[POLS 2240] - Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam (14 pages long!)

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KSU
POLS 2240
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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Chapter 1 Notes
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Comparative politics- study and comparison of domestic politics across countries
International relations- concentrates of relations between countries
What is Comparative Politics?
Politics- the struggle in a group for power that will give one or more person the ability to make
decisions for the whole group
struggle for leadership and power in a political community
Power- ability to influence others or oppose one’s will on them
History
Aristotle- wanted to understand different forms of politics and their strengths and weaknesses
first westerner to separate the study of politics from philosophy
Niccolo Machiavelli- analyzed different political systems and tried to make generalizations
about success and failure
cited as first modern political scientist
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke advocated particular political systems
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Baron de Montesquieu argued for separation of power and civil
liberties
Karl Marx and Max Weber analyzed political and economic organization in the context of
power
Political science became a formal field at the beginning of the 20th century
resembled political journalism and focused on thick description
Turning point was the world wars and Cold Wars
push toward more rigorous methods to studying human behavior in universities
war made understanding politics absolutely necessary
wave of technological innovation
Methods
Comparative method- comparing countries to seek conclusions that can be generalized to
other cases
uses inductive reasoning- go from studying a case to generating a hypothesis
can also use deductive reasoning- generating a hypothesis about cause and effect that can
be tested against a number of cases
can find a correlation- apparent association between certain variables
may find a causal relationship- cause and effect
Potential problems:
difficulty controlling variables
interactions between variables can affect results
multicausality- variables are tied together to produce particular outcomes
there are limits to information and information gathering (ie too few cases)
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limited access to cases (ie work in field requires rime and money, researches may not
speak the native language, interviewees may be hesitant to give information,
governments may restrict research, and archives might be restricted or incomplete)
focus can be restricted to a specific region ( called area studies)
disproportionate focus on Western Europe
selection bias
endogeneity- difficulty distinguishing between cause and effect
Qualitative method- uses interviews, observations and archival research
use inductive reasoning
Problems:
narrowly focused
variables are not rigorously defined
hypotheses are not tested using a large number of cases
Quantitative method- favor using a wider number of cases unbound by area specialization,
statistical analysis and mathematical models
use deductive reasoning
criticisms include whether variables are of any values or are just easy to express
numerically
Theories
theory- integrated set of hypotheses, assumptions, and facts
Modernization theory- conservative discipline with capitalism and democracy as the ideal
set of hypothesis about how countries develop
Behavioralism- focus on political behavior that used data to generate theories and
generalizations that would predict political activity
set of methods about how approach politics
promoted deductive, large scale research
criticisms include emphasizing methodology over knowledge, ideological bias and serving
the foreign policy interests of the US
Game theory/ rational choice theory
study the rules by which politics is played and how human beings act on their preferences
associated with quantitative methods
critics say rational choice theory say is discounts things like historical complexity,
unintended outcomes and cultural factors and that they use culturally American
assumptions
Institutions
institutions- organizations that are self-perpetuating and valued for their own sakes
command authority and can influence behavior
we accept and conform to institutions
formal institutions are based on official rules that are clearly laid out
informal institutional are unwritten and unofficial rules
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