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Week 1 Notes

by: Savannah Notetaker

Week 1 Notes PS 260

Savannah Notetaker
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About this Document

These notes cover the introduction to the course and the first chapter.
Intro to Comparative Politics
Dr. Kiasatpour
Class Notes
Comparative Politics, research methods, political science




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Savannah Notetaker on Wednesday September 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PS 260 at Western Kentucky University taught by Dr. Kiasatpour in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views.


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Date Created: 09/14/16
Ch. 1 Introduction to Comparative Politics “What the United States does best is understand itself. What it does worst is understand others.” – Mexican author Carlos Fuentes What is Comparative Politics?  It is both a field of study and method of study  Comparative politics is a field within political science o American politics o Judicial politics o Int’l politics  Have previously defined it as: o “Comparative politics is what political scientists study when they study any other country besides America [American politics] The study of America is American politics”  Good definition for Comparative Politics o “Comparative politics involves the systemic study and comparison of the world’s political systems.”  As a subject of study, CP looks at: o Why do some states have a higher level of political violence than others? o Why do some states fail? Why do some succeed? o Why do some do better when they integrate into the world economy? Scientific Research and Scientific Knowledge  Causality  Theories as “casual stories”  Mostly correlation and not causation The Scientific Method: Six Steps  Develop a research question  Generate a falsifiable hypothesis o Should include independent variable and dependent variable o Dep. Variable examples:  Literacy rates (maybe in women)  Use of religion in platform o Think about falsifiable hypothesis with this as well  Conceptualize and operationalize variables  Collect data to analyze  Analyze data about the variables  Create new research question How Scientific is Political Science?  It is limited in producing universal claims because it is the study of people  Attempts to measure and define politics, which is broad, complex, and multifaceted  It has difficulty controlling for various factors while examining effects of another  Gal is to be as scientific as possible Comparative Politics + International Relations; Similar Yet Different  CP focuses on power and decision making within different state boundaries  International relations focuses on the interactions between + among national gov’ts Methods of Comparing to Understand Politics  Normative vs. Empirical o Normative: how things “should be.” Ex: Should religion be mixed with politics?  3 vital questions when designing a research project: o What levels of analysis should be employed?  Ask “why.” Different levels of analysis can answer this question o What forms of data should be collected and studied? o How many cases should be examined?  Case studies  Quantitative (Statistical) Analysis  The comparative method Individuals Localities Regions Groups The State Region of State The Int’l System Individuals: one or more states Localities: within a state (i.e. small town politics) Regions: within states (south versus northeast) Groups: within states (minority ethnic comparison) The State: comparing political institutions Region of State: Africa vs. Asias International System: encompasses everything Methods of Comparing Continued  What forms of data should be collected or studied?  How many cases should be examined? o Case studies o Quantitative (Statistical Analysis) o The Comparable Analysis o Choosing based on dependent variable is not right because biased Comparative Method  How to select cases for comparative analysis  Most similar approach (most similar systems) o Select cases that are similar on x. variables and different on y  Most different approach (most different systems) o Ex. Why were certain revolutions successful while others were not?  Method of Agreement: What all have in common; ex. All 4 students ate coleslaw  Method of Difference: ceteris paribus; different effects likely to be result of different causes A Framework for Comparative Politics: “Structure vs. Choice”  Understanding political outcomes through analysis of choices o Easier to individually interview peope rather than system or institution as a whole  Two sides of the Choice Approach o Individuals rather than system o Individuals and leadership matters o How individuals make decisions matters  Structure, choice, and levels of analysis o Choice and structure each have different levels of analysis that are more accurate


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