What are the different constitutional, ideological, and social bases of political legitimacy?
How have the governments of these nations secured legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens?
What role does economic development and political culture play in their politics?
Relationship between Social Groups
Society divides into ethnic and religious groups and linguistic communities.
How do these divisions affect politics?
Why do some communities get along well and others try to kill each other?
Why do some ethnic conflicts become genocidal?
Relationships between Citizens and States
Society divides into social and economic classes
What are the variety of roles played by citizens in different types of states?
How kinds of institutions mediate between state and social classes?
Liberal systems rely upon autonomous organizations (USA, Great Britain)
In corporatist systems, these institutions could be more closely aligned with the state.
Other forms of interactions
Voting, protest, litigation, campaign activities?
How do political systems affect which interests in society are best represented in the formation of public policy?
Political Institutions and Frameworks
What are the functions of governmental institutions in different countries?
Why are some states able to coerce their subjects effectively and others not?
Why are some polities able to control the actions of those who exercise political power and others not?
Which performs better, presidential or parliamentary system?
Why do some governments work more efficiently than others?
What are the sources, scope and consequences of political change in different countries?
What are the causes of social revolution?
French, Mexican, Russian, Chinese Revolutions?
What were the causes and results of the recent wave of democratization?
Political and economic integration or disintegration among and within countries (USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia)?
Precautions in Conducting Comparative Studies
Where is the “Middle East”?
Are places “fixed” in space and time?
2. What is “Normal”?
Who (if anyone) is exploited here?
3. Some actors are more powerful than others (the playing field is not even)
4. What are your assumptions about politics, and how often do you question them?
What is the best form of government?
If a company has the opportunity to improve its efficiency through better technology, should it do it, even if it means laying off workers?
Discourses & their hegemony
Are there any alternatives out there?
5. Western Civilization?
The Black Athena Debate
Ancient Greece, and hence Western civilization, derived much of its cultural roots from Afroasiatic (Egyptian and Phoenician) cultures.
6. Is the most visible part of the political performance really the most important part?
7. Uncertainty of Truth: Which part of the picture are you seeing?
Class in Next Week
Video show: “Manufacturing Consent,” Part I “Thought Control in a Democratic Society”
“When you can't control people by force, you have to control what people think, and the standard way to do this is via propaganda (manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusions), marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy of some fashion. — Noam Chomsky
How do We Compare?
Description and classification of political phenomena