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POLI 2300X Study Guide - Final Guide: Liberal Democracy, African National Congress, Sonia Gandhi

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 2300X
Peter Arthur
Study Guide

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Monday, September 13, 2010
What is comparative politics?
Howard’s def. – the systematic study and comparison of the worlds political
Why/How is it systematic?
Systematic because you are not writing in a sense of journalistic way. Systematic
and comparative for different political systems around the world. When you
study, you have a hypothesis research analyze data conclusion (write a
Comparative Politics looks to:
Looks to explain similarities, differences, trends, etc.
Why compare?
Intellectually stimulating
Avoid ethnocentricism (judge from the perspective of your own country)
Broadens our views
Enables us to see how nations change
Helps us understand international relations/foreign policies
Aristotle – 1st comparativist. Studied city-states comparatively.
1920’s/1930’s – Comparative Politics develops
1950’s – Most scholars focusing on Western Europe (Britain, Germany, France,
etc.) Focus on legal institutions. Called “Comparative Government.” First political
scientists emerge, prior, political scientists had background in law & society
Revolution in the 1950’s:
New generation of political scientists emerging. Teaching, research. Focusing
more on the informal aspects of political science. Constitutions, legal aspects
focused on prior to 1950. Looking at developing countries, untouched on issues.
Roy Macridies’ manuscript – The Study of Comparative Government

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Since then, comp. poli is more systematic, analytical
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
What is Comparative Politics (CP)?
The systematic study and comparison of the worlds political systems.
Similarities and differences, patterns, processes and trends between
political systems throughout the world.
ABC – Anywhere But Canada
So we can find common problems, evaluations, generalizations
Why study CP?
Better understanding of what is going on in the world
Predict the future
New ideas
Avoid ethnocentricism (our values and belief systems are better than the
Intellectually stimulating
Statistical Analysis
Rational choice model: apply economic principles to political phenomena;
maximize utility
Herbert Simon – Rationality (decision making) is bounded, limited in our
ability to reason; imperfect information Assumption that politics can be
studied politically
Case Studies
Looking at a specific phenomenon – representative (ex. If you want to
study a parliamentary system of government, study Britain.
Representative of something), prototypical (How the future is going to look
like, something that would be the norm in the future.), deviant (looking at
an anomaly, going against what one might expect), crucial (Understanding
crucial points ex. Afghanistan)

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Area Studies – broad areas of study (European studies, African politics,
Thematic Studies – Take broad themes – compare/contrast
Focused Comparisons – Take two countries and compare certain aspects
Easier to understand
Starting point
oSimilarities: ex. Types of government, level of freedom,
industrialization, quality of life, economic stability, tiers (1st
Western, 2nd – Communist, 3rd – Everyone else)
Economic – GDP, per capita, purchasing power
Political – Corruption Perception Index, Government Index, Freedom
Social – Life expectancy, literacy, infant mortality rates
Marginalized States
Islamic States
Group Presentation Dates: Oct. 18 (Liberal Democracy), Oct. 29
(Communism), Nov. 15 (NICs), Nov. 26 (LDCs), Jan 14 (Political Culture), Jan
21 (Media), Feb 2 (Interest Groups), Feb 11 (Military/Police), March 4 (Political
Parties), March 18 (Political Cleavages)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Liberal Democracies and Post Communist States
Liberal democracies, post-communist states, new democracies, LDCs,
Islamic countries, marginal states
Liberal & post-communist
What’s democracy?
oSimply defined: Rule by the people
oIs it that simple though?
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