Comparative Politics Field Seminar

Term: Spring 2012

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 6349

This course is an advanced graduate seminar in comparative politics. It provides a critical historical survey of its leading intellectual debates in order to prepare Ph.D. candidates for the qualifying exam and their doctoral research.

Comparative politics is an extraordinarily diverse field in terms of its problems, theories and methods. Hence the seminar will address a range of significant real-world phenomena, from state formation, revolution and democratization to the dynamics of electoral competition, social movements and late development, amongst other topics. Theoretically, we will examine various analytical paradigms to study these phenomena, including structural, cultural and actor-oriented perspectives, as well as hybrid versions of the latter. Finally, the seminar analyzes the variety of methods (informed by quantitative, qualitative and mixed research designs) used by comparativists to study politics at different levels (from intensive case studies and small-N comparisons to large data sets), which reflect pragmatic research considerations as well as distinct philosophical approaches to explanation in the human sciences. In doing so, the seminar seeks to highlight the advantages, shortcomings and implications of studying particular questions from different conceptual, theoretical and methodological perspectives.

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