Various studies have recognized that the epistemological and methodological boundaries between the two subdisciplines of political science are no longer evident. Scholars developing the foreign policy analysis approach have included the domestic structure of a given regime in their analysis, showing how it exerts a significant influence on the decisions and styles of foreign policy of a country. Scholars investigating the relations between the economic structures and the political arrangements of various countries have shown the interactions between international pressures and domestic arrangements . Finally, leading international relations scholars have continued to work with models connecting international and domestic variables.
- While many researchers, research regimes, and research institutions are identified according to the above categories or foci, it is not uncommon to claim geographic or country specialization as the differentiating category.
- It can be actually related to specific historical circumstances that began to take place 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, when agriculture was invented and states followed suit.
- The succession not only to the state’s presidency but also to the party leadership have become political issues.
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- It has therefore introduced the African Peer Review Mechanism and the African Union’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences for improving the standards of governance in the continent.
Also, windows of opportunity for institutional change open up under conditions of institutional crisis, but the actors, nevertheless, are constrained to act within the bounds inherited from the previous arrangements. Here, there is no heroic vision of actors as in the voluntaristic vision of agency that rational choice institutionalism assumes. Simultaneously, regarding historical macro-analyses, historical institutionalism has steered clear of the pitfalls of teleology that have frequently imprisoned historical research. Institutions matter because they make collective action possible by lowering the transaction costs between the actors, by furnishing reliable information on the rules of the transaction itself, and by sanctioning free riding, thus making individual behavior predictable. Rational choice institutionalism assumes that institutions are necessary because they make possible virtuous interaction (i.e., cooperation) between the actors.
These transformations call into question the traditional distinction between comparative politics and international relations. Regarding comparative politics, the sovereignty of nation-states has been fundamentally questioned. Sovereignty has been unpacked, fragmented, and segmented, thereby challenging a long normative tradition that assumed that sovereignty is an indivisible reality. The same supposed order of the domestic polity is dramatically belied by the fact that most of the major conflicts that occurred during the 1990s have happened within states rather than between them.
In the physical sciences, researchers can perform controlled studies in laboratories where the variables of the study can be manipulated. In contrast, social science relies on observation and interpretation of the available social and governmental data; no direct manipulation of variables is possible. If globalization has challenged the assumptions of comparative politics, this is even truer in the case of the Europeanization induced by the process of European integration. According to Vivien Schmidt, it consists in the process through which the political and economic dynamics of the EU have become part of the institutional and cultural logic of domestic politics.
The Comparative Method
The cases of Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe show that the African continent has not yet resolved these issues. Succession in the party has been a concern because it has been closely linked to succession in the presidency. As a result, political scientists such as Roger Southall and Henning Melber have focused on the role of former presidents, the legacies of political power, and the importance of term limits. Africa experienced poor governance and rampant corruption in the decolonization decades of the 1970s and 1980s, in part because of the diffuse corruption of public officials and governors.
For nonrational approaches, its social utility is justified by the ability to provide conceptual frameworks within which problems of public relevance can be examined but without any pretense of becoming a positive science. The first wants to predict what will happen; the other two want to explain what has happened. Which one of the available theories to employ should be decided by the problem under investigation and not as a matter of principle. Because it is the task of political science to investigate different problems, then, as Donatella Della Porta and Michael Keating submit, the lively theoretical pluralism of the discipline should be welcomed. It is difficult to find a theory of comparative politics that does not refer, in one way or another, to institutions. Yet these theories differ significantly with respect to what is understood to be an institution, how institutions are created, why and when they are important, and how institutions change.
She notes a growing interest in the role of institutions in shaping participation in general and turnout in particular. Echoing Wren and McElwain, she draws our attention to changes in party membership, which was widespread and hence instrumental in many advanced democracies but has progressively shrunk, with consequences that are still widely debated among scholars. The constructs of trust and social capital, pioneered by Coleman and Putnam, are also relevant to our expectations about levels of participation.
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Norris also identifies causeoriented forms of activism as a distinct type of participation, activism that includes demonstrations and protests, consumer politics, professional interest groups, and more diffuse “new” social movements and transnational advocacy networks. All of these, she notes, have expanded and in a way marginalized the more institutionalized, party- and union-based mechanisms of participation that dominated in the past. Over the last fifty years, democratization theory has developed several, at times overlapping, at times contradictory, insights and models. Empirically, there seems to be a strong correlation between levels of development and democracy (Lipset 1959; Przeworski and Limongi 1997; Boix and Stokes 2003). Theoretically, the initial structural explanations gave way to game-theory models stripped of any sociological foundations—either employed in a metaphorical way, e.g. Those two theoretical approaches have recently been combined to point out why the political consequences of different constitutional institutions account for (p. 549)the social and economic underpinnings of democratic regimes (e.g. Boix 2003).
If Wren and McElwain are right, our old models of, and intuitions about, party-centered democracy should give way to a more “Americanized” notion of democracies, where personal candidacies and television campaigns determine how politicians are elected and policy made. These are some of the crucial questions that the subfield of comparative politics addresses. And they are the questions, among others, around which we organized the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics . We asked a set of top scholars in comparative politics to write critical surveys of areas of scholarship in which they are expert. First, we were committed to the possibility of generating a systematic body of theoretical knowledge about politics.