January 13, 2012: Approaches to the Study of Third World Politics
What does (most/much of) the developing world have in common?
Colonial experience which shaped institutions they have
Socio-economic challenges, including lower levels of industrialization, poorer social
conditions, and imperatives of economic growth (and redistribution)
Weaker state structures which cause less effective institutions, political instability,
problems of national integration and imperatives of state-building
Lack of (international) power and leverage, as well as subordinate integration in
Political science is analytical, and about theorizing and systematically-related
What is a theory? A simplification of reality, due to the complexity of reality.
Experimental method: is rarely used in political science (generally for social and
Statistical method: large number of data points, but there are problems with data and
relevance (it doesn’t tell us about causation, and it needs a lot of data that might not be
there or reliable for a number of reasons, for example, the opinion of people about the
government which is likely inaccurate in authoritarian countries).
Comparative method: is qualitative, compares a small number of cases, and there are
interpretive conclusions (not mathematical), it is historical, not statistical. It is less
generalizable, and creates problems because small data groups are not necessarily
reliable or an accurate reflection.