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Бакалаврская программа «Политология и мировая политика»

Comparative Politics

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс обязательный
Когда читается:
3-й курс, 1, 2 модуль


Course Syllabus


The course offers an introduction to the core concepts in comparative politics and their empirical applications. The course consists of two principal parts: the first 7 topics focus on democracies, while the second 7 weeks are dedicated to autocratic and hybrid regimes. In the first half of the course, those varieties within democratic regimes – such as the difference between parliamentary and presidential systems, consensual and majoritarian democracies, etc. – are discussed which served as the inspiration for classical works and theories in comparative politics. The second half of the course … In conclusion, the course familiarizes students with the foundations of regime-level and institutional comparisons, and enhances their understanding on the relationship between fundamental concepts and their various empirical manifestations.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main objective is getting general idea of comparative political studies
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Able to conduct professional activities internationally
  • Student is capable of posing research problems relevant to the study of political phenomena and political processes; setting particular research tasks; and putting together a research design
  • Student is capable of choosing research methods appropriate for resolving the professional tasks
  • Student is capable of retrieving, collecting, processing and analyzing information relevant for achieving goals in the professional field
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Overview on political systems: what makes a regime ‘democratic’?
    During the first week of the course, one of its central, overarching questions is introduced: what are the conceptual differences between the scholarly understandings of ‘democracy’ and ‘autocracy’? During the lecture, a few scholarly attempts for drawing a conceptual borderline between are introduced, with a particular emphasis on issues addressed through the course (e.g. representative institutions, separation-of-powers). The seminar session will be dedicated to the empirical application of the various conceptual approaches.
  • Presidential and parliamentary systems
    The second week of the course is dedicated to the two major ‘macro’ level arrangements in democratic regimes, presidential and parliamentary systems. The lectures and the seminars address their origins and core features, the primary contrasts between them, as well as the conditions leading various countries to choose one or another.
  • Party systems and coalitions
    Besides reviewing established typologies of party systems in comparative politics, a greater emphasis is placed on coalition politics, introducing the types of coalitions, the rationales behind forming their various types, and the connections between party systems and coalitions.
  • Constitutional politics and non-majoritarian institutions
    During the fourth week, the inter-institutional dynamics in democratic regimes is under scrutiny again. Nevertheless, here the non-elected, or ‘technocratic’ bodies will be addressed, with a particular emphasis on their legitimacy and broader impact on the functioning of democratic regimes.
  • Federalism
    Following the classes on institutions structuring power horizontally, the vertical dimension of the same phenomenon will be addressed. These classes will touch upon the major forms of federalism, its impact on contemporary democracies, and the recent trends in the research of this field.
  • Varieties of democracy
    In an overview of the previous weeks, the seminal work of Arend Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy is discussed, with the Dutch scholar’s famous typology of majoritarian and consensual democracies. Beyond discussing the typology and its reception (mostly during the lecture), the seminars will be dedicated to two main issues. First, to what extent are the institutional choices discussed during the previous weeks interlinked to one another? Second, do varieties of democracy make a difference in terms of the policy outcomes they deliver, the political culture they foster, the social climate in which they function – or are they rather results of these surrounding circumstances?
  • Democracy, diversity, and power-sharing
    Closely linked to the discussion on consensus democracies, the so-called ‘stronger medicine’ recommended by Lijphart, consociational democracy will be discussed, together with its critiques and alternatives, and a particular emphasis on centripetal majoritarianism. Furthermore, as a broader conceptual backdrop, the debate between integrationist and accommodationalist approaches to managing social diversity will also be introduced and discussed.
  • Authoritarian regimes and the problems of authoritarian rule
    The second part of this course is dedicated to the study of authoritarian regimes. Week 8 starts with a discussion on the types of authoritarian regimes. There are multiple ways to classify authoritarian regimes. We will focus on the idea of ‘support coalitions’. Secondly, the following questions will be introduced: What are the fundamental problems of authoritarian rule? What are the potential sources of conflict? The lecture will introduce the two fundamental problems of authoritarian rule for dictators: a) Authoritarian power-sharing, and b) Authoritarian control.
  • Authoritarian power-sharing and the selectorate theory
    This lecture will expand on the idea of authoritarian power-sharing and how intra-elite conflicts get resolved under different authoritarian regimes. The concept of winning coalitions and the selectorate theory are introduced.
  • Civil-military relations, coups, and coup-proofing
    Every authoritarian leader has to acknowledge, to varying degrees, the possibility of a coup against his rule. Most of the time, these coups are attempted by the military actors within the regime. This lecture focuses on the theories discussing the reasons and propensity of coups in different regimes, and the coup-proofing strategies adopted by leaders to secure their survival.
  • Authoritarian control
    As discussed in Week 8, the second fundamental problem for the authoritarian leader is the control of the masses from revolting against the regime. For this purpose, the autocrats use a mixture of three strategies: cooptation, legitimation, and repression. The lecture will explain these strategies in detail, with country examples when relevant. It will also focus on the role of media as a tool of authoritarian control.
  • Resource curse and rentier states
    Natural resource wealth is a game-changer for nations, and it is hotly debated in the literature whether it is a blessing or a curse. The resource curse theory is a set of propositions arguing that resources, and especially oil, can deteriorate the political institutions, strengthen autocrats, and instigate civil conflict. This lecture will focus on the specific problems of resource-rich states and the reasons why most of them remain autocratic.
  • Colonial legacies and the challenges of post-colonialism
    The institutions of imperialism and colonialism produced long-lasting legacies that affect the fate of post-colonial countries to this day. These countries have some common political, social, and economic traits that affect the performance of the regimes. This lecture focuses on the puzzles and prospects for development and democracy in post-colonial states.
  • Political violence: civil war, ethnic conflict, terrorism
    Although political violence is not unique to authoritarian regimes, these regimes are often associated with a higher likelihood of conflict. Political violence comes in many forms including civil war, ethnic conflict, and terrorism. This lecture will discuss these different types of violence, the determinants of conflict onset and conflict duration, and the strategies of terrorism and counterterrorism.
  • Democracy or autocracy: Does it make a difference?
    The topic of this lecture is to investigate the role of regime type as a main independent variable on various outcomes. Based on the material covered in this course throughout the two modules, the lecturers will discuss the following questions: Does regime type make a difference to material well-being? Do democracies or autocracies produce higher economic growth? What is the effect of regime type on government performance? The students will also be encouraged to draw their own conclusions based on the empirical findings from the literature.
  • Position paper
  • Film analysis
  • Final exam
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In-class Participation
    • Meaningful engagement with the mandatory readings demonstrated • Own critical approach to the reading and lecture materials elucidated • By bringing in concepts and empirical examples from other fields of study, the student demonstrates a complex understanding of the introduced concepts • Contribution to the class dynamics: by reflecting on earlier points and comments, students can again demonstrate a practical understanding of the discussed concepts, as well as their abilities to understand the dynamics of ongoing discussions. Conversely, redundant and self-serving comments will lower the participation grade. • In case someone finds participation in discussions challenging, there is also an opportunity to send questions and comments related to the mandatory readings before the respective class sessions.
  • non-blocking Position paper
    The position paper and the film analysis should be submitted in the different parts of the course (e.g. if someone submits her position paper during weeks 1-7, the film analysis should be submitted during weeks 8-14 and vice versa). The position paper shall be a problem-based, argumentative text demonstrating the student’s capacity to identify academically relevant problems, finding avenues to tackle it, and communicating her/his arguments in a persuasive, transparent, and succinct manner. The position paper should also demonstrate the student’s firm understanding on the differences between epistemic and methodological traditions. The position paper’s extent shall not exceed 1,000 words, including foot/endnotes, excluding the bibliography. The review part of the essay shall not exceed 40% of the position paper. The deadline for sending a position paper linked to each specific topic is the beginning of the following seminar session. Essay structure: 1. Short and general formulation of answer, outline of structure 2. Review of relevant claims in the literature 3. Critical review of relevant positions. 4. Core of argument, supported by analytical and/or empirical claims. 5. Conclusion, summarizing the core points of the argument.
  • non-blocking Open-book exam
    The final examination covers the materials from lectures and mandatory readings of all the course content.
  • non-blocking Film analysis
    For this assignment, the students will be asked to pick a topic from the syllabus. Each topic has questions about political processes and accompanying movies assigned. The students should watch the movies with these questions in mind. Then, they should write a critical film analysis, answering the given questions based on the film. The analysis shall not exceed 1,000 words, including foot/endnotes, excluding the bibliography. The grade will be based on the clarity and relevance of the answers to the given questions, and the depth of understanding of the subject matter. Originality of the analysis will also distinguish excellent answers from good answers. Clarity and relevance means how well the student can connect the ideas in these movies with the works that were studied during the lectures and seminars. Originality means whether the student can offer a fresh perspective to connect these ideas. The following points are important: - The analysis should answer all of the questions listed for a topic on the assignment. - In the answer, students should use the comparative politics concepts learned in this course (e.g. representation, veto player, authoritarian control, etc.) to answer the questions with specific examples/anecdotes/analysis from the movies. The students are NOT expected to criticize the movie artistically, but rather to consider its political and theoretical implications. - The analysis should cite scholarly sources whenever possible. There should be at least five scholarly sources (books, articles, etc.) cited to back up the arguments.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.2 * Film analysis + 0.1 * In-class Participation + 0.4 * Open-book exam + 0.3 * Position paper


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Clark, W. R. (DE-588)13711754X, (DE-576)302153160. (2013). Principles of comparative politics / William Roberts Clark; Matt Golder; Sona Nadenichek Golder. Los Angeles [u.a.]: CQ Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edswao&AN=edswao.359208835
  • Comparative politics ed. by Daniele Caramani. (2011).

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Erica Frantz. (2018). Authoritarianism : What Everyone Needs to Know®. Oxford University Press.
  • Newton, K., & Deth, J. W. van. (2010). Foundations of Comparative Politics : Democracies of the Modern World: Vol. 2nd ed. Cambridge eText.