Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction

Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction

Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction

Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics: An Introduction

Synopsis

Building on the strengths of the first edition, this accessible and user-friendly textbook explores the strategies of comparative research in political science. It begins by examining different methods, then highlights some of the big issues in comparative politics using a wealth of topical examples before discussing the new challenges in the area. Thoroughly revised throughout with the addition of extensive new material, this edition is also supplemented by the availability online of the author's datasets. The book is designed to make a complex subject easier and more accessible for students, and contains: * briefing boxes explaining key concepts and ideas * suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter * a glossary of terms.

Excerpt

This book is intended to be an accessible text on the strategies of comparative research in political science. It is aimed at upper-level undergraduate and first-year postgraduate students taking courses or doing degrees in political science, comparative politics, area studies (European politics, Russian and post-communist politics, Latin American politics, Third World politics, African politics, or Asian politics), public policy, human rights, and political explanation. The book self-consciously puts method first, and then interrogates some 'big issues' of comparative politics through the lenses of the methodologist in an effort to teach students to think about the logic behind comparison as well as the need for systematic research in political science. In this way, the book sees comparison as an important means to an end: namely, explanation of observed political phenomena.

The book is necessarily grounded in a certain way of 'doing' political science. Without becoming mired in the ongoing debate about different approaches to political science and social science in general, suffice it to say that this book assumes there are observable political events, actors, interests, structures, and outcomes about which political scientists can make reasoned, informed, and intelligent analytical statements. Variously called 'positivism', 'behaviouralism', or 'post-behaviouralism' (Fay 1975; Von Wright 1971; Sanders 1995; Lane 1996; Flyvberg 2001), this style of political science concentrates on observable political behaviour and events at the individual, group, or national level, and assumes that explanations of that behaviour are 'susceptible to empirical testing' (Sanders 1995:58). It is thus grounded in the position that the ultimate objects of comparative politics exist for the most part independent of and prior to their investigation (see Lane 1996; Lawson 1997). Moreover, it argues that the world of politics consists of important empirical puzzles to which political scientists apply a set of theories and methods in order to provide meaningful explanation and understanding (see Gordon 1991:629-30). This book is meant to aid those with a similar outlook on studying the political and social world in making statements about politics based on the best empirical evidence available, . . .

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