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COURSE NAME: "Comparative Politics"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Summer Session II 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Jon Eastwood
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MTWTH 11:10-1:00 PM
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

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 an introduction to the field of comparative politics, often understood to be one of the four “subfields” of political science.  In it, we will learn how to ask and answer questions about political outcomes based on comparing “cases,” which will often be states or subnational geo-political units.  Scholars in the field of comparative politics want to know the answers to questions about why democracy and democratization sometimes succeed and sometimes do not, the conditions under which economic development takes place, how shared identities (such as national identity) affect political institutions, and many other such matters.


In this course, we will carry out a comprehensive survey of the field, focusing theoriesand evidence.  We meet 4x/week for 2 hours each.  On a typical day, the first hour is lecture, drawing on the reading from the main text. The second hour will be discussion of excerpts from the reader (Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings, see below).  During the final (fifth) week, we will focus on the comparative politics of Italy, asking how various theories and concepts from the first weeks of the course may apply to the country in which we are studying.


At the end of this session, students will have developed their

·     understanding of major theories of comparative politics

·     ability to carry out small-N comparisons so as to build theory in response to major questions of comparative politics

·     knowledge of major patterns in the development of institutions of 21stcentury politics.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and CasesTyler Dickovick and Jonathan EastwoodOxford University Press9780190854867 3rd edition
Comparative Politics: Classical and Contemporary ReadingsTyler Dickovick and Jonathan EastwoodOxford University Press9780199730957  

Class Participation 20
Midterm examTake home essay exam, open book.30
Final examClosed book exam on official final exam day.30
Week 5 Research ReportAssignment provided separately20

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.


Schedule (NOTE: the two books above are written in parallel with identical chapter/section names but complementary content.  Every chapter name on the schedule below refers to BOTH sets of readings):


Week 1 – Introducing the field and major concepts


Session 1, Chapter 1: The Comparative Approach: An Introduction


Session 2, Chapter 2: Theories, Hypotheses, and Evidence 


Session 3, Chapter 3: The State


Session 4, Chapter 4: Political Economy 


Week 2 – Development, Democracy, and Authoritarianism


Session 5, Chapter 5: Development 


Session 6, Chapter 6: Democracy and Democratization


Session 7, Chapter 7: Authoritarian Regimes and Democratic Breakdown


Session 8, Chapter 8: Constitutions and Constitutional Design 


Week 3 – Political Institutions


Session 9, Chapter 9: Legislatures and Legislative Elections


Session 10, Chapter 10: Executives 


Session 11, Chapter 11: Political Parties, Party Systems, and Interest Groups


Session 12, Chapter 12: Revolutions and Contention 


Week 4 – Politics, Society, and Culture


Session 13, Chapter 13: Nationalism and National Identity


Session 14, Chapter 14: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender


Session 15, Chapter 15: Ideology and Religion in Modern Politics


Session 16, Chapter 16: Comparative Politics and International Relations

Week 5 - Italian Politics in Comparative Perspective

Sessions 17 - 20.  During this week we focus on research questions in the comparative politics of Italy.  Students may examine questions about Italian state formation, unitarist politics, coalition governments and the electoral system, recent populist movements, and other themes, always drawing on the theories, methods, and cases discussed in the first 4 weeks of the course.  Class will combine discussion with intensive workshopping.