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PSC 1001 Introduction to Comparative Politics One week of Notes and Readings

by: Caroline Jok

PSC 1001 Introduction to Comparative Politics One week of Notes and Readings PSC 1001

Marketplace > George Washington University > Political Science > PSC 1001 > PSC 1001 Introduction to Comparative Politics One week of Notes and Readings
Caroline Jok
GPA 3.8

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PSC 1001 Political Science Dr. Jessica Oetken Rome 206 Introduction to Comparative Politics The George Washington University In-Class Notes, & Notes on Assigned Readings Reading Notes ~ The...
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Jennifer L. Oetken
Class Notes
George Washington University, gwu, international affairs, political science, notes, IAFF, IR, international relations, Comparison, american politics, abstract, Comparative Politics
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Caroline Jok on Monday January 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSC 1001 at George Washington University taught by Jennifer L. Oetken in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 121 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Comparative Politics in Political Science at George Washington University.

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Date Created: 01/04/16
WEEK 2 Introduction to Comparative Politics Professor JessiPSC 1002 Caroline E. Jok The George Washington University Class 3 ~ Notes Review: What are some of the diffi culties that Comparative Politics faces as a scientific field of study? • Endogeneity • Selection Bias • Can't control • Causality • Population of Cases too small Do you think qualitative or quantitative is a better research approach for overcoming these difficulies? • My opinion: qualitative if I had to choose. • Triangulation: using different research method to look at the causality of factors The Comparative method is… • The structured/systematic comparison/contrasting of cases to test causal inferences • A way of analyzing data • Research Designs o Most similar systems designs (MSS) • Have a lot of things in common, but is the explanatory variable something that varies? • Distinct outcomes • Causal variables may be valid if they co -vary with the outcome • Ex: why do some countries have ethnic conflicts? § Malaysia vs. Sri Lanka • Both former British colonies, multi -ethnic, economically dominant minorities… • Malaysia: one-party system • Sri-Lanka: Multi-Party System § Does this provide support to Party System influence on Ethnic Conflict? • The Evidence is presented, the researcher makes the case o Most Different Systems Design (MSD) • Two very different cases but a similar outcome - test for why • Same outcomes, but differ Causal inferences may be valid if causal variables are the sam e for all cases • • Ex: What explains the successful functioning of Democratic Institutions? § India vs. U.S. • Both: Democracy • Parliamentary Government (I: Y; US: N) • Ethno Linguistic Homogeneity (I: High; US: Low) • Economic & Human Development (I: Low; US: High) § What is the similar thing between the two that explains the similar political regimes? • Ideas: British influence • Strong Sense of National Identity forged during Independence Movement o In our paper we will be comparing 2 country cases o This can be done with m ultiple countries - which may help lend support for a hypothesis Discussion Question: • Given the two countries you pick, would you use a MSS or MDS research design? • Why? • What explains Regime type across countries? • Germany & Iran --> Using the MSS Design o Iran: Theocratic Islamic Republic (appointed) o Germany: Parliamentary Democracy • Both have presidents with little to no power • Both have legislature • Both have similar population sizes • Both homogeneity in population • Both Large Energy consumers • Difference: Religion plays a role in government Reading Notes ~ The Comparative Approach Concepts • Concepts: abstract ideas we attempt to define as we ask and answer our questions. o Freedom, democracy, justice etc. • Concepts can sometimes be put into categories Features of Good Concepts • Good Concepts: o Clarity & coherent o Logical Consistency o Usefulness • Specific enough that they allow you to draw distinctions in analyzing examples • Allow one to measure variables Conceptualization • Conceptualization: deliberate process through which we create and select social -science • Look at how scholars have already conceptualized major ideas • Political identities can be divided into subtypes. • Sartori's ladder of abstraction: idea that we can organize concepts on the basis of their specificity or generality Operationalizing: From Concepts to Measures • Operationalization: The process through which we take our basic concepts and render them measurable. • Helps to explain cause -and-effect Empirical Evidence • Empirical: observations we can make from looking at the "real world" rather than using abstract theories/speculation Facts and Evidence • Evidence: information that has implications for a theory or hypothesis • Research should be replicable by someone else seeking to research the same claim • Successful comparativists are known for the ways they empirically support thei r claims Strong evidence • o Related to the issue at hand o Same level of analysis: • The level at which observations are made or at which causal processes operate Cases and Case Studies • Cases: Basic unit of analysis in comparative politics or example of a phenom enon to be studied • Cases can be a country, a geographical unit, political groups, organizations, specific institutions, historical episodes • Key: delineating one's case as a unit that can be usefully understood as a cluster of events or attributes. The Comparative Method Variables and Comparison • Variables: element or factor that is liable to change or vary from case to case • The effect (outcome) is the level of democracy, which is high in one case and low in the other • Dependent variable: the effect/o utcome that we expect to be acted on (or have its value altered) by the independent variable • Independent variable: one we expect to "act on" or change the value of the dependent variable • Variation: difference between cases in any given study of comparative politics • Cause : effect • Independent variable : dependent variable • Explanatory variable : outcome • X variable : Y variable Most-Similar-Systems Design • Most-Similar-Systems design: research design in which one compares cases that re similar with respect to a number of factors but with distinct outcomes. • If two cases have variations in outcomes, look for the variations that can explain why the countries are dissimilar • We use comparison by realizing that we use it subconsciously Most Different Systems Design • Most different Systems Design: research design in which we compare cases that differ with respect to multiple factors but in which the outcome is the same. • Two cases that are different in nearly all aspects but one (or a few) Comparative Checking • One pair of cases does not prove a hypothesis to be true everywhere • Comparative checking: process of testing the conclusions from a set of comparisons against additional cases or evidence • Generalizability: quality that a given theory, hypothesis, or finding has of being applicable to a wide number of cases. Within-Case Comparison • The comparative analysis of variation that takes place over time or in distinct parts of a single place • Ex: comparing periods within a c ountry Reading Notes ~ Theories and Hypotheses and Evidence Introduction to Theories, Hypotheses, and Evidence • Why things happen Theories • Theory: general set of explanatory claims about some specifiable empirical range • Normative theory o Values and moral believes • empirical (positive) theory o About factors and variables that cause things to happen Hypotheses • Hypotheses: specific proposed explanation for why an outcome occurs. • Possible answers to a question which we plan to test out by applying them to data, looking at specific cases to see if there is evidenc e to support the idea • If hypothesis receives enough support form evidence, it may become a thesis • Deductive hypothesis: start with general ideas and then testing whether they work on specific examples • Deviant cases: do not fit the pattern predicted by a g iven theory • Hypothesis are often formulated with some initial knowledge about the topic at hand • Inductive reasoning: process of moving from specific observations to general claims • Goal: learn something from the study we undertake • Hypotheses and theories inform one another • Theories help guide us in formulating hypotheses • Confirming hypotheses may provide support for theories that may serve to undermine theories • Hypotheses are more tentative and speculative than theories • Evidence is usually insufficient to reject or confirm a theory by itself • Thesis: a statement for which one argues on the basis of evidence o Argument supported by the research and evidence that comes from testing a hypothesis How Theories Emerge and Are Used • As part of work - note that other prominent arguments are consistent/inconsistent with evidence Single study isn't enough • • Counter-arguments will emerge Narrow in on good explanations by finding increasing evidence that certain hypothesis are • consistent with the evidence • Theories have facts and evidence supporting them, but these are not proof that a theory is valid and correct in all circumstances • Theories explain tendencies, almost always exceptions to the rules • Theories compete with one another as the best explanations of social phenomena Types of Evidence: • Qualitative: a form of analysis that aims to discern relationships between events or phenomena as described in narrative form, such as an account of a historical process. • Quantitative: aims for the mathematical discernment of relation ships between variables, typically involving a large number of cases or observations • Inference: aim to test observable implications of any given theory Hypothesis Testing • Cause and effect between two or more variables • Based on examining different variables and how those variables relate to one another Correlation • Correlation: measures the association between two variables o Positive: increase together o Negative: one increases, the other decreases Causation • One variable causes another • Falsifiability: testability of a theory or hypothesis. Good hypothesis could be logically demonstrated to be false by evidence. • Problems: o Confusing cause and effect between two variables that are the same by definition (x=y) o Reverse causality: two variables are correlate d by the causal argument linking the two may be the opposite of what one anticipates o Endogeneity problem: circularity. Which causes which? Which comes first? o Intervening variable problem: X leads to y but indirectly, the effect of x on y is mediated through another variable z. o Omitted variable problem: miss a "lurking" variable o Spurious correlation problem: no meaningful casual relationship exists/no plausible relationship between them Critiques: Using Theories and Evidence • Evidence can support and argume nt or counter an argument Empirical Critiques: confirming cases and deviant cases • Empirical critique: effort to point to important evidence that does not support a conventional version of any given theory Theoretical Critiques: improving theories and hypotheses • Theoretical critique: effort to show that a given theory has logical imitations o New ideas that improve upon the logic/reasoning of existing theories o Constantly interacts with empirical evidence • Can be received by other scholars looking to offer different theoretical perspective • Scope conditions: conditions or range of cases for which an argument works. • Critiques help us craft better arguments and theories: o Improve understanding of scope conditions o Critiques based on empirical evidence can help i mprove our concepts and lead to clearer understanding of what we are studying. • By identifying weaknesses in arguments and offering alternative explanations, critiques give us better understandings of why things happen.


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