the First World (Western liberal democracies), the Second World (the Communist and post-Communist states), and the Third World (the developing nations). In particular, the course will examine political systems in five representative cases from the three worlds: Great Britain from the industrialized democracies, China from the communist and post-communist states, and India, Iran and Nigeria from the developing world. The political experience in each case will be studied in the context of its own cultural and historical settings. Such an approach will allow us
to see the differences within a particular type of regime. We shall inquire, for example, why Chinese communism is different from communism in the former Soviet Union; why democratic institutions have survived in India but not in most other Third World countries; why Great Britain, the mother of parliamentary democracy, has had a stable political system in modern time even though it does not have a written constitution. The answers to these questions, and many others, will invariably be found in the history, tradition, and political culture of a nation.
Our study of politics in five countries will focus on a comparison of their institutions, political parties, the role of ideology and leadership, varying developmental experience, and the performance of their governments. We shall also examine the domestic responses to global challenges in the post-9/11 era. Furthermore, the study of major approaches and theories of comparative politics, as applicable to liberal democratic, communist and post-communist, and developing Third World systems, will constitute an important part of the course. It will allow us to make the comparisons of the political institutions and processes in a systematic and more meaningful way. An understanding of theories and approaches of comparative politics will enable us to make broad generalizations about the countries to be studied and provide tools of analysis for further enquiry into other political systems.
The goals of the course are to help you understand and appreciate the different political systems that exist in the world today. In particular, it will help you answer the following broad questions:
Why are some countries democratic while others are dictatorships?
Why and how do authoritarian states make a transition toward democracy and what problems do new democracies usually face?
What accounts for the success of democracy in some developing countries but not in
Are one-party authoritarian states more efficient and stable than multi-party
Will China move toward Western-style democracy in the near future?
What factors lead to religious fundamentalism? Is religious fundamentalism on
Why are ethnic groups politicized in some countries but not in others?
Why do some countries have many parties whereas some have only a few?
How do governments form, and what determines the type of governments that
Required Texts and Other Readings
The two texts required for this course can be purchased online or at the DePauw University Bookstore.
1. Howard Wiarda, Comparative Politics: Approaches and Issues, Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.
2. Charles Hauss and Melissa Haussman, Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenge, 8th edition, Wadsworth, 2012.
3. Other required readings--chapters from various books and articles published in scholarly journals--are available on Moodle.
4. You are expected to keep yourself informed about developments in the three worlds. I am therefore requiring that each one of you take a semester subscription (online or paper edition) to The New York Times. The student subscription through Bloomington News will cost you $44.20 for the semester (M-F excluding spring break). You will benefit from the TV network or CNN Evening News programs and from National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" (Daily on 103.7 FM, at 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., respectively). I would also encourage you to watch international news on Al Jazeera online (http://www.aljazeera.com/. Free app is available for the iPhone).
My expectations from each one of you are high! You are expected to come to class prepared every time, i.e. having done the assigned reading. A "free rider" tendency will be strictly discouraged. It will be a fair game for me to identify the students, in a random fashion, in each class meeting who will respond to my question(s). There will be an opportunity for everyone to participate in the class discussions. I want my students to be active learners who will develop a sense of ownership over the course and the materials covered in this class.
Examinations (70%). There will be two semester exams--on March 5 and April 16--and a final exam on
Monday, May 13 at 1:00 P.M. (section A) or Thursday, May 16 at 1:00 P.M. (Section B). Semester exams
will count 40% (20% each) and the final exam 30% toward the final grade. Exams will draw extensively
on materials from lectures as well as required readings. It is not possible to neglect either and perform
adequately in the course. All the exams will consist of essay questions, short-answer questions, definitions,
leader identification, and current affairs questions.
Note: You must take the exam in the section (A or B) in which you are enrolled.
Class Participation and Attendance (10%).
Group Project (10%)
4. Quizzes. (10%). Four pop quizzes will be given during the semester; no make-up quizzes will be allowed.
ADA Compliance. In compliance with the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which
prohibit discrimination based on disability, DePauw University is committed to providing equal access to academic
programs and university-administered activities and reasonable modifications to students with disabilities. Questions
regarding the University’s policy for students with disabilities, documentation of the disability and requests for
modifications should be directed to the Coordinator of Student Disabilities Services, Pamela Roberts, 765-658-6267,
Harrison Hall 302.
General Rule: Failure to appear for an exam will result in a zero for the assignment. The only exception to this rule will
be documented legitimate excuses such as family, legal, and medical emergencies. You are expected to come to every
class meeting having done the assigned reading for the day. You will be penalized if you miss more than two classes at
the rate of 30 points for each unexcused absence.
Grading Policy: Grades will be given solely based on performance, not according to a "curve" or any predetermined
distribution. In principle, all students can receive A's or any other grade. The grading scale is as follows:
Exceptional and outstanding work.
Excellent work of an unusually strong quality.
Very good work
Slightly better than average work.
Worse than average
Very poor work
Very close to failing
59 or below
SCHEDULE AND ASSIGNMENTS (Weekly assignment will be posted on Moddle)
January 29: Introduction. What is Comparative Politics?
Part I: Concepts and Theories
January 31, Feb. 5 and 7
1. Comparative Politics--Why, What and How, History and Methodology
*Howard Wiarda, Comparative Politics: Approaches and Issues, Ch. 1 and 2.
*Sahu, "Political Science," Survey of Social Science: Government and
Politics Series, 1996.
*Mattei Dogan and Dominique Pelassy, How to Compare Nations: Strategies in
Comparative Politics, 2nd ed., Chatham House, 1990, Ch.1, pp. 5-13.
2. Key Concepts and Systems Theory
*Hauss, Ch. 1
*David Easton, "Systems Analysis," in Approaches to the Study of Politics.
Feb. 11, 14 and 19
3. Political Culture
*Wiarda, Chapter 4
*Hauss, pp. 32-33
"Cultural Explanations: The Man in Baghdad Cafe," Art. 46 in Annual Editions.
Benjamin Barber, "Jihad versus McWorld," Art. 49 in Annual Editions.
4. Modernization and Development
Wiarda, Ch. 3
Arturo Valenzuela, "Modernization and Dependency," pp. 416-420.
5. Sustainable Development. Dependency Theory
*Wiarda, pp. 79-84
*Arturo Valenzuela, "Modernization and Dependency," pp. 420-427.
*Tony Smith, "The Dependency Approach"
*Andre Gunder Frank, "The Development of Under-development"
Feb 26 and 28
6. Democracy and Democratization
*Wiarda, Ch. 6
*Hauss, pp. 23-32.
*Sahu, "Democracy and Democratic Governments"
*Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, "What Democracy Is...and Is Not,"
*Robert Dahl, What Political Institutions Does Large-Scale Democracy Require?,
March 5: Semester Exam 1
Part II: Government and Politics In Great Britain
March 7 and 12
7. British Tradition and Political Culture
*Hauss, Ch. 4, pp. 69-82
*Philip Norton, The British Polity, 3rd ed., Longman, 1994, Ch. 2.
8. Political Institutions and Constitutional Reforms
*Hauss, pp. 82-95
*"The Queen's Power: The Struggle to be Ancient and Modern," The Economist,
Dec. 12, 1987.
*Donley T. Studlar, "A Constitutional Revolution in Britain?"
Video: "Britain's Parliament at Work: Order, Order!" JN 508.063 1994
March 14 and 19
9. Party Politics: Thatcherism and Blarism
*Hauss, pp. 95-101
*Donley Studler, "The British general Election of 2005," Art. 3 in Annual Editions.
*"The Thatcher Legacy," Economist, October 2, 1993
*The Strange Tail of Tony Blair," Art. 4 in Annual Editions
*"Weighing the Votes: Why the Electoral System Favors Labor,"
Film: Will There Always Be An England?
This site of the British Information Service leads you to reams of material on Tony Blair
and the Labor Party, the European Union, relations with Northern Ireland, and many
other topics in the study of the British political system.
The official Web site of the British prime minister. There is a wealth of information on
The UK Prime Minister's home page, providing information about the activities of the
This Web site has a wealth of information about the British government.
(official Web site of the Labor Party)
(official Web site of the Conservative Party)
This unofficial Margaret Thatcher Site is the net's largest and most extensive site dedicated
to Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first woman Prime Minister. At this site you would be able
to find out about the woman who came to power as Europe's first ever female Premier, the
woman who was the first Prime Minister in over one hundred years to win three consecutive
terms in office, the woman who reversed the whole British economy and drove Britain out
of decline, the woman who won the Falklands War, who defeated the power of the trade
unions, and yet the woman who was forced out of Office by her own party.
Part III: Government and Politics in China
10. Historical and Cultural Setting, the Chinese Communist Party
*Hauss, Ch. 10, pp. 265-281
*"People's Republic of China: Tensions Between Modernization and Ideology," in China,
3rd edition, pp.5-30.
*Maurice Meisner, "China's Communist Revolution: A Half Century Perspective," Current
History, Sept. 1999.
Video Clip: The Two Coasts of China available at
Video: Mao By Mao
April 2 and 4
11. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, The Party State
*Hauss, pp. 285-289
*Edwin Moise, "The Great Leap and the Great Split," and "The Cultural Revolution," in Modern
China, Chapters 7 and 8.
*Mingzheng Shi, "Cultural Revolution," Video Clip
Film: Leaders of the Revolution
12. Economic Reform and Democracy Movement
*Hauss, pp. 289-296.
*Doug Guthrie, "China the Quiet Revolution," Art. 37 in Annual Editions
*Joseph Kahn, "China's Leader, Ex-Rival at Side, Solidifies Power," Art. 38 in Annual
Bueno de Mesquita, Downs and George, "Development and Democracy," Foreign Affairs,
Film:China After Tiananmen
Part of the European Internet Network, this site leads to information on China, including
recent news, government, and related sites pertaining to China, Hong Kong, Macao, and
April 9: Semester Exam II April 11: No Class, Asia Network Meeting
April 16 and 18
Part IV: Government and Politics in India
13. Historical and Cultural Setting, Religion and Politics
*Hauss, Ch. 12, pp. 3330-347.
*Sunil K. Sahu, "Hinduism," and "Mohandas K. Gandhi," in Asian American Encyclopedia,
*Sahu, "Religion and Politics in India: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism and the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," in Jelen and Wilcox Eds.), The One and the Many: Religion
and Politics in Comparative Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2002.
*P.B. Mehta, "India: The Nuclear Politics of Self-Esteem," Current History, December 1998.
*Ramesh Thakur, "Ayodhya and the Politics of India's Secularism: A Double-Standards
Discourse," Asian Survey, July 1993.
Film: Road to India's Independence
April 23 and 25
14. Political Institutions, Parties and Politics
*Craig Baxter et. al., Government and Politics in South Asia, Ch. 6.
"Sonia: And Yet So Far," Art. 39 in Annual Editions
Rajan Menon, "India's Democracy Provides Lessons," Art. 40 in Annual Edition.
*"Advantage Sonia," India Today, August 29, 2005.
Video: Life and Death of a Dynasty
The official Web site of the Bharatiya Janata Party which was in power from 1998-2004.
Web site of Sonia Gandhi, President of Indian National Congress and Chairperson of the United
15. Democracy and Development in India
*Hauss, pp. 358-367
*Susanne Rudolph and Lloyd Rudolph, "New Dimensions of Indian Democracy," Journal of
Democracy, January 2002 in Comparative Politics, Art. 39.
*Shalendra D. Sharma, "India's Economic Liberalization: The Elephant Comes of Age," Current
History, December 1996.
*Rajan Menon, "India's Democracy Provodes Lessons," Art. 35 in Annual Editions
*Prabhu Chawla, "Elections 2004," India Today, January 26, 2004, pp. 8-9.
*Amy Waldman, "India's Soybean Farmers Join the Global Village," NY Times, January 1, 2004.
April 30 and May 2
Politics in Nigeria
Rudolphs article on Indian Democracy (Moodle)
Hauss, pp. 429-441
Hauss, pp. 441-460
Hints of a New Chapter (Moodle)
May 7 and 9
Politics in Iran Hauss, pp. 363-378
Weiner, Legacy of Ashes (Moodle)