Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview

patronized as strictly provincial rulers? By a logic too intricate to reproduce here, Laitin predicts that the cases of full incorporation (typical of western European nation- building) will have produced either total assimilation or, where ethnicity does revive (e.g., Catalonia), intense conflicts only within the regional elite. Where acceptance of local elites was halting or absent (as under European colonial rule in India and Africa), ethnicity revives easily under a coalition of old and new elites; but intense conflict often ensues between the locally dominant and locally subordinate ethnic groups, with the latter often preferring continued central rule. Among the territories of the former Soviet Union, Laitin believes, Ukraine exemplifies the former pattern; Central Asia, the latter. Georgia and Estonia assume an intermediate position.

Laitin's argument links readily to Horowitz's, and both gain credence from recent Soviet events. Where colonial rulers see their subjects as most alien, they will be least ready to accept even local elites as equal; and they will be most inclined to draw invidious distinctions about the degree to which their various subject peoples meet the high standard of civilization to which they, the conquerors, have already attained. On the evidence so far, it is precisely the most "colonial" areas of the Soviet empire that have experienced the most vicious interethnic conflict, often on precisely the lines that Horowitz would have led us to expect: e.g., the Armenians are regarded as more "advanced" than the Azerbaijanis, who therefore see themselves as economically threatened. 70

International Factors

Connecting to an earlier part of this survey, international factors in ethnic revivals have been noted by several authors. In the nineteenth century, international markets and the threat of international conflict both argued for large states. Today, freer trade and a relaxation of tensions encourage the formation of smaller, more ethnically homogeneous units ( Rogowski 1985, 380- 381). Horowitz ( 1985, 35) notes that international pressure now virtually prohibits ranked systems of ethnicity -- consider only the South African case -- and Laitin concedes that international diplomatic recognition of successor republics has played a crucial role in the breakup of the USSR and Yugoslavia (1991, 176).

At a slightly deeper level, one may suggest, the mere availability of wider and more lucrative international markets -- for Scottish oil, Quebec timber and hydroelectric power, Uzbek cotton, or Baltic entrepreneurship 71 -- may have nourished ethnic grievances and encouraged ethnic separatism.


Twin tendencies run as an unbroken thread through the entire preceding discussion: the growing reliance on economic, and the relegation of sociological, modes of analysis in comparative politics. Those areas in which the most has been accomplished, namely political economy, the study of the international-domestic linkage, and the analysis of pressure groups, are those most characterized by extensive borrowing from, and collaboration with, economists. The area now best poised to make a similar advance, the study of the state, is being prodded by economists to do so. The domain that remains least satisfactorily explained, despite its evident importance, is the one to which the least economic analysis has been applied, namely that of ethnic conflict and nationalism. So far as the study of comparative politics was concerned, Brian Barry ( 1970) was either prescient or successfully hortatory when, two decades ago, he weighed the previously dominant sociological approaches in the balance and found them wanting.

What of the future? While no one can rule out a sociological revival (see Eckstein 1988; Inglehart 1988) or the emergence of some yet more powerful alternative approach, the likeliest prospect is that the economic perspective will continue to dominate. Relatedly, the most exciting and promising future work is likely to center on the issue of economic growth and performance: what policies and property rights most favor growth in particular circumstances; what institutions best guarantee the maintenance of those policies; and what aspects of domestic civil society or of the international environment favor the adoption and survival of such institutions? Why are anti-growth policies so often chosen? These questions are of particular moment for the post-Communist societies, but they agitate also the Third World (e.g., India, Mexico) and the industrialized West (debates about central bank independence in Italy, New Zealand, and the European Community; about the electoral system in Japan and the United Kingdom; about how to enforce fiscal discipline and whether to adopt a conscious industrial policy in the United States).

A second major area of future inquiry is likely to revolve around economic internationalization. More open trade in goods and services, easier movement of factors, the widening and deepening of such regional regimes as the European Community and (if it comes to pass) the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) affect institutions, constrain policies, and re-shape political alignments. Our models for explaining and predicting those effects are in their infancy; but the baby seems lusty and has nourishment close to hand, chiefly from


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Political Science: The State of the Discipline II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Theory and Method 1
  • 1: Texts and Canons: The Status of the "Great Books" in Political Theory 3
  • Conclusion 21
  • Notes 22
  • Bibliography 23
  • 2: Political Theory in the 1980s: Perplexity Amidst Diversity 27
  • Notes 43
  • Bibliography 43
  • Additional Bibliography 46
  • 3: Feminist Challenges to Political Science 55
  • Notes 72
  • Bibliography 73
  • 4: Formal Rational Choice Theory: A Cumulative Science of Politics 77
  • Concluding Comments 97
  • Notes 98
  • Bibliography 101
  • 5: The Comparative Method 105
  • Conclusion 116
  • Notes 117
  • Bibliography 117
  • 6: The State of Quantitative Political Methodology 121
  • Conclusion 148
  • Notes 148
  • Bibliography 150
  • Political Processes and Individual Political Behavior 161
  • 7: Comparative Political Parties: Research and Theory 163
  • Conclusion 183
  • Notes 184
  • Bibliography 185
  • 8: The Not So Simple Act of Voting 193
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 214
  • 9: The New Look in Public Opinion Research 219
  • Notes 240
  • Bibliography 240
  • 10: Expanding Disciplinary Boundaries 247
  • Conclusion 269
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 271
  • 11: Citizens, Contexts, and Politics 281
  • Conclusion: Putting the Puzzle Back Together 299
  • Bibliography 300
  • 12: Political Communication 305
  • Conclusions 323
  • Bibliography 324
  • Political Institutions of the State 333
  • 13: Legislatures: Individual Purpose and Institutional Performance 335
  • Conclusions: Behavior, Institutions, and Theory 354
  • Notes 357
  • Bibliography 357
  • 14: Public Law and Judicial Politics 365
  • 15: Political Executives and Their Officials 383
  • Conclusion 402
  • Bibliography 403
  • 16: Public Administration: The State of the Field 407
  • Notes 423
  • Bibliography 424
  • Nations and Their Relationships 429
  • 17: Comparative Politics 431
  • Conclusion 443
  • Notes 444
  • Bibliography 446
  • 18: Global Political Economy 451
  • Conclusion 474
  • Notes 476
  • Bibliography 477
  • Conclusions 483
  • Conclusions 503
  • Notes 504
  • Bibliography 505
  • Appendix 511
  • Contributors 513
  • Index of Cited Authors 517


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