Comparative Politics is an introductory course that explains much of international politics in terms of interactions, similarities and differences amongst governments, as well as learning a solid chunk of history. For this class, you’re going to have a lot of reading, but with even the slightest interest in politics, you should have no problem keeping up as the debates can get heated!
Covered in the course, and a theme used throughout is globalization. This is a concept that is often referred to, but hardly denied. In POL161, there is an in-depth analysis of the effects of globalization on an economic, social, and environmental scale. All states (countries) are connected regardless of what we may think. North Korea, Russia, South Africa, France; All of these countries effect U.S. decision-making as the world becomes ever more connected.
2. Democratic vs. Nondemocratic Regimes
We hear about the big bad Russian government and the actions that Putin has taken over the last 10-15 years, but how did we get here. In this class, an entire third of the semester is dedicated to understanding democratic vs. nondemocratic regimes, and the legitimacy thereof. Russia is a democratic state, but are they a legitimate one? Do they check the necessary boxes to qualify? Simply calling oneself democratic does not make it so, and this is the largest example, but many smaller countries are related to as well.
There is a lasting effect from imperialism and colonialism that remains in many countries today. That is the way the world worked up until the 20th century, but connections to and ownership of islands and past colonies directly affect the cultures that have arisen as well as the governments that now exist. Africa is closely examined in this topic as they are continuously exploited due to their history of late development and imperialism of western states and China.
4. Suppression China
The ongoing suppression that exists in many countries is seen across multiple sections in this course, with China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia being the main examples. We live in a day and age where in the U.S. we thankfully do not have to think (too much) of our views being held down, and speaking out against the government. This is not the case in other countries as those who disagree are often sentenced to jail time, or even death.
With poverty and illegitimate democratic states comes corruption. Mostly seen in Africa in terms of leadership, African governments have seen extreme economic success, often while their people have not. The corruption originates with individuals from the U.S. and China specifically offering immense amounts of money for contracts. Then being overpaid, and the money is split two ways. Again, we live in a world where we don’t believe it happens so often, but it always is. Think of the offshore bank accounts politicians in the U.S. had that came out last year…. This does exist today, and it is all around us.
Comparative Politics is an extremely intriguing course with a lot of discussion and is mainly essay based. The information learned in this course allows for a genuine understanding of the world, and a better understanding of how we have a long way to go for international prosperity. With an open mind, and a bit of dedication you’ll find yourself in one of the more informative and interesting classes in Elon’s political science department.