This seminar is aimed primarily at graduate students planning to take doctoral exams in comparative politics. It provides a critical survey of the field of comparative politics, tracing the intellectual history of the field, examining shifts in conceptual frameworks and research traditions, and comparing alternative methodological approaches. The first half of the course generally examines how processes of political, economic, and social change have been theorized in the social sciences from the mid-19th century to the present. In this process, particular attention is paid to the bifurcation between theories that emphasize the "universal" (e.g. the homogenizing effects of specific processes or variables) and the "particular" (e.g. the persistence of distinctive historical legacies and trajectories). Since this bifurcation is reinforced by distinct styles and methods of research, the seminar also probes the recent battles between rational-choice, cultural, and structuralist scholars, while considering the trade-offs between varieties of formal, quantitative, and qualitative methods. In the second half, the focus shifts to the range of substantive problems investigated by scholars in the field of comparative politics. These topics cover the complex relations among nations, states and societies; the origins, consolidation, and patterns of democratic governance; political economy in relation to development processes and social policies; the intersection of international/global economy and domestic politics; the dynamics of revolutions and social movements; and alternative problematiques constructed from the point of view of real actors such as workers, women, and local communities. In all cases, As a whole, the course is designed to provide an introduction to important issues and debates that comparativists have regularly engaged in; to help you understand the assumptions behind, and differences between, particular approaches, methods, and styles of research; to examine whether current debates are spurring new or better research in a given field in light of past approaches; and to gauge whether there has been progress, fragmentation, or stagnation in the field of comparative politics as a whole.
Section 301 - SEM
T 0300PM-0600PM

University of Pennsylvania
208 S. 37th Street, Room 217
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215
Phone: (215) 898-7641

Anne Norton Chair
Matthew Levendusky Graduate Chair
Marc Meredith Undergraduate Chair