Undergraduate Affiliate Programme in Political Studies 2014-15
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Dr. James Melton
Office Hours:
Wednesdays 10:00-11:30 a.m. and by appointment
10 hours of lectures, 10 hours of seminars
0.5 Course Units/ 4 US Credits/ 7.5 ECTS Credits
Two 2,000 word essays (Essay 1: 40%; Essay 2: 60%)
Essay Deadlines:
Essay 1: Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 2pm
Essay 2: Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 2pm
attendance is compulsory at all lectures and seminars for which
students are timetabled. Attendance will be monitored and no
student will be entered for assessment unless they have attended
and pursued the module to the satisfaction of the department.
Lecture and Seminar Times:
Online Timetable at www.ucl.ac.uk/timetable
Extenuating Circumstances
Penalties for Late Submission and Overlength Essays
Essay Submission Information
Essay Writing, Plagiarism and TurnItIn
POLS 6011 – Introduction to Comparative
University College London
Course Outline – Fall 2014
James Melton
E-mail: [email protected]
Office: The Rubin Building, #3.01
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10:00-11:30 a.m. and by appointment
Course Description and Objectives
This course addresses the primary theoretical debates regarding domestic political activity
within various countries. It is called comparative politics due to its emphasis on the
similarities and differences within states’ domestic political systems. The course will examine
both institutional structures and societal composition, including how the two interact to
produce political outcomes. Institutional topics covered include the nature of states, political
and economic development, different constitutional and electoral systems, different regime
types, and regime transitions. With regard to society, the course will examine different
models of political decision making, how institutions constrain political decision making, as
well as aspects of civil society and political culture.
At the end of this course students will:
have a broad understanding of the institutional similarities and differences of
domestic political systems, including the basics of constitutions and electoral systems
understand how individuals’ preferences and culture interact with institutional
constraints to yield political outcomes
learn to apply the comparative approach to understand the causes of domestic
political outcomes
Course Requirements
Course Meetings: The course is taught through 10 weekly meetings. Each meeting will
involve a 50 minute lecture, where the key arguments from that week's readings will be
introduced, and a 50 minute seminar, where the arguments introduced in lecture will be
discussed and debated. Active participation in all course meetings is mandatory.
Readings: Each week has required and suggested readings. Note that I expect all required
readings to be completed before that week’s lecture. Most required readings are from the
following textbook:
- Clark, William Roberts, Matt Golder, and Sona Nadenichek Golder. 2012. Principles of
Comparative Politics, 2nd Edition. Washington DC: CQ Press.
The Clark, Golder and Golder text is only one of many introductory comparative politics
texts. Each text presents essentially the same material in a slightly different manner. If you
have trouble understanding the material as it is presented in Clark, Golder and Golder, you
might supplement the assigned readings from that text with readings from one (or more) of
the following texts:
- Caramani, Daniele. 2008. Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Newton, Kenneth and Jan W. van Deth. 2010. Foundations of Comparative Politics, 2nd
Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Zuckerman, Alan S. and Mark Irving Lichbach. 1997. Comparative Politics: Rationality,
Culture, and Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Each of these textbooks is available from the UCL library.
Many weeks require or suggest reading from influential books or journal articles. These
readings are available through the online reading list, which is accessible through the
course's Moodle page.
Participation: Each seminar will involve an activity that allows critical engagement with
the lecture material. These activities are an opportunity for students to gain a deeper
understanding of the lecture material. I expect active participation by all participants.
Assessment: The course is assessed by two 2,000 word essays. More information about
the essays is available on Moodle, and we will be discussing your essays in detail during the
second seminar. The first essay will be due on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 and the second
on Tuesday, 9 December 2014. Late and over-length essays will be penalized according to
the regulations set forth by UCL and the Department of Political Science.
Your essays should take the form of a research note. In other words, they should be an
abbreviated form of a traditional political science manuscript, with an introduction, an
integrated literature review and theory section, where your argument is made and perhaps
some empirical evidence is presented, and a conclusion. For formatting, you can follow the
guidelines set forth by any of the major political science journals (e.g. the American Political
Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, or the British Journal of Political
Science), but please be consistent.
Course Outline
Week 1 – The Scientific Study of Comparative Politics
Topics: what is politics?; the scientific method; the comparative method
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapters 1-3
Supplemental Reading:
Brady, Henry E. and David Collier. 2004. Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools,
Shared Standards. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Collier, David. 1993. “The Comparative Method.” Political Science: The State of Discipline
II. Ed. Ada W. Finifter. Washington, D.C.: American Political Science Association,
Gerring, John. 2007. Case Study Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kellstedt, Paul M. and Guy D. Whitten. 2009. The Fundamentals of Political Science
Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
King, Gary, Sidney Verba and Robert O. Keohane. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry:
Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Lijphart, Arend. 1971. “Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method.” American
Political Science Review. 65.3: 682-693.
Ragin, Charles C. 2008. Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy Sets and Beyond. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Shadish, William R., Thomas D. Cook and Donald T. Campbell. 2002. Experimental and
Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference. Boston: Houghton
Week 2 –Political Decision Making
Topics: rational choice theory; the effect of institutions and culture on individual and group
decision making; the micro-foundations of politics; institutional veto players
Required Reading:
Elster, Jon. 1989. Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. (Chapter 3)
Elkins, David J. and Richard E.B. Simeon. 1979. “A Cause in Search of Its Effect, or What
Does Political Culture Explain?” Comparative Politics. 11.2: 127-145.
March, James G. and Johan P. Olsen. 1996. “Institutional Perspectives on Political
Institutions.” Governance. 9.3: 247-264.
Supplemental Reading:
Aldrich, John. 1993. “Rational Choice and Turnout.” American Journal of Political Science.
37.1: 246-278.
Almond, Gabriel and Sidney Verba. 1989. The Civic Culture Revisited. Newbury Park:
Baron, David P. and John A. Ferejohn. 1989. “Bargaining in Legislatures.” American
Political Science Review. 83.4: 1181-1206.
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapter 11
Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
Elster, Jon. 1986. Rational Choice. Oxford: Blackwell.
Elster, Jon. 1989. Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. (remaining chapters)
Green, Donald P. and Ian Shapiro. 1994. Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A
Critique of Applications in Political Science. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Inglehart, Ronald and Wayne E. Baker. 2000. “Modernization, Cultural Change, and the
Persistence of Traditional Values.” American Sociological Review. 65.1: 19-51.
Jackman, Robert W. 1987. “Political Institutions and Voter Turnout in the Industrial
Democracies.” American Political Science Review. 81.2: 405-424.
Jackman, Robert W. and Ross A. Miller. 1996. “A Renaissance of Political Culture?”
American Journal of Political Science. 40.3: 632-659.
Johnson, Chalmers. 1997. “Preconception vs. Observation, or the Contributions of Rational
Choice Theory and Area Studies to Contemporary Political Science.” PS: Political
Science and Politics. 30.2: 170-174.
Klingemann, Hans-Dieter, Dieter Fuchs, and Jan Zielonka. 2006. Democracy and Political
Culture in Eastern Europe. London: Routledge.
Leeds, Brett Ashley. 1999. “Domestic Political Institutions, Credible Commitments, and
International Cooperation.” American Journal of Political Science. 43.4: 979-1002.
North, Douglass C. 1993. “Institutions and Credible Commitment.” Journal of Institutional
and Theoretical Economics. 149.1: 11-23.
North, Douglass C. and Barry R. Weingast. 1989. “Constitutions and Commitment: The
Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England.”
The Journal of Economic History. 49.4: 803-832.
Olson, Mancur. 1971. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of
Groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Ostrom, Elinor. 1999. “Coping with Tragedies of the Commons.” Annual Review of
Political Science. 2.1: 493-535.
Putnam, Robert D., Robert Leonardi, and Raffaella Nanetti. 1993. Making Democracy
Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Pye, Lucian. 1991. “Political Culture Revisited.” Political Psychology. 12.3: 487-508.
Rabinowitz, George and Stuart Elaine MacDonald. 1989. “A Directional Theory of Issue
Voting.” American Political Science Review. 83.1: 93-121.
Riker, William H. and Peter C. Ordeshook. 1968. “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting.”
American Political Science Review. 62.1: 25-42.
Shepsle, Kenneth A. 1979. “Institutional Arrangements and Equilibrium in
Multidimensional Voting Models.” American Journal of Political Science. 23.1: 2759.
Week 3 – The Modern State
Topics: the modern state; functions of the modern state; state failure
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapter 4
Supplemental Reading:
Bates, Robert. 2008. When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Evans, Peter B. 1997. “The Eclipse of the State? Reflections on Stateness in an Era of
Globalization.” World Politics. 50.1: 62-87.
Evans, Peter B., Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol. 1985. Bringing the State Back
In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Haggard, Stephan and Robert R. Kaufman. 1992. The Politics of Economic Adjustment:
International Constraints, Distributive Conflicts, and the State. Princeton:
Princeton University Press.
Herbst, Jeffrey. 2000. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and
Control. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Jackson, Robert H. and Carl G. Rosberg. 1982. “Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: the
Economic and the Juridical in Statehood.” World Politics. 35.1: 1-24.
Melleuish, Gregory. 2002. “The State in World History: Perspectives and Problems.”
Australian Journal of Politics & History. 48.3: 322-335.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie. “The Real New World Order.” Foreign Affairs. 76.5: 183-197.
Tilly, Charles. 1992. Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990-1992. Cambridge:
Vu, Tuong. 2010. “Studying the State through State Formation.” World Politics. 62.1: 148175.
Week 4 – Regimes
Topics: conceptualization and operationalization of regime-type; quality of democracy;
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapters 5 and 9
Supplemental Reading:
Adcock, Robert and David Collier. 1999. “Democracy and Dichotomies: A Pragmatic
Approach to Choices about Concepts.” Annual Review of Political Science. 2: 537565.
Boix, Carles. 2011. “Democracy, Development, and the International System.” American
Political Science Review. 105.4: 809-828.
Cheibub, Jose Antonio, Jennifer Gandhi and James Raymond Vreeland. 2009. “Democracy
and Dictatorship Revisited.” Public Choice. 143.1-2: 67-101.
Dahl, Robert A. 1971. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
Diamond, Larry. 1990. “Three Paradoxes of Democracy.” Journal of Democracy. 1.3: 4860.
Diamond, Larry and Leonardo Morlino. 2004. “The Quality of Democracy: An Overview.”
Journal of Democracy. 15.4: 20-31.
Munck, Gerardo L. and Jay Verkuilen. 2002. “Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy:
Evaluating Alternative Indices.” Comparative Political Studies. 35.1: 5-34.
Olson, Mancur. 1993. “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development.” American Political
Science Review. 87.3: 567-576.
Pemstein, Daniel, Stephen Meserve, and James Melton. 2010. “Democratic Compromise: A
Latent Variable Analysis of Ten Measures of Regime Type.” Political Analysis.
18.4: 426-449.
Schmitter, Philippe, and Terry Lynn Karl. 1991. “What Democracy Is…And Is Not.” Journal
of Democracy. 2.3: 75-88.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. 1954. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. London: Allen
Weingast, Barry. 1997. “The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law.”
American Political Science Review. 91.2: 245-263.
Week 5 – Regime Transitions
Topics: waves of democracy; top-down versus bottom-up transitions; determinants of
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapters 6, 7, and 8
Supplemental Reading:
Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson. 2006. Economic Origins of Dictatorship and
Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boix, Carles and Susan C. Stokes. 2003. “Endogenous Democratization.” World Politics.
55.4: 517-549.
Diamond, Larry. 1990. “Three Paradoxes of Democracy.” Journal of Democracy. 1.3: 4860.
Huntington, Samuel. 1993. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs. 72.3: 22-49.
Linz, Juan J. and Alfred Stepan. 1996. Problems of Democratic Transition and
Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. “Some Social Prerequisites for Democracy: Economic
Development and Political Legitimacy.” American Political Science Review. 53.1:
O’Donnell, Guillermo A. and Philippe C. Schmitter. 1986. Transitions from Authoritarian
Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press.
Przeworski, Adam. 1991. Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in
Eastern Europe and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Przeworski, Adam, Michael E. Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub and Fernando Limongi. 2000.
Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World,
1950-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rustow, Dankwart A. 1970. “Transitions to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model.”
Comparative Politics. 2.3: 337-363.
Svolik, Milan. 2008. “Authoritarian Reversals and Democratic Consolidation.” American
Political Science Review. 102.2: 153-168.
Week 6 – Systems of Government
Topics: parliamentary, presidential, and semi-presidential systems; government formation;
principal-agent problems
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapters 12
Supplemental Reading:
Cheibub, Jose Antonio. 2007. Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Druckman, James N. and Andrew Roberts. 2005. “Context and Coalition-Bargaining:
Comparing Portfolio Allocation in Eastern and Western Europe.” Party Politics.
11.5: 535-555.
Duverger, Maurice. 1980. “A New Political System Model: Semi-Presidential Government.”
European Journal of Political Research. 8.2: 165-187.
Laver, Michael and Norman Schofield. 1998. Multiparty Government: The Politics of
Coalition in Europe. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Lijphart, Arend. 1981. “Power-sharing versus Majority Rule: Patterns of Cabinet Formation
in Twenty Democracies.” Government and Opposition. 16.4: 395-413.
Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in
Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Chapters 1-4, 6-7, and 11)
Linz, Juan J. 1990. “The Perils of Presidentialism.” Journal of Democracy. 1.1: 51-69.
Sartori, Giovanni. 1997. Comparative Constitutional Engineering: An Inquiry into
Structures, Incentives, and Outcomes, 2nd Edition. Basingstoke: MacMillan.
(Chapters 5-12)
Siaroff, Alan. 2003. “Comparative Presidencies: The Inadequacy of the Presidential, SemiPresidential, and Parliamentary Distinction.” European Journal of Political
Research. 42.3: 287-312.
Strom, Kaare. 1984. “Minority Governments in Parliamentary Democracies: The
Rationality of Nonwinning Cabinet Solutions.” Comparative Political Studies. 17.2:
Warwick, Paul V. and James N. Druckman. 2001. “Portfolio Salience and the
Proportionality Payoffs in Coalition Governments.” British Journal of Political
Science. 31.4: 627-649.
Week 7 – Electoral and Party Systems
Topics: proportional, majoritarian, and mixed systems; sources of variance within the main
types of electoral systems; relationship between the electoral system and the party system
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapters 13 and 14
Supplemental Reading:
Cox, Gary. 1997. Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World’s Electoral
Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Horowitz, Donald L. 2003. “Electoral Systems: A Primer for Decision Makers.” Journal of
Democracy. 14.4: 115-127.
Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in
Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Chapters 5 and 8)
Norris, Pippa. 2004. Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Reynolds, Andrew, Ben Reilly and Andrew Ellis, Eds. 2005. Electoral System Design: The
New International IDEA Handbook. Stockholm: International IDEA.
Riker, William H. 1976. “The Number of Political Parties: A Reexamination of Duverger’s
Law.” Comparative Politics. 9.1: 93-106.
Sartori, Giovanni. 1997. Comparative Constitutional Engineering: An Inquiry into
Structures, Incentives, and Outcomes, 2nd Edition. Basingstoke: MacMillan.
(Chapters 1-4)
Week 8 – Institutional Veto Players
Topics: veto players theory; federalism; bicameralism; the judiciary
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder, and Golder, Chapter 15
Supplemental Reading:
Beck, Thorsten, George Clark, Alberto Groff, Philip Keefer, and Patrick Walsh. 2001. “New
Tools in Comparative Political Economy: The Database of Political Institutions.”
World Bank Economic Review. 15.1: 165-176.
Gehlbach, Scott, and Edmund J. Malesky. 2010. “The Contribution of Veto Players to
Economic Reform.” The Journal of Politics. 72.4: 957-975.
Hallerberg, Mark, and Scott Basinger. 1998. “Internationalization and Changes in Tax
Policy in OECD Countries.” Comparative Political Studies. 31.3: 321-352.
Henisz, Witold J. 2002. Politics and International Investment: Measuring Risks and
Protecting Profits. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Keefer, Philip, and David Stasavage. 2003. “The Limits of Delegation: Veto Players, Central
Bank Independence, and the Credibility of Monetary Policy.” American Political
Science Review. 97.3: 407-423.
North, Douglass C. and Barry R. Weingast. 1989. “Constitutions and Commitment: The
Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England.”
The Journal of Economic History. 49.4: 803-832.
Stasavage, David. 2002. “Private Investment and Political Institutions.” Economics &
Politics. 14.1: 41-63.
Tsebelis, George. 1995. “Decision Making in Political Systems: Veto Players in
Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, Multicameralism, and Multipartyism.” British
Journal of Political Science. 25.3: 289-325.
Tsebelis, George. 1999. “Veto Players and Law Production in Parliamentary Democracies:
An Empirical Analysis.” American Political Science Review. 93.3: 591-608.
Tsebelis, George. 2002. Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work. Princeton:
Princeton University Press.
Week 9 – Varieties of Dictatorship
Topics: types of dictatorship; similarities between democratic and dictatorial institutions;
explanations for the survival of dictatorship
Required Reading:
Clark, Golder and Golder, Chapter 10
Gandhi, Jennifer and Adam Przeworski. 2007. “Authoritarian Institutions and the Survival
of Autocrats.” Comparative Political Studies. 40.11: 1279-1301.
Malesky, Edmund and Paul Schuler. 2011. “The Single-Party Dictator’s Dilemna:
Information in Elections without Opposition.” Legislative Studies Quarterly. 36.4:
Supplemental Reading:
Brooker, Paul. 2009. Non-Democratic Regimes, 2nd Edition. New York: Palgrave
Brzezinski, Zbigniew. 1956. “Totalitarianism and Rationality.” American Political Science
Review. 50.3: 751-763.
Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions Under Dictatorship. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Geddes, Barbara. 1999. “What Do We Know about Democratization after Twenty Years.”
Annual Review of Political Science. 2: 115-144.
Lai, Brian, and Dan Slater. 2005. “Institutions of the Offensive: Domestic Sources of
Dispute Initiation in Authoritarian Regimes, 1950-1992.” American Journal of
Political Science. 50.1: 113-126.
Levitsky, Steven and Lucan Way. 2002. “The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism.”
Journal of Democracy. 13.2: 51-65.
Malesky, Edmund. 2010. “Nodding or Needling: Analyzing Delegate Responsiveness in an
Authoritarian Parliament.” American Political Science Review. 104.3: 482-502.
Schedler, Andreas, Ed. 2006. Electoral Authoritarianism: The Dynamics of Unfree
Competition. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Svolik, Milan. 2012. The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Winthrope, Ronald. 1998. The Political Economy of Dictatorship. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Wright, Joseph. 2008. “Do Authoritarian Institutions Constrain? How Legislatures Affect
Economic Growth and Investment.” American Journal of Political Science. 52.2:
Week 10 – Concluding Remarks