(1) New institutionalism:
− Refocusing on states and its institutions
(2) Grounded theory:
− Back from universal or global to middle-range theories
(3) Case-oriented analysis:
− Methodological change back to small "N"
(4) Rational choice theory (Game Theory):
− Actors are modelled as rational and self-interested.
Purpose of Comparative Politics :
• Describe similarities and differences, build classifications and typologies
• Explain similarities and differences by formulating and testing hypotheses
• Predict political events
Approaches to Comparative Politics :
(1) Study of single countries:
• Description of political systems, institutions and processes of a specific
(2) Methodological tradition:
• Establishing rules and standards for comparative analysis
(3) Analytical tradition: Empirical substance and method:
• Testing of hypotheses in order to find generalizations
Australian Federal system Canada Federal system
Us Federal system
THEORIES AND METHODS
• The evolution of comparative politics has been described by a sequence of
paradigms (e.g. traditional, behavioural, post behavioural).
• But the term “paradigm” is not accurate in the field of comparative politics, since
no single theory was predominating completely.
• Therefore, it is more adequate to speak of a pre-modern, modern and post-
modern evolutionary stage of comparative politics.
Modernizing Pol Sci:
• In the 19th century, pre-modern approaches “modernized” by drawing from
historical theories of evolution (Darwinism, Marxism).
• According to John Stuart Mill the social sciences implied two methods: • Method of agreement: it consists in comparing very different cases, all
of which however have in common the same dependent variable, so that
any other circumstance which is present in all the cases can be regarded
as the independent variable.
• Method of difference: it consists in comparing very similar cases which
only differ in the dependent variable, on the assumption that this would
make it easier to find those independent variables which explain the
presence/absence of the dependent variable.
• Political science is the youngest social science
Rigorous criteria for scientific comparison were formulated:
1. History is not identical with evolution
2. Theory and practice are divided
3. Subsystems are autonomous
4. Science is guided by theory
• From sociology, political science inherited two traditions: (Max Weber, Emile
• The behavioural revolution modernized comparative political science, yet
discipline failed to predict any major political events
• In the 1970s, comparative politics moved from typologies and classifications of
polities to the analysis of politics and policies (actors and institutions).
Approaches to comparative politics:
• Positivist: Facts are real and observable
• Constructivist: Facts are socially constructed
Institutions – structure matters
• Structures matter à institutions shape and constrain the behaviour of individuals.
• Institutional analysis is the root of CP (Parties, Constitutions, etc..)
• “New institutionalism" , three conceptions:
• Weak in explaining change.
Interests: rational choice
• Individuals are self-interested utility maximizers
• Engage in political action to receive benefits and avoid costs
• Institutions remain important
• The concept of interest was broadened from material to social interests
Ideas: ideas matter
• Measuring is difficult
• Conceptualizations of ideas
• Ideas are also important in the form of ideologies.
Individuals: political background
• Psychological studies and elite theories (individuals and power) • Sociological approaches stress social backgrounds and recruitment.
• Examples of individual approach:
Voting behaviour across countries
• Much of the discussion of CP is based on the analysis of individual countries. But
in a globalized world, isolated analysis is increasingly difficult. à Serious
analytical problem for comparative analysis
• Example: Literature on Europeanization which analyses the convergence and
homogenization of political systems of member states.
• The international environment is important among all levels of government. This
is taken up by the research on "multi level-governance". -----EU
The sixth I: Interaction
• The quality of CP research could be enhanced by taking this into account more
• In order to explain complex phenomena, the use of multiple theories and
multiple methodologies is necessary.
• An example is the literature on social movements:
Sometimes they are conceptualized as institutions
Sometimes they are looked upon as public manifestations of "ideas"
Sometimes they reflect underlying social and economic interests
THE NATION STATE
• Standards and consistency
• Conclusions drawn from comparisons
• Relationship between variables (Causality)
• Internal vs. external validity
• Convergent vs. Divergent explanations
• Theory, method, hypothesis, thesis
• Case studies
• Ex: Dependent Variable (Y) -> McDonald’s Big Mac… (Dependent Variable: the
main thing we are researching)
Independent variables (X)
Independent variables: all the things that could be influencing the outcome (dependent
Ex: Logistics, Rent, Currency, Demand, Production, and Advertising
Case selection: intensive or extensive
• Case study: One case at one time – the country, one study
• Time series: One case over time – looking at over time
• Closed universe: Relevant cases in relevant periods – look for a specific part of a
• Cross section: All cases at one time- compare with other contries (Iceland)
• Pooled analysis: Maximizing cases across time – look at all 7 contries mcdonalds pulled out of
• Comparing: Experimental (outcomes/ results; McDs leaves), Error (missing data;
uncompetitive) and Extraneous (unknown cause; ex: local contests) Variances
Critique of Comparative Methods:
(1) Too many theories, variables and too few cases – constant change
(2) Conceptual stretching – no evidence, making a statement.
(3) Family Resemblance
(4) Radial categories – forcing an issue to become evidence, a case.
(5) Equivalence (worth comparing)
(6) Interpretation bias – opinion, overly using your interpretation.
Ex: Do Bolivians hate US fast food?
The state as a dependant variable:
• Nation-state remains major player of international politics – primary relation!!
Nation-state club: legitimate power over a territory
• Non-state actors often are restricted to state authority – individuals bound by the
state. (driving a car – high commissioner Australia). Steven Harper
• Modern state arguably emerges following Peace of Westphalia th
• Separation of Church/State – limiting church’s power, Europe 19 century, and
erupting the power of the nation. People used to die for the church, now they die
for their nation.
• State must create a ‘national’ brand to survive, hence nationalism, but how? –
Artificial borders to show territory
• Consolidation: rise of cities and expanding military
• Rationalization: bureaucracy, law, governance, function, taxation
• Expansion: Ideology, markets, modernization, colonialism
*Canada ideology = liberal democracy
Ex: Magna Carta, 1215
- Paradigm shift, when nobles died, king takes land
- King cannot take property of nobles…
Formation of states: rise of cities
• Towns and commercialization of agriculture
• Militarization of the rural household (elites)
• Protection, procurement, empowerment
• Rule of Law (Private vs. public justice)
• Importance of taxation (Financing Wars)
• Development of parliamentary procedures
• International system of trade
• Stages: Feudalist, Mercantilist, Capitalist
Nationalism and colonialism:
• Increased since 19 Century
• Source of state legitimacy
• Tied to capitalist accumulation (Lenin’s ‘Finance Capital’)
• Modern nationalism tied to de-colonization
Nationalism in the colonies: • Resistance and adaption (Education/Religion) – train labour, educate the
• Empowered some elements of colonial society
• Colonial oppression unified resistance movements
Demand for independence:
1. Colonialism was not a productive economic model as it distorted trade –
2. Manufacturing/engineering in the colonies never developed sufficiently
3. Colonial powers struggled to tax the colonies, making their management very
4. What does this tell us? Birth of modern state -à
Birth of modern state:
• Monopoly of legitimate violence (Weber)
• Sovereignty and Plurality
• The state as ‘Nation’--