Msc Comparative Politics comparative politics

Yet, as José María Maravall shows in his contribution to our edited volume, “in parliamentary democracies losses of office by prime ministers depend in one half of the cases on decisions by politicians, not by voters” . This fact would not be so dire if prime ministers were removed from office by colleagues who anticipated bad electoral outcomes—if, as Maravall puts it, “voters and politicians … share the same criteria for punishing prime ministers.” But they do not. Whereas prime ministers are more likely to be turned out by voters when economic times are bad, they are more likely to be turned out by their colleagues when economic times are good. Hence politicians who hold their comrades to account seem to practice a reverse kind of “economic voting.” Maravall’s chapter cautions us against excessive optimism regarding democracy, accountability, and economic voting.

A given political culture is a component of the process that produces it, thus making the relation between the independent and the dependent variables in this process much more interactive. The most familiar examples of the comparative method involve comparing different forms of government in different countries, and how effective they are in particular areas of social or economic development. The hypothesis would then be evaluated and confirmed or rejected, based on whether the hard data supports the hypothesis or contradicts it. While this example is extremely simplistic, it illustrates the basic scientific process of the comparative politics method. The International Encyclopedia of Political Science provides a definitive, comprehensive picture of all aspects of political life, recognizing the theoretical and cultural pluralism of our approaches and including findings from the far corners of the world. The eight volumes cover every field of politics, from political theory and methodology to political sociology, comparative politics, public policies, and international relations.

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Some examples of comparative politics are studying the differences between presidential and parliamentary systems, democracies and dictatorships, parliamentary systems in different countries, multi-party systems such as Canada and two-party systems such as the United States. Comparative politics must be conducted at a specific point in time, usually the present. A researcher cannot compare systems from different periods of time; it must be static.

  • Central Intelligence Agency, the World Factbook offers updated country profiles providing information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues for 267 world nations.
  • This spectacular diffusion of democracy has inevitably attracted the interest of comparative politics scholars.
  • Because they tell us what is included in the field of study and what is left out.

Once a given institution has asserted itself, it tends to reproduce over time. Contrary to what occurs in the economy, however, in politics, the marginal productivity of an institution increases over time, as Paul Pierson has shown. First, it has been pointed out that an analysis that assumes institutions to be ahistorical entities ends up being overly abstract. Institutions are not aseptic rules but structures that are permeable to history. The same institutional structure may produce different effects in different historical periods.


The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. 4) Select ‘Graduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page. A postgraduate loan is available from the UK government for eligible students studying for a first master’s programme, to help with fees and living costs. The relative power, influence and methods of pressure groups in the UK and the USA. A comparison of the relationship of the UK prime minister and of the US president to other institutions of government.

A political world marked by complex interdependence calls for a political science ready to experiment with new methods and new theories. A new field of study, which some scholars call International Comparative Politics, might be developed to confront the challenges of this world. However, the structure of academic careers, still rigidly organized around the distinction between the two subdisciplines, will make such development difficult. Globalization, as noted by Philippe Schmitter, has become the independent variable in many national contexts. This, in turn, has weakened relations between the citizens and the institutions of those states, as soon as the former have become aware that the latter are unable to respond to their demands.

It is in Africa that the consolidation of democracy has continued to be an open question. Although Africa has made a big step toward democratization, democracy is far from having been consolidated. Democratic reversal has continued to be a likely possibility for most African countries. The political crises in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar in the past few years are cases in point. Democratic consolidation requires, among other things, a government turnover, and most countries in Africa are yet to undergo this crucial test.

The process of European integration was traditionally considered a unique experiment in international relations. International relations scholars were interested in explaining the process of integration rather than its outcome (i.e., the community system and its institutional characteristics). Since the Treaty of Maastricht , a new generation of studies has started to investigate the EU as a political system. However, although the EU could no longer be considered an international regime, it could not be compared with other domestic political systems.