Comparative Politics Today Notes Chapter 2:
Why we compare:
• It improves your mind about politics around the world, improving our understanding of
our own. You’ll be able to distinguish between valid and invalid claims. This is about
politics around the world, and studying politics of other countries and drawing
comparisons between theirs and ours, which is important for our own politics. We will
draw up concept theories and develop tools. Tocqueville: “Without comparisons to make,
the mind does not know how to proceed.” In essence, we compare so that we can see the
differences in events and consequences between our society and others, so that we know
how to develop our own society, and know how to advance as a collective.
How do we compare politics?
DESCRIBE (the easiest part)
o (Narrative; “Who, What When, Where, and How”)
o (“Why” Statements)
PREDICT (the hardest part) political behavior
o (“If, Then” Statements)
• In order to derive hypotheses (questions and expectations) and build theories
(corroborated bodies of systematic knowledge) that are useful for society’s development.
Conceptual framework: a set of concepts (used to describe politics)
• Intersubjective: understood and used in the same way by different subjects
• General: general concepts for politics
How to explain and predict: • We use both Theories, Hypotheses and Variables to do so:
o Theories: precisely formulated and well-supported statements about causal
relationships among general classes of political events. Political scientists often
develop theories as they seek to understand a puzzling case or an interesting
difference between political systems.
o Hypotheses: causal explanations that have not yet been proven. But for
explanatory hypotheses to become useful theories, we generally want it to explain
not only that specific case, but also other cases that fall into the same set.
o Variables: the features on which a case differs from another, liable to change.
System: is an object with interdependent parts, acting within a setting or an environment.
Political System: a set of institutions and agencies concerned with formulating and
implementing the collective goals of a society or of groups within it.
Governments: are the policymaking parts of political systems.
- A political system exists in both a domestic and international environment.
Inputs: the opinions both foreign and domestic that are received in the political system.
Outputs: outputs are the policymakers’ attempts to shape inputs.
Globalization: the increase in the interdependences of countries around the world. Globalization
of the economy leads to more demands for workers, for protection of rights and of their jobs, and
for more laws restricting people from damaging the environment.
Political Culture: the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the people in a country; often associated
with the changes in the economy and the citizenry in America.
Interdependence: dependent on each other, and the advantage of the system-environment
approach is that it directs our attention to how interdependent these countries are. - We need to recognize how these environments both set limits on and provide opportunities for
political choices, which will al