SEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE POLITICS
POLITICAL SCIENCE 8200
Fall Semester 1998
707 General Classroom Building
Dr. William M. Downs
Department of Political Science
Georgia State University
This graduate seminar is designed to give participants a professional introduction to the issues,
theories, and methodological approaches associated with the systematic and comparative study of
nation-states and their political systems. Now in its fourth "boom" decade as a major field of
political science, comparative politics encompasses a wide range of topics--including
state-building, development, mass political behavior, public policy, party systems, interest
representation and political participation, institutional design and political economy. We will
take time to recognize the academic sociology of comparative politics, think seriously about the
logic of comparative analysis, and critique some of the classics in the field as well as some more
The seminar's primary goal is to focus on the major substantive, theoretical, and empirical
research questions concerning comparative politics. The course is not an "introduction to politics
in [insert country x here]." Nor is it slanted excessively to the professor's particular region of
interest and expertise (e.g., Europe). We look at the important questions and apply them
geographically where they prove most relevant. That said, the literature to be read and discussed
should only be considered a sampling of a richly diverse field. The seminar meetings themselves
will aim at constructive criticism and analysis of these works. More broadly, students will be
encouraged to relate these discussions and questioning to their own research and professional
TEXTS AND COURSE MATERIALS
The following texts are available for purchase at the University Bookstore and the Park Place Bookstore:
Ronald H. Chilcote. 1994. Theories of Comparative Politics: The Search for a Paradigm Reconsidered, 2nd edition. Boulder: Westview Press.
Mattei Dogan and Dominique Pelassy. 1990. How to Compare Nations: Strategies in Comparative Politics, 2nd edition. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.
Sven Steinmo, Kathleen Thelen and Frank Longstreth, eds. 1992. Structuring Politics: Historical
Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.
George Tsebelis. 1990. Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Paul R. Abramson and Ronald Inglehart. 1995. Value Change in Global Perspective. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
William M. Downs. 1998. Coalition Government, Subnational Style: Multiparty Politics in Europe's Regional Parliaments. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
John D. Lindau and Timothy Cheek. 1998. Market Economics and Political Change:
Comparing China and Mexico. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Note on Texts: Most of these books will be placed on reserve at Library South for your use if
you choose not to purchase them.
Notes on Articles and Chapters: Additional readings will come from select journal articles and
book chapters, which will be made accessible to you. Unless otherwise indicated, all required
journal articles and book chapters will be on reserve at Library South. Moreover, we may decide
to distribute a copy of the following week's reading at each seminar session--allowing those who
so wish to then arrive at their own system for copying and circulation. Those for whom neither of
the above systems works may be able to check materials out for 2 hour periods from the file
holder on my office door.
Please note below that I provide you with a set of required readings as well as a suggested list of
supplementary readings. You will not be held formally responsible for the supplementary
readings; however, if you find a theme particularly engaging or perhaps particularly difficult to
grasp, you may want to pursue the supplementary readings to gain a fuller understanding of the
material. In most cases, I have given you the Pullen Library call numbers of books listed as
Please note also for your reference that new work in comparative politics appears regularly in the
American Political Science Review and, to a lesser extent in the American Journal of Political
Science and the official journals of the other regional political science associations. Of the
journals specializing in comparative politics, Comparative Political Studies, now published
bi-monthly and containing book reviews, is the most important. Among journals published
outside the United States, the British Journal of Political Science publishes work that is most
comparable to that which appears in U.S. journals. Electoral Studies publishes interesting
research on electoral systems and useful factual reports on recent elections.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING SYSTEM
"Review" Papers: Students will write two discussion papers (each approximately 1250 words in
length) during the course of the semester. Likewise, students will serve twice as a "discussant"
for a paper presented by a fellow seminar participant. The review essays will raise a single or a
series of theoretical or methodological questions or criticisms on the work being discussed for
that particular week. Assignments will be staggered so that several essays will be prepared each
week. Each essay is due by 5:00 Monday, the day before each seminar session. Copies are to be
given at that time to me and to the student designated as discussant. Copies for distribution to all
remaining seminar members must then also be sent via e-mail. At the seminar session itself, all
essay writers will be allocated 15 minutes to present their argument. Each discussant will then
have 5-10 minutes to critique and counter this argument, generally supporting the original
author's point of view. This structured "point-counterpoint" format is intended to then instigate a
more free flowing class-wide discussion.
Participation. This a graduate seminar. Members are thus expected to attend all class sessions
and to participate actively at each. Seminar participants must complete the assigned readings on
time and contribute thoughtfully to class discussions.
Research Design: An original research design for a comparative study is required and due at the
end of the semester (December 8). You will select a research question, justify it on substantive
and theoretical grounds, place it within the comparative literature, and detail a methodological
blueprint for answering the question in at least two countries. You can, additionally, analyze
some preliminary data. We will discuss the specifics of this project early in the semester, but the
rationale is one part "demonstrate you know the literature" and one part "use this as the initial
basis for a future seminar paper, conference paper proposal, Masters thesis, or dissertation
project." (Ph.D. students will be required to submit one-page proposal for a comparative politics
panel at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association to be held in
Atlanta--deadline for proposal submission is November 16. MA students are also encouraged to
Exam: The final exam for this course is scheduled for December 15 (8:30-10:30 p.m.). This
exam will give you the chance to demonstrate your ability to synthesize the various and often
competing theoretical approaches to comparative political analysis.
Grade: The final seminar grade will be determined on the basis of the following weights:
Essay 1 10%
Essay 2 15%
Discussion and Participation 15%
Research Design 30%
FYI: You should periodically check my web page http://www.gsu.edu/~polwmd/page.html for
assignment updates, useful resources, and class materials.
Week 1 (August 25) Introduction to the Comparative Analysis of Political Systems
Introductory comments and discussion of seminar format.
Week 2 (September 1) Logic and Methods of Comparison
Chilcote, Chapters 1-4
Dogan and Pelassy, Part 1
Frendreis, John P. 1983. "Explanation of Variation and Detection of Covariation: The Purpose and Logic of Comparative Analysis." Comparative Political Studies 16:2, 255-272.
Lijphart, Arend. 1971. "Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method." American Political Science Review, 682-693.
Sartori, Giovanni. 1970. "Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics." American Political
Science Review 54, 1033-1053.
DeFelice, E. Gene. 1986. "Causal Inference and Comparative Methods." Comparative Political Studies 19:3, 415-437.
Przeworski, Adam and Harry Teune. 1970. The Logic of Comparative Social Inquiry (New York:
John Wiley & Sons), Chapters 1-4. [H62 .P79]
Week 3 (September 8) Theories of System and State; Approaches to State-Society Relations
Chilcote, Chapter 5
Kohli, Atul. 1995. "The Role of Theory in Comparative Politics." World Politics 48, 1-49.
Almond et al. 1988. Symposium on "The Return to the State." American Political Science Review 82:3, 853-900.
Stepan, Alfred. 1978. "Liberal-Pluralist, Classic Marxist, and 'Organic-Statist' Approaches to the
State," in The State and Society.
Migdal, Joel S. 1988. Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princton: Princeton University Press), Chapter 1. [JF60 .M54 1988]
King, Desmond. 1989. "Political Centralization and State Interests in Britain," Comparative
Political Studies 21:4, 467-494.
Week 4 (September 15) Paths to Development: Revolution and Evolution
Chilcote, Chapter 7
Samuel Huntington. 1968. Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press (Chapters 1, 4-6)
Skocpol, Theda. 1979. States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China. New York: Cambridge University Press (Chapters 1-2)
Barrington Moore, Jr. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Boston: Beacon
(Chapters 2, 5-9 passim)
Week 5 (September 22) Approaches to Underdevelopment
Huntington, Samuel P. 1971. "The Change to Change: Modernization, Development, and Politics." Comparative Politics, 283-322.
Cardoso and Faletto. 1979. Dependency and Development in Latin America (Chapters 1-2).
Gerschenkron, Alexander. 1965. Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (Chapter 1)
O'Donnell, Guillermo. 1988. "Theoretical and Historical Background to the Study of the
Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State," in Bureaucratic Authoritarianism (Berkeley : University of
California Press). [JL2031 .O3513 1986]
Week 6 (September 29) Comparing Democratic Polities
Lijphart, Arend. 1968. "Typologies of Democratic Systems." Comparative Political Studies, 3-44.
Ware, Alan. 1996. Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Chapters 5-8
Anderson, Christopher J. and Christine A. Guillory. 1997. "Political Institutions and Satisfaction with Democracy: A Cross-National Analysis of Consensus and Majoritarian Systems." American Political Science Review 91:1, 66-81.
Dogan and Pelassy, Parts 2, 4
Chilcote, Chapter 8
Lipset, Seymore Martin and Stein Rokkan. 1967. Party Systems and Voter Alignments. New York: Free Press (Chapter 1). [JF2051 .L47]
Sartori, Giovanni. 1976. Political Parties and Party Systems. New York: Cambridge University
Press (Chapters 6-9) [JF2051 .S26].
Week 7 (October 6) Participation
Lester W. Milbrath. 1965. Political Participation. Chapters 1, 4, 6
Russell J. Dalton. 1996. Citizen Politics, 2nd edition. Chapters 2-3, 12
Arend Lijphart. "Unequal Participation: Democracy's Unresolved Dilemma." American Political Science Review 91:1 (March 1997): 1-14.
M. Kent Jennings. "Political Participation in the Chinese Countryside." American
Political Science Review 91:2 (June 1997): 361-372.
Week 8 (October 13) Comparative Political Economy
Chilcote, Chapter 9
"Politics of Growth" Controversy
Lange, Peter and Geoffrey Garrett. 1985. "The Politics of Growth." Journal of Politics 47, 792-827.
Lange, Peter and Geoffrey Garrett. 1987. "The Politics of Growth Reconsidered." Journal of Politics 49, 257-274.
Jackman, Robert. 1987. "The Politics of Economic Growth in Industrial Democracies, 1974-1980: Leftist Strength or North Sea Oil?" Journal of Politics 49, 242-256.
Hicks, Alexander. 1988. "Social Democratic Corporatism and Economic Growth." Journal of
Politics 50, 677-704.
Alt, James and K. Alec Chrystal. 1983. Political Economics. Berkeley: University of California Press. [HB73 .A42 1983]
Masters, Marick F. and John D. Robertson. 1988. "Class Compromises in Industrial
Democracies." American Political Science Review 82.
Week 9 (October 20) Historical Institutionalism and Comparative Public Policy
Sven Steinmo, Kathleen Thelen and Frank Longstreth, eds. 1992. Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dogan and Pelassy, Part 3
Week 10 (October 27) Dissecting the Leviathan: Bureaucracy & Comparative Public Administration
Max Weber, "Bureaucracy," in Economy and Society, Volume I
B. Guy Peters, "Government Reorganization: A Theoretical Analysis," International Political Science Review 13:2 (1992): 199-217.
Joseph La Palombara, Bureaucracy and Political Development. Chapters 1-2
Robert Putnam. 1976. Comparative Study of Political Elites. Chapters 1, 3-5
Hardy Wickwar. Power and Service: A Cross-National Analysis of Public Administration. New
York: Greenwood, 1991.
Week 11 (November 3) Rational Choice in Comparative Politics
Tsebelis, George. 1990. Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Susan J. Carroll, Linda M.G. Zerilli. 1993. "Formal rational choice theory : a cumulative science of politics," in Ada W. Finifter, ed., Political science : the state of the discipline II. Washington, D.C. : American Political Science Association.
Chilcote, pp. 186-95
Week 12 (November 10) Looking Inside the Nation-State: Comparing Subnational Units
Putnam, Robert D. et al. 1983. "Explaining Institutional Success: The Case of Italian Regional Government." American Political Science Review 77, 55-74.
William M. Downs. 1998. Coalition Government, Subnational Style: Multiparty Politics in
Europe's Regional Parliaments. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
Robert D. Putnam with Robert Leonardi and Raffaella Y. Nanetti. 1993. Making Democracy
Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Week 13 (November 17) Comparative Contextual Analysis: Markets and Democratization
Juan D. Lindau and Timothy Cheek. 1998. Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Geddes, Barbara. "How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answer You Get: Selection
Bias in Comparative Politics." Political Analysis v. 2 (1990): 131-150.
Week 14 (November 24) "The Root is Man"--Value Change on Five Continents
Paul R. Abramson and Ronald Inglehart. 1995. Value Change in Global Perspective. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Dogan and Pelassy, Part 4
Inglehart, Ronald. 1988. "The Renaissance of Political Culture." American Political Science Review 82.
Chilcote, Chapter 6
Note: Students are responsible for the information contained in the Academic Honesty policy found in the University Bulletin.