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COURSE NAME: "Comparative Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Bridget Welsh
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00-11:15 AM
OFFICE HOURS: Mondays 1:30-4:30pm

As both a subject and a method of study, comparative politics examines the nature, development, structure and functioning of the political systems of a selection of countries with very different cultures, social and economic profiles, political histories and geographic characteristics. Through case studies, students will learn to use the comparativist’s methods to collect and organize the information and develop general explanations.

This course is designed to introduce students to the subfield of comparative politics. This course will introduce students to a basic set of concepts and ideas which comparative political scientists employ to analyze differences and similitudes in the present and future political life of any given country. From the onset students will learn how power is studied and practiced and learn tools to better understand the challenges in the modern globalized world. The course will include the basic concepts and theoretical approaches in comparative politics as well as discuss case studies where the issues and theories are relevant. Among the many important questions the survey course will examine are the nature of political regimes, debates about political culture, political identity and ideologies, public policy, political participation, the political economy and globalization. Students will enrich their knowledge and skills that will help them in any career and in becoming more empowered and informed citizens. 


After this course, students should expect to begin thinking, reading, writing and acting as a specialist on comparative politics!  

Specific Learning Objectives 

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

·       Understand a Range of Concepts, Theories and Approaches in Comparative Politics

·        Appreciate the Diversity of Political Perspectives and Outlooks

·       Frame Problems from Multiple Perspectives

·       Construct and Present their Own Interpretations of Political Events 

·       Recognize the Range and Variation in Forms of Political Power

·       Evaluate Government Approaches to Key Issues of Welfare and Inequality

·       Formulate their Own Opinions on Political Issues

·       Research Contemporary Political Issues

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Essentials of Comparative Politics. 6th Edition. (2017). Patrick H. O’Neill. Norton CompanyISBN-13: 978-0393624588  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Billion Dollar Whale. Tom Wright and Bradley Hope.(London: Hachette Books, 2018) ISBN-13: 978-0316453479  

Class Participation/Field Assignments/In-Class AssignmentsClass Attendance, In-Class/Field Assignments & Participation (15% of total grade) Students are expected to read all the required reading before class to participate in discussion. Please note that more than THREE absences of any class session will significantly lower a student’s final participation grade. Regular patterns of tardiness will also negatively affect a student’s performance. Class participation will be assessed based on the quality of participation in the class, with higher marks given to students who relate inputs to the course readings and express individual ideas articulately and succinctly. Students are not evaluated on the volume that they say, but the degree to which their participation adds value to the discussion. Students are asked to turn their smart phones and other devices on silent mode and not use them during class time. Laptops are to be used for note-taking, not chatting and emailing during class time. Student distractions that take away from the overall class learning environment are strongly discouraged and will be assessed in class participation performance. As part of the learning process, students will be asked to participate in a series of in-class simulations, problem-solving tasks and at least one field assignment. These assignments will also comprise your course participation grade. 15%
Book AssessmentBook Assessment (10% of total grade): Students are asked to assess the assigned book for the course in 2-3 double-spaced pages (1000-1500 words). These book assessments must address the political issues in the text and connect these issues to the course material. The review must develop an argument and reflect your own personal engagement with the material. Assessments will be evaluated based on their individuality, clarity, presentation, argument and knowledge of the issues in the book. The book will be discussed at the optional course dinner on Wednesday, February 6th. This assignment must be delivered through the protocol outlined above and is due on Thursday, February 14th. 10%
Reading Reflection PiecesReading Reflection Pieces (10% of total grade, 5% each assignment), These TWO reviews of 1000 words each will draw on the assigned course reading and class lecture. For each review, students are asked to prepare an analytical commentary on the issues raised in the reading and class discussion. Students should refer to at least two readings and develop an argument. The reflection pieces must be turned in within two days of the class session by 5pm through hard copy and email. Moodle copies are not necessary for this assignment. The first reflection should be turned in by March 8 (Week 7). Students are responsible for finishing both of these assignments before the 14th week of the course, by April 26th.10%
Oral PresentationReading Oral Presentation (10% of the total grade). Students are asked to present one course reading before Week 14 of the semester (by April 24th). Students will sign up in the second week of the course and readings will be on a first-signed up basis on the CHOICE program in MOODLE. All of the presentations should be no more than 5 minutes (with five minutes for potential questions), include a one-page written synopsis of the main questions and findings of the reading as well as the student’s own commentary. The written synopsis is due by 5pm of the class session day through hard copy and email to the professor. Any power point presentation should be forwarded the midnight before. Strict time limits will be imposed. Students will be assessed on their ability to present material clearly and succinctly, the quality of their synopsis as well as their understanding of the reading and comparative case study selected. The chosen reading cannot coincide with the same session of a reflection assignment. 10%
Analytical PaperShort Analytical Paper (30% of total grade) Students are asked to submit an original paper of 2000-2500 words concisely examining one of the issues developed in the course. The paper must apply a clear theoretical question to a case study. It must develop an argument and use concrete evidence. Further guidelines on this paper will be provided. This assignment must be turned in through the assignment protocol noted above by 5pm on the due date, Tuesday April 16th. No late papers will be accepted. 30%
Final ExaminationFinal Examination (25% of the final grade): Students will be required to sit for a final examination at the end of term. This examination will include identifications, multiple choice questions and short answer questions that assess the comprehension of the course reading and class discussions. The test will include both objective and subjective questions that test knowledge and the ability to formulate analytical responses.25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



The assignments in this course develop knowledge and skills, with the aim of making students more confident and better prepared to address real world problems they will face. Simultaneously, they introduce students to contemporary problems in the world and teach core material associated with political science. Texts and course material for this course are purposely selected for accessibility. Teaching materials include novels, the course website, in-class simulations and core disciplinary reading material.  


Students are encouraged to meet one-on-one with the professor to discuss course material and their assignments. The professor holds regular office hours where students can meet her. Students are also welcome to schedule an appointment, but should provide at least two different alternatives to be accommodated for a meeting outside of office hours. Students are encouraged to book their time early. During term, students should expect a response to their emails within three business days. 

Protocol for Handing in Written Assignments: Students must turn in all written assignments three ways. This assignment must be 1) emailed to the professor, 2) with a hard copy delivered to the political science assignment basket in front of Mathematics Chair’s office on the 2nd floor of the Tiber campus by 5pm on the due date and 3) an electronic copy delivered on through MOODLE to TURNITIN. This will require that you set up your own MOODLE account.


Class sessions will be held for two and a half hours per week. Each session will combine lectures, discussions, and group activities focused on the assigned topics.   


Students will be expected to read all the required reading before class. All the required course reading will be available in the Library on reserve or available on MYJCU.

Please note that additional articles related to the case studies may be added later in the semester.


Patrick H. O’Neill. Essentials of Comparative Politics. 6th Edition. (New York: W.P. Norton Company, 2017). Please be sure to get the 6th edition if possible. ISBN-13: 978-0393624588

Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. Billion Dollar Whale. (London: Hachette Books, 2018) ISBN-13: 978-0316453479

Students are asked to read the NY Times before each class and regularly during the term.


WEEK 1 (January 20-26) Introducing Comparative Politics

Session 1 (January 21) Course Introduction

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 1.

Session 2 (January 23) Building Theory: Comparative Method Applied

Peter Katzenstein, Adam Przeworski, Theda Skocpol, et al. (1995) ‘The Role of Theory in Comparative Politics’ World Politics 48/1:1-25.

WEEK 2 (January 27-February 2) State Formation and Types States 

Session 3 (January 28) State Formation Trajectories

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 2, pp. 30-46

Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Decay. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), Chapters 27-28, pp. 399-435

Case Studies: England and Africa

Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993), Chapter 7, pp. 413-32 

Jeffrey Herbst. States and Power in Africa, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), pp. 11-31, 251-72.

Session 4 (January 30) From Predatory to Rentier: Types of States

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 2, pp. 46-61.

Case Study: Saudi Arabia

Paul Aarts and Carolien Roulants, Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom in Peril, (London: Hurst and Co, 2015) pp. 1-36, 135-141

Dexter Filkins, “A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East,” New Yorker, April 9, 2018. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/09/a-saudi-princes-quest-to-remake-the-middle-east

WEEK 3 (February 3-9) Political Culture and Religion

Session 5 (February 4) Clash of Civilizations

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 3, pp 77-90, and Chapter 7

Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996), pp. 192-198.

Case Study: ISIS

Joby Warrick. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS. (New York: Anchor, Penguin, 2016), pp. 267-307. 

Session 6: (February 6) ‘Western’ and ‘Asian Values’

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 3, pp. 91-94.

Amartya Sen, “Democracy as a Universal Value,” Journal of Democracy, 10 (July 1999): 3-17      

Mark Thompson, “Whatever Happened to ‘Asian Values’?” Journal of Democracy 12 (October 2001): 154-165

Christian Welzel and Russell Dalton, “Cultural Change in Asia and Beyond,” Asian Journal of Comparative Politics (June 2017), 112-132

Case Study: Singapore

Bilahari Kausikan, “Governance that Works,” Journal of Democracy, 8 (April 1997): 24-34.           

***Course Dinner Discussion on Wednesday, February 6th, 7:30pm***

WEEK 4 (February 10-16) Nationalism and Leadership

Session 7 (February 11): Nationalism and Ethnicity

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 3, pp. 62-76.

Sara Rich Dorman. “The Varieties of Nationalism in Africa,” Current History, (May 2015), pp. 189-193.

Brendan O’Leary. “Europe’s Embers of Nationalism,” Current History, (March 2015)

Case Studies: Nigeria and Catalan

Ebenezer Obadare, “Perspective: A Nigerian President’s Disappointing Return,” Current History, (May 2017), Vol 116, No. 790, pp. 194-96

Diego Muro, “The Stillbirth of the Catalan Republic,” Current History, (March 2018), Vol 117, pp. 83-88

Session 8: (February 13) Role of Leadership, Ideas and Charisma

Max Weber. “The Three Pure Types of Legitimate Authority, Legal Authority with a

Bureaucratic Administrative Staff, Traditional Authority, Charismatic Authority, The

Routinization of Charisma, “The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, (N.Y.: The Free Press, 1984). pp. 328-336, 341-346, 358-373.

Mussolini, “The Doctrine of Fascism,” http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/reading/germany/mussolini.htm

The Futurist Manifesto, http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html and paintings, http://www.cartridgesave.co.uk/news/20-dynamic-paintings-from-the-italianfuturists/

Hitler,“Triumph des Willens”  https://youtu.be/vBF6d4xyq40

Session 9 (February 15. Make-up day for April 22) Conducting Research 

Library Session for Comparative Politics

***Book Assessment Due, Thursday, February 14th by 5pm***

WEEK 5 (February 17-23) Political Mobilization and Political Participation 

Session 10 (February 18): Social Movements
Charles Tilly and Leslie Wood. Social Movements, 1768-2008. (New York: Paradigm Publishers, 2009), pp. 1-37

Case Study: #MeToo

Sophie Gilbert, “The Movement of #MeToo,” The Atlantic, October 16, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/

Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman and Haley Sweetland Edwards, “Time Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers” Time, December 6, 2017. http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/

Read two of the essays at: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/one-year-of-metoo

 Session 11 (February 20):  Political Parties and Party Systems

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 5, pp. 158-68.

Scott Mainwaring, Political Parties and Latin America: Institutionalization, Decay and Collapse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 17-33, 164-200

Case Study: Brazil            

WEEK 6 (February 24-March 2) Understanding Democracy

Session 12 (February 25): Defining and Measuring Democracy

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 5, pp. 136-142, 168-9.

Philippe Schmitter and Terry Karl, "What Democracy Is...and Is Not," Journal of Democracy 2 (July 1991): 75-88

Larry Diamond, Emily Green and William Gallery “Measuring Democracy,” in Larry Diamond, In Search of Democracy, (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 46-75.

Session 13 (February 27): Political Institutions and Democratic Governance

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 5, pp. 148-157.

Larry Diamond and Leonardo Morlino. “The Quality of Democracy: An Overview.” Journal of Democracy, 15 (October 2004): 20-31.

Case Study: India

Ashutosh Varshney, “India’s Democracy at 70: Growth, Inequality and Nationalism,” Journal of Democracy, (July 2017), 28/3: 41-51

WEEK 7 (March 3-9) Elections and Representation 

Session 14 (March 4): Voting Behavior and Elections

Justin Fisher et. al. The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behavior and Public Opinion. (London: Routledge 2018), Chapter 2 (Hutchings and Jefferson), pp. 21-29 and Chapter 10 (Evans and Ball), pp. 123-136.

David M. Farrell, “Campaign Strategies and Tactics,” in Lawrence Le Du et. Al. Comparing Democracies: Elections and Voting in Comparative Perspective, (New York: Sage Publications, 2002), Chapter 6

Session 15 (March 6) Representation

Jan Teorell, Marino Torcal and Jose Ramon Montero. “Political Participation: Mapping the Terrain,” In Jan van Deth, Jose Ramon Montero and Anders Westholm (eds.) Citizenship and Involvement in European Democracies, (London: Routledge, 2007), Ch. 13, pp. 334-35

Christian Achen and Larry Bartels, Democracy for Realists: Why Elections do not Produce Responsive Government (Princeton, 2016), Chapter 1.

Russell J. Dalton and Christian Welzel (eds.), The Civic Culture Transformed: From Allegiant to Assertive Citizens (Cambridge, 2014), Chapter 1.

Session 16 (March 8 Make-up day May 1) Field exercise

***Students must have turned in at least one Reading Reflection by March 8th***

WEEK 8 (March 10-16) Spring Break No Class

WEEK 9 (March 17-23) Learning How to Do Fieldwork

Session 17 (March 18) Field exercise Team Follow-up

Session 18 (March 20) No Class (Make-up earlier in the semester)

WEEK 10 (March 24-30) Regime Change and Democratization

Session 19 (March 25) Early Waves of Democratization

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 5, pp. 143-47.

Philippe C. Schmitter. “Twenty-Five Years, Fifteen Findings.” Journal of Democracy, 21 (January 2010): 17-28.

Case Study: Malaysia

Session 20 (March 27) Democratic Decay

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 8
Case Studies: Eastern Europe and Russia

Holly Case, “Perspective: Shape-Shifting Illiberalism in East-Central Europe,” Current History, Vol. 116 (March 2017), pp. 112-116.

Steven Fish “What is Putinism?” Journal of Democracy, 28/4. (October 2017). p, 61-75.

Samuel A. Greene. “The End of Ambiguity in Russia,” Current History (October 2015), pp. 251-258.

Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes, “Imitation and its Discontents,” Journal of Democracy, Vol 29/3, July 2018, pp. 117-

WEEK 11 (March 31-April 6) Populism, Polarization and Democratic Deconsolidation

Session 21 (April 1) Populism and Disengagement

Jan Werner-Muller, What is Populism? (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), pp. 41-74.

Case Studies: Italy and the Philippines

Bertjan Verbeek and Andrej Zaslove. “Italy: A Case of Mutating Populism?” Democratization 23, 2 (2015) pp. 304-323.

Nicole Curato, “Politics of Anxiety, Politics of Hope: Penal Populism and Duterte’s Rise to Power,” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 35, 3 (2017), pp. 91–109.

Session 22 (April 3) Political Polarization and Democratic Deconsolidation

Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk, “The Signs of Democratic Deconsolidation,” Journal of Democracy (January 2017), 28/2: 5-16

Thomas Carothers and Richard Young, “Is Democracy Dying? Seeing through the Boom and Gloom,” Foreign Affairs (April 2017) https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2017-04-11/democracy-not-dying)

Paul Howe, “Eroding Norms and Democratic Consolidation,” Journal of Democracy, 28/4, (October 2017), pp. 15-29.

WEEK 12 (April 7-13) Authoritarian Regimes           

Session 23 (April 8) Types of Authoritarian Regimes

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 6

Case Studies: Egypt and Thailand

Emad El-Din Shahin. “Egypt’s Revolution Turned on its Head,” Current History (December 2015), 114: 343-348

Claudio Sopranzetti, “The Tightening Authoritarian Grip on Thailand,” Current History, (September 2017), 116/791: 230-34

Session 24 (April 10) Authoritarian Resilience

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 9

Alexander Cooley, “Countering Democratic Norms,” Journal of Democracy, 26 (October 2015):49-63.

Case Studies: China

Minxin Pei. “Transition in China? More Likely Than You Think.” Journal of Democracy, 27/4, 2016. pp. 5-20.

Susan Shirk. “China in Xi’s “New Era”: The Return to Personalistic Rule.” Journal of Democracy, Volume 29, Number 2 April 2018, pp. 22-36.

WEEK 13 (April 14-20) Inequality and Welfare

Session 25 (April 15): Inequality

Francis Fukuyama. “Dealing with Inequality,” Journal of Democracy, 22 (July 2011), 79-89.

Larry Bartels, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), Introduction, pp. 1-28.                       

Alfred Stepan and Juan J. Linz. “Comparative Perspectives on Inequality and the Quality of Democracy in the United States. Perspectives on Politics, 9(4) (2011): 841-856.

Session 26 (April 17): Welfare

Giovanni Carbone. “The Consequences of Democracy.” Journal of Democracy, 20 (April 2009): 123-137.

Guiliano Bonoli. “Europe’s Social Safety Net Under Pressures,” Current History, (March 2016), 115:102-107.

*** Short Analytical Paper Due, Tuesday April 16th by 5pm***

WEEK 14 (April 21-27) Governance, Development and Globalization

April 22nd No Class. Holiday

Session 27 (April 24) Development & Good Governance            

Patrick H. O’Neill, Essentials of Comparative Politics, Chapter 10

Jeffery Sachs, “The Development Challenge,” Foreign Affairs, March/April, 2005.

William Easterly, “Was Development Assistance a Mistake?” http://williameasterly.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/50_easterly_wasdevelopmentassistanceamistake_prp.pdf

Susan Rose Ackerman Corruption: A study in political economy. (New York: Academic Press, 2013), pp. 211-233.

“The Wages of Sin” The Economist, January 30th 2016 https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2016/01/28/the-wages-of-sin

***Last Week for Reading Reflections and Oral Presentations***

WEEK 15 (April 28-May 4) Course Reflections and Review

Session 28 (April 29) Globalization and the Internet

Nathaniel Persily, “Can Democracy Survive the Internet,” Journal of Democracy,
(April 2017), 28/3: 63-76.

Andrew Chadwick, The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power (Second Edition)

(New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), Chapter 10 on Trump Campaign.

“Do social media threaten democracy?” The Economist, Nov 4, 2017. https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21730871-facebook-google-and-twitter-were-supposed-save-politics-good-information-drove-out

May 1st Holiday No Class.

WEEK 16 (May 5-11) Final Examination TBD