POL 221: Introduction to Comparative Politics

POL 102: Introduction to
Comparative Politics
Instructor: Dr. Gang Guo
E-mail: gg@olemiss.edu
A Shrinking World
• Events around the world affect us all
– Globalization
– how international economic, social, cultural,
and technological forces are affecting events
inside individual countries.
• We live in a time of crisis
• The world is changing significantly and
Why we compare?
• 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
• “Without comparisons to make, the mind
does not know how to proceed”
Why we compare?
• Comparison is fundamental to all human
• Comparison is the methodological core of
scientific study of politics
– compare the past and present
– compare experiences of various nations
– develop explanation
– test theories
How we compare?
• Description 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
• public decisions
• within a community
– political system
• authoritative
– Power: ability to get people or groups to do
what they otherwise would not do
• coercive means
– force and monetary resources
Political system
• System
– interdependent parts and 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
• State
– a particular type of political system
– has sovereignty (independent legal authority)
“night watchman state”
police state
welfare state
types and strength of states
• Government
– organizations of individuals
– authorized by formal documents
– make binding decisions on behalf of a
particular community
• philosophical debates
– why government exist?
– state of nature
Government serve functions
• community-building
– nation
• large-scale communities
• common perceived identity
– political culture
• public attitudes toward politics and their role within
the political system
– political socialization
Government serve functions
• providing security, law, and order
– external security
• national defense forces
– internal security
• police forces
– government monopoly
• protecting economic, social, and political
Government serve functions
• promoting economic efficiency and growth
– market failures in capitalist economies
• property rights, competition, and information
– undersupply of public goods
• parks, roads, national defense, environment
– negative externalities
• environmental degradation
– natural monopolies
social justice
• redistribute resources
– equal opportunities