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Comparative Politics: Method or Field?

Seminararbeit 2005 8 Seiten

Politik - Politische Systeme - Allgemeines und Vergleiche


0. Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. What is comparative politics and what are its goals?

3. How did the field emerge?

4. What are the methods of the field?

5. Case studies – an important tool

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography (in order of appearance)

1. Introduction

“Comparativists want to understand the critical events of the day, a position that ensures that dreams of theory address the political world as it exists, not formal abstractions or utopias.” (Lichbach/Zuckerman 1997: 3-4)

These are ambitious goals of comparativists. The aim of this paper is to further expose the goals and the methods of the field of comparative politics. In order to do so, one has to define “field” to begin with and then go on with defining the subfield of political science. What is comparative politics, how did the field emerge and what are its methods? These are questions to be answered by this paper.

2. What is comparative politics and what are its goals?

What are the characteristics of a field of Political Science? This paper refers to a field as a class of objects studied, which are characterized by own approaches, methods respectively, and which are of general interests. Comparative politics is the only subfield of Political Science that tells us nothing about the subjects under study. Though, there are dominant themes existent within the field: democratization, regime changes, electoral systems etc.

The field of comparative politics is made of its goal of explaining and generalizing theories derived from its own method of comparison, which provides a different type of understanding. What is a method? A method is the organization of steps taken to complete a certain task, to reach a certain objective or to provide a systematic approach or discipline (

Like the discipline of political science the main goal of its subfield comparative politics is to explain. In order to explain one needs to understand first. One cannot understand a case without looking into the case deeply. One also needs the theoretical background in order to understand the observed case.

Comparative politics has its own method, comparison, and scientific purposes.

The field wants to generalize and to some extent help to predict certain political phenomena in the political world. The field of comparative politics has a large scope of inquiry: it wants to understand and explain political phenomena, taking into account all levels of analysis and all possible time periods.



ISBN (eBook)
432 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Southern Connecticut State University – Department of Political Science
Comparative Politics Method Field Proseminar



Titel: Comparative Politics: Method or Field?