Victor A. Menaldo
POL S 505
Modern theories, approaches, and methods in the study of comparative politics.
This seminar is designed to serve four goals:
(1) To familiarize students with the biggest questions in comparative politics and the most popular or promising answers. By extension, to expose students to many of the leading theories in the field. We focus on the emergence of the state and its collapse, differences between states, the advent of nations and nationalism, political cleavages, and regime types. In this syllabus, I direct students to the germane literatures on these questions. Throughout the course, students will be able to connect their own research to the broader concerns in the discipline.
The weekly themes center on major outcomes of interest. The readings differ in terms of the theories they advance to account for variation across places, or within places over time, in these outcomes. In seeking to explain variation in the emergence of the state and its collapse, differences between states, the advent of nations and nationalism, political cleavages, and regime types, this course is centered on so-called macro sociological and microfoundational perspectives. I seek to expose students to both classical books and articles that share these foci, as well as a selection of works at the vanguard of comparative politics. (2) To provide examples that can prepare students to write and submit papers to leading political science and comparative politics journals. The leading journals include the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, International Studies Quarterly and Comparative Studies in Society and History. Most of the articles assigned were published in these journals. Students should peruse these journals regularly. This will allow students to both keep up with trends in the field and be made aware of the types of contributions that are now being made to comparative politics.
(3) To familiarize students with different research designs and strategies. It is a point of fact that methodological styles in the discipline are diverse. An important theme that will recur throughout the course will be whether these diverse styles are equally consistent with the requirements of sound causal inference or whether they advance different objectives.
(4) To cultivate seminar and verbal skills. Students will write short response papers that will be shared with the class and partake in critical discussions of the presented papers. A considerable amount of time within the seminar will be devoted to paper presentations/defense.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading