POLSCI 140 Study Guide - Winter 2019, Comprehensive Midterm Notes - Democracy, Weimar Republic, Soviet Union

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Published on 13 Feb 2019
School
U of M
Department
Political Science
Course
POLSCI 140
Professor
POLSCI 140
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INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW: WHAT IS COMPARATIVE POLITICS?
What is Comparative Politics?
The study of politics within countries.
What is politics? Lasswell argued that politics is “who gets what, when, and how.”
Thus, politics is the study of distribution of power/wealth
What is comparison?
To explain variation across units of analysis. These units can be nations, individuals,
firms, regions, etc.
Motivated by important empirical questions and puzzles.
Why did the Arab Spring occur?
Why did East Asia grow most rapidly after WWII?
Why does Latin America have very high income inequality?
These questions require empirical (factual) analysis.
How do we study comparative politics?
(Competing) Theoretical Frameworks
Hypothesis Development (aka causal agreement - x causes y )
Concepts are vague and hard to define ( ei - is a government legitimate?)
Variables are the things that we measure ( ei - does party membership = support?)
Measures (“Operationalize” variables)
Data Collection
Data Analysis and Argument
IDEAL Conclusion: A falsifiable argument, with empirical evidence, theoretical
importance, and real world relevance - aka something that can go against other arguments
+ has real world
From Empirical observations > Develop Puzzling and Important Questions:
Example: South Korea (now rich + democratic)
Korea’s superior performance is due to its Confucian culture. (”Confucian
Culture” is a concept)
It needs to be made concrete in a variable or set of variables. One possible
variable is education. Education is important to Confucianism
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Now you have to measure it. Possible measures: literacy rates, government
spending on education, test results, # of years in school, graduation rates, personal
narratives of parents whose children are in the school system
Now, you have a lot to consider
If you’re looking at this cross nationally, you must consider how other
governments collect statistics/data
If you’re looking at statistics, you’d focus on literacy rates and government
spending
If you’re looking at this culturally, you’d talk to the parents of students
Major Theoretical Approaches
Rationalist
Political outcomes determined by decisions of individuals pursuing their self -
interest.
Materialist (Structural/Marxist)
Economic organization of society produces interests, divisions, and conflict
among groups or classes.
Cultural
Values and identity determine human action.
Institutional
Structure and constraints of political institutions (the “rules of the game”) affect
behavior and outcomes; often path dependent and “sticky.” Often combined with
rationalist explanations, but emphasizes that people are constrained by
institutions.
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The Comparative Method
In any comparative case study, we look for/there must be:
Method of Difference (Most Similar Case Study)
Method of Agreement (Most Different Case Study)
Limitations
Probabilistic relationships cannot be determined by this approach; but it
can suggest relationships between variables.
Useful for broad differences between countries and long, historical
analysis.
Posits relationships between variables; does not explain causal process.
Like all science, this method cannot PROVE something to be true, only
that something has yet to be shown to be false.
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