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Comparative Politics is one of the oldest fields of political analysis, forming the basis for much of the writings of political philosophers throughout the ages. It was only in the nineteenth century, however, that the comparative method was first formally proposed as a means for elevating political thought to the level of a science. But like any field of intellectual endeavor, there is no consensus among those who study comparative politics concerning what the field is about. In particular, comparativists have found themselves pulled between two poles: that of the area-specialist and that of the social scientist. In some ways this tension is paralleled by two equally pervasive tensions: between those who are primarily inductive in their approach and those preferring a more deductive orientation; as well as a tension between those who are primarily oriented toward qualitative rather than quantitative methods. To be sure, some specialized knowledge is necessary to penetrate the politics of any society. That society-specific knowledge is all the more important when examining the politics of a foreign country. If one of the purposes of comparing politics is to escape ethnocentrisms, then area-specific knowledge is that body of knowledge which allows one to transcend the boundaries of one's own culture. It is sometimes tempting in an American university setting to define comparative politics as the study of foreign (i.e., non-American) political systems. Indeed, many comparativists (particularly those subscribing wholly to an area-studies understanding of the field) view their roles as interpreters of the politics of foreign cultures. But interesting and significant work has been conducted studying American politics within a comparative perspective, and given the culture-transcending purposes of comparison, it seems proper to include American politics within the boundaries of the field as well. Moreover, the theoretical concerns of comparativists are in no way confined to the boundaries of any one culture, and even those who are inspired primarily by a desire to better understand other places and cultures often find that to do so most effectively they need to orient their primarily inductive empirical work along broadly comparative and deductive theoretical axes.

Research Groups and Projects


Faculty in Comparative Politics

  John Ahlquist Yoshiko Herrera Nadav Shelef
  Rikhil Bhavnani Noam Lupu Erica Simmons
  Christina Ewig Melanie Manion Scott Straus
  Scott Gehlbach Nils Ringe Aili Tripp
  Kathryn Hendley Michael Schatzberg

Dissertation and Paper Awards for Comparative Politics Graduate Students

Student Dissertation and Paper Award
Adam Auerbach Best Fieldwork Award, APSA Organized Section on Comparative Democratization (2013)
Evgeny Finkel Gabriel Almond Award, APSA prize for best dissertation in the field of comparative politics (2013)
Lauren McCarthy
Edward S. Corwin Award, APSA prize for best dissertation in the field of public law (2012)
Brendon Kendhammer
Aaron Wildavsky Dissertation Award, APSA Religion and Politics Section (2011)
Timo Weishaupt
Ernst B. Haas Award, APSA European Politics and Society section (2009)
Jennifer Brick
Best Student Paper, American Institute for Afghanistan Studies (2008)


Comparative Graduate Resources


Courses in Comparative Politics - Fall 2013-2014

106 - Introduction to Comparative Politics

Faculty: Yoshiko Herrera      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

186 - Introduction to Comparative Politics(Honors)

Faculty: Nils Ringe      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

222 - Introduction to East Asian Civilization

Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

244 - SE Asia:Vietnam to Philippines

Instructors: Cullinane, Michael      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

252 - Civilizations of India-Modern Period

Instructors: Elder, Joseph      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

277 - Africa: Introductory Survey

Instructors: Kosesh, Neil      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

318 - Comparative Study of Genocide

Faculty: Scott Straus      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

338 - European Union: Politics & Political Economy

Faculty: Nils Ringe      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

401 - Selected Topics-Poli Sci: Political Economy of Development

Faculty: Rikhil Bhavnani      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

401 - Selected Topics-Poli Sci: Comparative Foreign Policy

Faculty: Jessica Weeks      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 005

616 - Comparative Politics of Sport

Faculty: Michael Schatzberg      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

630 - Latin-American Politics

Faculty: Noam Lupu      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

633 - Russian Politics

Faculty: Kathryn Hendley      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

695 - Prosem: Topics in Poli Sci: Gender, Race & Sexuality in Latin American Politics

Faculty: Christina Ewig      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 003

804 - Interdisciplinary West European Area Studies Smr

Instructors: Potter, Pamela      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

840 - Comparative Political Economy

Faculty: John Ahlquist      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

856 - Field Smr-Comparative Politics

Faculty: Yoshiko Herrera      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

862 - State&Society-Comparative Perspective

Faculty: Aili Tripp      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

948 - Smr: Topics in Comp Politics: Political Inequalities

Faculty: Rikhil Bhavnani      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

948 - Smr: Topics in Comp Politics: Comparative Law

Faculty: Kathryn Hendley      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 002

949 - Smr-Post Communist Politics

Faculty: Yoshiko Herrera      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

982 - Smr-Latin American Politics Area

Instructors: Stern, Steve      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001

987 - Comparative Politics Colloquium

Faculty: Scott Straus      Field: Comparative Politics
Section Number: 001