Comparative Methods and
used with equal ease in other disciplines as well e.g., Psy.chology and Sociology.
It is the substance of comparative politics i.e., its subject matter, vocabulary andperspectiqe, which gives comparative politics its distinctiveness both as a methodand as a Gpecific field of study.The i~ature nd scope of comparative politics has been determined historically bychanges
the above mentioned features i.e., (a) subject matter (b) vocabularyand (c) political perspective. To understand
these changestook place we have to look at what is the focus of study at a particular historicalperiod, what are the
being used for the study andwhat is the
vantage point, perspective
of enquiry. Thus
thesections which follow, we shall look at the manner in which comparative politicshas evolved, the continuities and discontinuities which have informed this evolution,the wap in which this evolution has been determined in and by the specifichistorical contexts and socio-economic and political forces, and how in the contextof late twentieth century viz,
radical changes have been broughtabout in the manner in which the field of comparative politics has so far beenenvisaged.
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF POLITICS: NATURE
the previous section that the comparative method is commonlyused in other disciplines as well. We also know from the earlier section, thatcomparative politics is distinguished from other disciplines which also use thecomparative method, by its specific subject matter, language and perspective. Inthat case, we might well ask the question, is there at all a distinct field of
comparqtive political analysis
or is it a
sub-discipline subsumed within thelarger discipline of Political Science.
The three aspects of subject matter,languagq, vocabulary, and perspective, we must remember, are inadequate inestablishing the disti~~ctivenessf comparative politics within the broad discipline ofPolitical Science, largely because
comparative politics shares the subject matterand concerns of Political Science,
i.e. democracy, constitutions, political parties,social movements etc. Within the discipline of Political Science thus the specificityof comparative political analysis is marked out by its
conscious use of thecomparqtive method to answer questions which might be of general interestto political scientists.
Comparisons: Identification of Relationships
This stress on the
as defining the character and scope ofcomparative political analysis has been maintained by some scholars
order todispel frequent misconceptions about co~nparative olitics as involving the study of'foreign countries' i.e., countries other than your own. Under such anunderstanding, if you were studying a country other than your own, (e.g., anAmericgn studying the politics of Brazil or an Indian studying that of Sri Lanka)you would be called a
More often than not, this misconceptionimplies merely the gathering of information about individual countries with little orat the most implicit comparison involved. The distinctiveness of comparativepolitics, most comparativists would argue, lies in a
conscious and systematic
useof comparisons to study two or more countries with the purpose of
between them with respectto the particular phenomeita being analqsod. For a long time co~nparative oliticsappeared merely to look for similarities and differences, and directed this towardsclassifying, dichotomising or polarising political phenomena. Comparative politicalanalysiii is however, not simply about identifying similarities and differences. The