|Part of the Politics series|
Comparative politics is a field in political science characterized either by the use of the comparative method or other empirical methods to explore politics both within and between countries. Substantively, this can include questions relating to political institutions, political behavior, conflict, and the causes and consequences of economic development. When applied to specific fields of study, comparative politics may be referred to by other names, such as comparative government (the comparative study of forms of government).
Comparative politics is the systematic study and comparison of the diverse political systems in the world. It is comparative in searching to explain why different political systems have similarities or differences and how developmental changes came to be between them. It is systematic in that it looks for trends, patterns, and regularities among these political systems. The research field takes into account political systems throughout the globe, focusing on themes such as democratization, globalization, and integration. New theories and approaches have been used in political science in the last 40 years thanks to comparative politics. Some of these focus on political culture, dependency theory, developmentalism, corporatism, indigenous theories of change, comparative political economy, state-society relations, and new institutionalism. Some examples of comparative politics are studying the differences between presidential and parliamentary systems, democracies and dictatorships, parliamentary systems in different countries, multi-party systems such as Canada and two-party systems such as the United States. Comparative politics must be conducted at a specific point in time, usually the present. A researcher cannot compare systems from different periods of time; it must be static.
While historically the discipline explored broad questions in political science through between-country comparisons, contemporary comparative political science primarily uses subnational comparisons. More recently, there has been a significant increase in the interest of subnational comparisons and the benefit it has on comparative politics. We would know far less about major credible issues within political science if it weren't for subnational research. Subnational research contributes important methodological, theoretical, and substantive ideas to the study of politics. Important developments often obscured by a national-level focus are easier to decipher through subnational research. An example could be regions inside countries where the presence of state institutions have been reduced in effect or value.
The name comparative politics refers to the discipline's historical association with the comparative method, described in detail below. Arend Lijphart argues that comparative politics does not have a substantive focus in itself, but rather a methodological one: it focuses on "the how but does not specify the what of the analysis." Peter Mair and Richard Rose advance a slightly different definition, arguing that comparative politics is defined by a combination of a substantive focus on the study of countries' political systems and a method of identifying and explaining similarities and differences between these countries using common concepts.
Sometimes, especially in the United States, the term "comparative politics" is used to refer to "the politics of foreign countries." This usage of the term is disputed.
Comparative politics is significant because it helps people understand the nature and working of political frameworks around the world. There are many types of political systems worldwide according to the authentic, social, ethnic, racial, and social history. Indeed, even comparative constructions of political association shift starting with one country then onto the next. For instance, India and the United States are majority-rule nations; nonetheless, the U.S. has a liberal vote-based presidential system contrasted with the parliamentary system used in India. Even the political decision measure is more diverse in the United States when found in light of the Indian popular government. The United States has a president as their leader, while India has a prime minister. Relative legislative issues encourage us to comprehend these central contracts and how the two nations are altogether different regardless of being majority rule. This field of study is critical for the fields of international relations and conflict resolution. Near politics encourages international relations to clarify worldwide legislative issues and the present winning conditions worldwide. Although both are subfields of political science, comparative politics examines the causes of international strategy and the effect of worldwide approaches and frameworks on homegrown political conduct and working.
Harry H. Eckstein traces the history of the field of comparative politics back to Aristotle, and sees a string of thinkers from Machiavelli and Montesquieu, to Gaetano Mosca and Max Weber, Vilfredo Pareto and Robert Michels, on to James Bryce - with his Modern Democracies (1921) - and Carl Joachim Friedrich - with his Constitutional Government and Democracy (1937) - contributing to its history.
Philippe C. Schmitter argues that the "family tree" of comparative politics has two main traditions: one, invented by Aristotle, that he calls "sociological constitutionalism"; a second, that he traced back to Plato, that he calls "legal constitutionalism"".
Schmitter places various scholars under each tradition:
Gerardo L. Munck offers the following periodization for the evolution of modern comparative politics, as a field of political science - understood as an academic discipline - in the United States:
Since the turn of the century, several trends in the field can be detected.
By some definitions, comparative politics can be traced back to Greek philosophy, as Plato's Republic and Aristotle's The Politics.
As a modern sub-discipline, comparative politics is constituted by research across a range of substantive areas, including the study of:
While many researchers, research regimes, and research institutions are identified according to the above categories or foci, it is not uncommon to claim geographic or country specialization as the differentiating category.
The division between comparative politics and international relations is artificial, as processes within nations shape international processes, and international processes shape processes within states. Some scholars have called for an integration of the fields. Comparative politics does not have similar "isms" as international relations scholarship.
While the name of the subfield suggests one methodological approach (the comparative method), political scientists in comparative politics use the same diversity of social scientific methods as scientists elsewhere in the field, including experiments, comparative historical analysis, case studies, survey methodology, and ethnography. Researchers choose a methodological approach in comparative politics driven by two concerns: ontological orientation and the type of question or phenomenon of interest.
Main article: Mill's Methods
Since the turn of the century, many students of comparative politics have compared units within a country. Relatedly, there has been a growing discussion of what Richard O. Snyder calls the "subnational comparative method."