Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview

17
Comparative Politics
Ronald RogowskiComparative politics in the 1980s was characterized chiefly by five interrelated trends. 1 In approximate order of importance, these were:
1. A far greater attention to the economic aspects of politics, including the ways in which governmental policy affects economic growth or decline ( Bates 1981; Zysman 1983; Olson 1982; North 1981; Katzenstein 1985), 2 the structural constraints on econ- omic policy ( Hall 1986), and the effects of economic hardship on political cleavages and coalitions ( Gourevitch 1986).
2. Increased interest in the international context of domestic politics and institutions, encompassing new explanations, not only in the perhaps obvious domain of trade policy (e.g., Milner 1988), but in governmental growth ( Cameron 1978), social revolutions ( Skocpol 1979), political cleavages ( Gourevitch 1986; Rogowski 1989; Frieden 1991a), and forms and styles of governance ( Katzenstein 1985). 3
3. An altered and sharpened focus on interest groups particularly in the context of various kinds of corporatist ( Berger 1981; Schmitter 1981; Olson 1982; Katzenstein 1985).
4. A revival of interest in state structures and their performance ( Evans et al. 1985; Powell 1982; Lijphart 1990), treated perhaps most intriguingly as a trade-off between "markets" and "hierarchy" ( Williamson 1975, 1985). For obvious reasons, this line of work has assumed new importance with the collapse of the centrally planned economies.
5. Further work on nationalism and ethnic cleavages ( Laitin 1986; Horowitz 1985).

I shall focus on each of these topics in turn, endeavoring at the end to draw the strands together and to speculate about the directions of future work.


Economics and Politics: The "New Political Economy"

The oil price shock of 1973 threw into doubt the comfortable postwar assumption that, at least in the industrialized West, ever-increasing prosperity would bring an "end of ideology" and convergence on a single liberal model of governance. The ensuing deep recession evoked widely varying governmental responses and highlighted longer-term differences in economic performance. Among the economically advanced nations, the continuing Japanese "miracle" and the quite respectable growth of the continental European economies contrasted sharply with the dismal record of the U.S. and U.K. and the increasingly evident catastrophe of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 4 For the market economies, the simple statistics of average annual growth in real GDP per capita, both for the whole interval 1960 to 1980 and for the years after the oil price shock, spoke volumes ( OECD 1982):


Average Annual Growth in Real GDP Per Capita (%)
1960-80 1973-80
Japan 6.5 2.7
France 3.8 2.4
Italy 3.7 2.2
Germany 3.2 2.4
U.S. 2.3 1.3
U.K. 2.0 0.9

While official statistics for the USSR, based as they were on "Net Material Product," non-market prices, and propagandistic exaggeration, were not comparable, even they showed an annual total (not per capita) growth rate for the early 1980s of only about 3% ( International Monetary Fund 1991, 3); and, by some informed estimates, real per capita Soviet output in this period grew by less than 0.5% annually 5 -- despite the great benefits that the USSR, as a major exporter of petroleum, drew from the post-1973 price increases.

Among the less developed economies, the differences were even more stark. Africa had experienced declining growth of per capita output since 1960 and, after 1980, actual reductions; 6 much of the remaining Third World had stagnated economically; 7 but a few dramatic exceptions -- principally Taiwan, South

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