Introduction to Comparative Politics gpa 2130



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Introduction to
Comparative Politics

GPA 2130

Wang Shaoguang 王绍光

Personal Information

  • Office hour:

  • Monday & Wednesday 14:00-16:00

  • Phone number 2609-7515

  • Email: wangshaoguang@cuhk.edu.hk

Outline

  • Course information

  • Basic concepts in comparative politics

  • Studies of politics

  • Studies of comparative politics

  • Themes in comparative politics

  • Precautions in conducting comparative studies

Course Information

Purposes of the Course

  • Main feature

  • Thematic approach to understand main issues, key concepts, and major theories in comparative politics

  • Main purposes

  • Stimulate your interest in the study of comparative politics

  • Develop conceptual tools and analytical skills

  • Broaden your international knowledge

Textbook

How to Order?

Structure of the Class

  • Part I: Introduction

  • Introduction to Comparative Politics

  • Video show: Manufacturing Consent, Part I

  • Classification and Comparison

  • Part II: Nation-States

  • Nation-States: Geography, Society, Economy & Globalization

  • Political Ideologies: Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism

  • Part III: Citizens and Interest Mediation

  • Citizen Attitudes and Political Behavior

  • Pressure Groups and Political Parties

  • Part IV: The Polity: Structures and Institutions

  • Executives and Legislatures

  • Multi-level Government: National and Sub-national

  • Implementation: The Bureaucracy

  • Part V: Political Changes

  • Social Movement & Revolution

  • Democratic Transition

  • Conclusion

Requirements

  • You are required to attend

  • Lectures

  • Tutorial discussion

  • The grades in this course will be based upon

  • Mid-term examination (30%)

  • Final paper (50%).

  • Participation (20%)

Basic Concepts in Comparative Politics

Government

  • The group of people who occupy positions of power at any given time

  • Organizations of individuals

  • Authorized by formal documents

  • Make binding decisions on behalf of a particular community

  • Examples:

  • The Clinton Administration

  • The Bush Administration

  • Government change: very common!

Regime

  • The set of rules by which political power is allocated.

  • How leaders are selected?

  • Whom do they answer to?

  • What powers and duties do they have?

  • How are they removed?

  • Two main types:

  • Democracies

  • Authoritarian regimes

  • Regime change (from D to A or vice versa): Less common than government change

State

  • Domestic political authority over a population within a bounded territory and with international legal standing.

  • A geographic territory with internationally recognized boundaries,

  • An identifiable population that lives within these boundaries,

  • A recognized government that has an army, bureaucracies which is able to raise taxes, maintain public order, regulate economy, pursue public welfare.

  • All states have sovereignty:

  • The ability to act within a territory, independently from internal or external rivals.

  • Internal: supreme authority domestically

  • External: independence internationally

  • State Change: VERY RARE

What does the State do?

  • Protects its territory and the population within it,

  • Max Weber: “monopoly of legitimate violence.”

  • Provides “collective goods”, has institutions that help society function (laws, regulation, taxation, infrastructure).

  • Distinct from:

  • Government: Leadership that runs the state.

  • Regime: Rules and norms of politics.

Nation

  • Nation: Social groups within the state which have no formal political authority but which may have allegiance to the state or to non-state organizations.

  • Nations may or may not overlap with states

  • Many states are multinational states, with two or more nations within them (examples?)

  • Nationalism: Psychological or emotional attachment to the nation or the state

  • Problems arise when you get multinational or multi-ethnic states which do not have the loyalty of some of the nations or ethnic groups.

Formation of Nation-States since 1776

Politics

  • Aristotle

  • POLIC – the fundamental decision making unit.

  • Politics –the way decisions are made in the community.

  • Politics is the process by which communities pursue collective goals and deal with their conflicts authoritatively by means of government

  • Politics (as noted by Aristotle) is supremely human and social, and can only exist as one facet of society

Studies of Politics

Politics as Formal Structure:
Traditional Approach

  • The classic distinction that is made is between democracy and authoritarianism

  • Research on democracy focuses on

  • Legislature

  • Executive

  • Judiciary

  • Parties and party systems

  • Electoral systems

The Problem is…

  • Democracy can take many forms, and is in many ways a contested concept

  • Equally so, there are many different forms of authoritarian regimes

  • Moreover, even in democracies,

  • Legislatures don’t make law

  • Executives taking over legislative function

  • Judiciary: Unfashionable for political science

  • Parties becoming less structured

  • Elections: Marketing events

  • Media: About entertainment, not discussion

The Limits of the Traditional Approach

  • There are many “departments of political science”, not “departments of government”

  • What , in this context, is politics?

  • Harold Lasswell, 1936: “Politics is who gets what, when, and how”, but “why” is also of interest

  • Easton: Politics is “the authoritative allocation of values”

  • Values here in both the ideological and economic senses

Easton’s Model of Political System

Political System

  • System

  • Interdependent parts & boundaries

  • Political system

  • Set of institutions and agencies

  • Government

  • Political organizations (parties, interest groups)

  • Formulate and implement collective goals of a society or of groups within it

Components of Political System

  • Environment

  • Geography, society, economy, culture, international factors

  • Inputs

  • Types: support & demands

  • Channels: interest groups and parties

  • Decision making

  • Institutions & leaders of the state

  • Outputs

  • Public policy

  • Political changes

  • Feedback: Output—input

The Case of the United States

Structure of the Class

  • Part I: Introduction

  • Introduction to Comparative Politics

  • Video show: Manufacturing Consent, Part I

  • Classification and Comparison

  • Part II: Nation-States (Environment)

  • Nation-States: Geography, Society, Economy & Globalization

  • Political Ideologies: Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism

  • Part III: Citizens and Interest Mediation (Input)

  • Citizen Attitudes and Political Behavior

  • Pressure Groups and Political Parties

  • Part IV: The Polity: Structures and Institutions (Decision-making)

  • Executives and Legislatures

  • Multi-level Government: National and Sub-national

  • Implementation: the Bureaucracy

  • Part V: Political Changes (Output)

  • Social Movement & Revolution

  • Democratic Transition

  • Conclusion

Studies of Comparative Politics

Defining Comparative Politics

  • “The analytical study of world’s political systems”

  • The mission is to compare and contrast the institutions and processes of government (governance)

  • To identity and explain similarities

  • To identify and explain differences

  • To explain similarities and differences

Why Study Politics Comparatively?

  • Alexis de Tocqueville

  • Democracy in America

  • “Although I very rarely spoke of France in my book, I did not write one page of it without having her, so to speak, before my eyes”

  • “Without comparisons to make, the mind does not know how to proceed”

Why Study Politics Comparatively?

  • Comparison is fundamental to all human thought

  • Comparison is the methodological core of scientific study of politics

  • Compare the past and present

  • Compare experiences of various nations

  • Develop explanations (hypotheses)

  • Test theories

Why Study Politics Comparatively?

  • To avoid ethnocentrism

  • To place seemingly random or idiosyncratic events into broader perspective

  • To develop concepts, hypotheses, and theories

  • To develop good foreign policy

  • It is fun…

What do We Study in Comparative Politics?

  • Study of politics within countries

  • Emphasis on politics “as they are,” not as they “should be”

  • Implicit and explicit emphasis on comparing and contrasting politics within and between countries, regions & eras

Themes in Comparative Politics

Themes in Comparative Politics

  • Sources of public authority and political power

  • Relationships between social groups

  • Relationships between citizens and the state

  • Political institutions and frameworks

  • Political changes

Public Authority and Power

  • What are the different constitutional, ideological, and social bases of political legitimacy?

  • Great Britain

  • Iraq

  • Nigeria

  • 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?

  • India

  • Nigeria

  • Russia

  • 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?

Political Change

  • 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

  • Democracy

  • Free market

  • Efficiency

  • Individuality

  • 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

  • Conceptual framework

  • Explanation of political phenomena

  • Causal relationship

  • Test theories:

  • Large numbers (large “n”): statistical studies

  • Small numbers (small “n”): case studies

  • Prediction of political phenomena

Class website and resources:

http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/gpa/wang.htm


Directory: gpa -> wang files
wang files -> State and society in early Republican politics, 1912-18
wang files -> Review of China's Political History? All societies are in some measure the products of their past
wang files -> Political Ideologies Outline Ideology and politics
wang files -> 5. Citizen Attitude and Political Behavior Ideology vs. Political Culture Both are belief systems made up of cognitions, values, emotions
wang files -> Gpa 1070: Government and Politics in China Wang Shaoguang
wang files -> Executive-Legislative Relations Presidential and Parliamentary Systems Outline
wang files -> The State and Economy Why was Economic Reform Necessary? Economic development is impossible unless the following three problems can be solved
wang files -> To get rich is glorious: Rising expectations, declining control, and escalating crime in contemporary China
wang files -> 2 Classification and Comparison Normative Approach of Research


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