POLS260-1 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Department of Political Science
Instructor: Professor Kikue Hamayotsu Office: Zulauf Hall 414
Lecture: M/W 2-3:15 OfficeHours:M12-1;W11:30-1:30
Phone: 815-753-7048 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Teaching Assistant: Mr. Shawn McCafferty
This course will teach you about politics around the world and is designed as an introduction to the basic concepts and themes in Comparative Politics such as democracy, the political roots of development and poverty, and how contentious politics plays out in different forms across countries. If you are interested in political science as a major, this class helps prepare you for more advanced political science courses. If you just want to better understand what is going on in the world, this class will provide you with useful theoretical frameworks, as well as factual background, on a number of important countries and regions in the world.
The course will focus on the three essential themes of
comparative political analysis: (1) The State, Political Regimes and
Institutions; (2) Political Participation and State-Society Relations; and (3)
Political Economy. In the final sections, we will also review some major
contemporary issues. The underlying purpose of the course is to identify and
explain differences/similarities in political systems and political life across
a set of diverse countries and regions of the world. Through the comparison of
politics in different countries, we will shed light on some of the most
fundamental questions about politics: why are some countries democratic and
other not? Why does conflict within a society turn violent in some cases but
not in others? And, how are politics and economics related? To explore these
questions, we will be primarily (but not exclusively) focusing on six
This is a lecture course. In order to encourage discussion among students, however, class meetings consist of lectures followed by discussion. Students will make brief oral presentation and discuss the section’s readings.
1. Class attendance:
a. Students are required to attend all the classes. More than three unexcused absences will jeopardize your attendance grade and you will risk failing the course. Please notify your TA in advance if you must miss class.
a. Students are expected to come to class having done the reading beforehand and to actively participate in discussion. It is helpful to approach the readings with the following questions in mind: (a) what is the central question/debate? (b) what is the main argument? (c) what is the evidence for the argument? (d) what are the problems with the argument? (e) can you think of counterarguments? Students should also address these questions in writing assignments.
3. One class presentation (10%):
a. On the first day of class, students will be asked to sign-up for a particular section in which to present.
b. The presentation should be a critique of the readings of the session and must address central controversies to stimulate class discussion. Students may want to choose an article from a national/international newspaper or other publication (such as The Economist, the Chicago Tribune, or the New York Times) that relates to the section’s readings (you can be creative). The presentation should be approximately 10 minutes.
4. Random quizzes
a. A handful of brief quizzes will be given randomly throughout the semester. They will focus mainly on the required readings. The purpose of this component of the evaluation is to encourage the students to do the assigned readings, and to come to class prepared to discuss the material. If it becomes clear that people are not coming to class prepared, the instructor reserves the right to take the drastic action of giving pop quizzes. Otherwise, quizzes will be announced the class before they are due.
b. Two in-class exams
Ø The mid-term exam: consists of a short-answer section and essay questions. The exam will cover the first half of the course. Students will be expected to write clear and coherent essays.
Ø The final exam: consists of a short-answer section and essay questions. The exam will primarily cover materials from the second half of the course, but test your overall understanding of the materials covered in the course.
c. One term paper
Ø Students will be required to write a short term paper (5-6 pp). The paper topic will be given in class. The paper due is November 24.
Ø The paper must be typewritten (12 font), double-spaced, and properly footnoted.
1. Class attendance (10%) and presentation (10%)
2. Term paper (20%)
3. Exams (20%+40%)
a. Late submission will result in grade reduction for a 1/3 the letter grade per day (e.g., “A” will be lowered to “A-” if submission is a day late). No paper will be accepted that is more than one week late.
b. Plagiarism Policy: According to the NIU Undergraduate Catalogue “Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university.” In short, all ideas that are not your own or well known must be footnoted. A general rule is that if the information cannot be found in three or more commonly available sources it should be footnoted. All direct quotations must be placed in quotation marks. If you are unsure as to what should be footnoted either play it safe and footnote, or ask for assistance. Failure to adhere to the University’s plagiarism policy will result in punishments ranging from a failed course grade to suspension and even expulsion, depending on the egregiousness of the infraction.
The following textbooks have been ordered at the university bookstore and should be available for purchase. The rest of the readings are uploaded in Blackboard. A number of Internet links have been made to on-line journals. Students may either download the articles or read them on line. The required readings and textbooks will also be kept in library reserve.
Textbooks to purchase:
Kopstein, Jeffrey, and
Mark Lichback, eds. 2005. Comparative Politics:
Interests, Identities, and Institutions in a Changing Global Order. Second ed.
Patrick H. 2007. Essentials of Comparative Politics. Second ed.
Zakaria, Fareed. 2003. The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy
at Home and Abroad.
PART I: INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Week 1.1 (Aug 25) Course Introduction
Week 1.2 (Aug 27) Comparative Methods, Toolkits, and Issues
n What is Comparative Politics? Why do we have to care to study?
Kopstein and Lichback, Ch.1-2 (pp.1-36)
PART II: States, Regimes and Democratic Transitions
Week 2.1 (Sept 1) Labor Day
Week 2.2 (Sept 3) States
n What is the state and why use it as a unit of analysis?
O’Neil, Ch.2 (pp.20-43)
Week 3.1 (Sept 8) State Formation
n Why and how have we got state institutions that we have now?
Kopstein and Lichback, Ch.4 (especially pp.81-98)
Week 3.2 (Sept 10) Nationalism 1
n Ethnic and national identities
n Where does a “national identity” come from? Who reserves the right to define it?
1994. Nationalism and the State. Second ed.
O’Neil, Ch.3 (especially pp.44-53)
n Who should be included and in what terms?
Ø Video: TBA
“Our Town”, NYT Magazine,
Brubaker. 2001. “The Return of Assimilation?” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24 (4), pp.531-548.
Week 4.2 (Sept 17) Democracy 1
n What is democracy and what is not?
n What are the requisites for democracy?
Gabriel A. 2004. Comparative Political System.
In Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, edited
by P. O'Neil and R. Rogowski.
Zakaria, Introduction (pp.13-27).
n Parliamentary democracies
Kopstein and Lichback, Ch.3 (especially pp.51-75)
Week 5.2 (Sept 24) Democratic Transitions and Consolidations 1
n Illiberal Democracy
Zakaria, Ch3 (pp.89-118)
Week 6.1 (Sept 29) Democratic Transitions and Consolidations 2
Kopstein and Lichback, Ch.7 (especially pp.205-238)
Week 6.2 (Oct 1) Authoritarian Regimes 1
n What is authoritarianism?
O’Neil, Ch.5 (pp.110-133)
Ø Video: TBA
n What explains resilience of some authoritarian regimes?
Kopstein and Lichback, Ch.8 (pp.274-282)
Nathan, Andrew J. 2003.
Week 8.2 (Oct 15) Democracy and Culture
n Civil Society and Social Capital
Fukuyama, Francis. 1995. The Primacy of Culture. Journal of Democracy 6 (1):7-14.
Putnam, Robert D. 1995. Bowling Alone:
Week 9.1 (Oct 20) Democracy and Culture
n Are certain cultural traits required for democracy?
n Is Islam an exception?
Zakaria, Ch.4 (pp.119-159)
PART III: State-Society Relations
Week 9.2 (Oct 22) Social Movements 1
n Why do people rebel?
Week 10.1 (Oct 27) Social Movements 2
n Video: Tiananmen uprising
Perry, Elizabeth J., and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom. 1994. Casting Chinese "Democracy" Movement: The roles of
Students, Workers, and Entrepreneurs. In Popular Protest
and Political Culture in Modern China, edited by E. J. Perry.
Week 10.2 (Oct 29) Social Movements - Political Islam
Fuller, Graham E. 2002. The Future of Political Islam. Foreign Affairs 81 (2):48-60.
Wickham, Carrie Rosefsky. 2004. Interests, Ideas, and
Islamist Outreach in
Week 11.1 (Nov 3) Ethnicity: Ethnic conflict
n What are the causes of ethnic violence?
O’Neil, Ch.3 (especially pp.53-56)
Varshney, Ashutosh. 2001. Ethnic Conflict and Civil Society:
Week 11.2 (Nov 5) Religion and Politics
§ Radical Islam
Ø Video: “War Within” (CNN)
Economist Special Report, “Faith and Politics”
O’Neil, Ch.3 (pp.65-74)
PART IV: Political Economy—State and Market
Week 12.1 (Nov 10) Political Economy
n What is Political Economy?
O’Neil, Ch.4 (pp.77-109)
Week 12.2 (Nov 12) State and Market
n Why are some countries resource-poor but rich while others are resource-rich but poor?
n Shall state intervention facilitate development? If so, how?
Kopstein and Lechback,
Week 13.1 (Nov 17) Democracy and Development 1
n Does economic growth promote democracy/ Does democracy promote economic growth?
Zakaria, Ch.2 (pp.59-88)
Kopstein and Lichbach, chap.10 (especially pp.354-67)
Week 13.2 (Nov 19) Democracy and Development 2
Varshney, Ashutosh. 1998. Why Democracy Survives. Journal of Democracy 9 (3):36-50.
Kopstein and Lichbach, chap.10 (especially pp.367-77)
PART V: Contemporary Challenges
Week 14.1 (Nov 24) Globalization and Nation-States
O’Neil, Ch.10 (pp.250-276).
Wolf, Martin. 2001. “Will the Nation-State Survive Globalization?” Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb. pp.160-77.
n THE TERM PAPER DUE
Week 14.2 (Nov 26) THANKSGIVING HOLIDY: NO CLASS
Week 15.1 (Dec 1) Globalization and Identity/Culture
n Does globalization facilitate a universal identity or a clash among different cultural identities?
Ø Video: TBA
Huntington, Samuel P. 1993. The clash of civilizations? Foreign Affairs 72 (3)
Week 15.2 (Dec 3) Review: What’s next?
Tips for Doing Well in this Class
1. Do the readings AND come to class. Lectures will refer to the assigned readings but they will not summarize them and they are not an adequate substitute. Likewise, lectures will cover material that is not in the readings, and that may appear on the exams.
2. Read critically. As you read, note questions that you would like to raise in lecture or section, and think critically about the author's evidence and arguments.
3. Think comparatively. Ask yourself how the particular case you are reading about compares with similar developments in other countries, regions, or periods.
4. Participate actively in discussion sections and in lecture. Take notes on lectures, and be engaged in the question and discussion periods that will be held during the final minutes of class.
5. Keep up with current events. If you do not already do so, read the international pages of at least one major national / international paper every day. Examples include The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Think about how contemporary events relate to the themes and cases studied in class.
6. Know the locations of the countries and regions we cover. Geography is critically important for understanding a nation's historical development and importantly influences national security interests and many other areas of political life. If a name of a country is mentioned that you can't pinpoint on a map (a vague sense of where it is located is insufficient!), locate it on a map. Also note what its neighboring countries and regions are. Maps of the countries and regions of the world we will cover can be found in the Essentials of Comparative Politics text.
7. Follow up on topics you find particularly interesting by reading beyond the assigned texts. Look for hints of where to find additional materials by looking at footnotes and references in the readings or by asking your T.A. or me for suggested additional readings.
8. Take advantage of office hours. The T.A.s and I are here to help if you're having trouble understanding concepts or if you are simply interested in further discussing topics covered in class (see #7 above).