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IGNOU's Political Science material Part-1: Comparitive Government and Politics

IGNOU's Political Science material Part-1: Comparitive Government and Politics

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IGNOU's Political Science material Part-1: Comparitive Government and Politics
IGNOU's Political Science material Part-1: Comparitive Government and Politics

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P
resents IGNOU’s Material
 
Political Science: Comparative Government and Politics
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UNIT
1
NATURE, SCOPE AND UTILITY
OF
COMPARATIVE STUDY
OF
POLITICS
StructureObjectivesIntroductionComparative Study of Politics: Nature and Scope
1.2.1 Comparisons: Identification of Relationships1.2.2 Comparative Politics and Comparative Government
Comparative Politics:
A
Historical Overview
1.3.1 The Origins of Comparative Study of Politics1.3
2
The Late Nineteenth
and
Early Twentieth Centuries1.3.3 The Second World War and After1.3.4 The 1970s and Challenges to Developmentalism1.3.5 The 1980s: The Return of State1.3.6 The Late Twentieth Century: Globalisation and Emerging ~rends/~oss'ibilitics
Comparative Study of Politics: Utility
1.4.1 Comparing for Theoretical Formulation1.4.2 Comparisons for Scientific Rigour1.4.3 Comparisions Leading to Explanations in Relationships
Summing UpKey WordsSome Useful BooksAnswers to Check Your Progress Exercises
OBJECTIVES
In this
unit
we shall focus on the nature, scope and utility of a comparativestudy of politics. Through these you will be able to rook for answers to questionslike, (a)
what
is
the
nature
of comparative politics i.e., what is it that givescomparative political analysis its specificity: its characteristics, elements,constituents, perspective, purposelaims, and the
ideologicallstructural/contextual
framework within which these are realised, (b) what constitutes
its
scope i.e.,the range, field, or area of activity that it encompasses and, (c) its
utility
i.e.,
its
usefulness and relevance for enhancing our understanding of political reality, orhow does comparative study help us understand this reality better. It should bepointed out, however, that these aspects cannot be studied
in'
isolation of eachother in a compartementalised form. For a proper understanding of the nature,scope and utility of a comparative study of politics, one has to look at the latter'sdevelopment historically and see how its attributes evolved with changing contexts
i
and concerns.
I
The unit is divided into different sectiorls dhich take up
in
some detail the above
I
outlined themes. Each section is followed by questions based on the section.Towards the end of the unit is provided a list of readings which can be used tosupplement this unit.
A
set of questions follok the readings which will help youassess your understanding. All terms which have specific meanings
in
comparativepolitical analysis have been explained
in
the section on keywords.
1.1
INTRODUCTION
As the term itself points out, comparative politics is about comparing politicalphenomena. The emphasis is on both the
method
of inquiry i.e., comparative, andthe
substance
into which inquiry is directed i.e.,
political
phenomena. As will bepointed out
in
Unit
2
Comparative Method and Methods of Conlparison,
the
1
comparative method is not the sole prerogative sf comparative politics, and is
I
 
Comparative Methods and
used with equal ease in other disciplines as well e.g., Psy.chology and Sociology.
Approaches
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
in
the above mentioned features i.e., (a) subject matter (b) vocabularyand (c) political perspective. To understand
where, why
and
how
these changestook place we have to look at what is the focus of study at a particular historicalperiod, what are the
tools, languages
or
concepts
being used for the study andwhat is the
vantage point, perspective
and
purpose
of enquiry. Thus
in
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,
globalisation,
radical changes have been broughtabout in the manner in which the field of comparative politics has so far beenenvisaged.
1.2
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF POLITICS: NATURE
-:
AND SCOPE
We mentioned
in
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.
1.2.1
Comparisons: Identification of Relationships
This stress on the
con~parativemethod
as defining the character and scope ofcomparative political analysis has been maintained by some scholars
in
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
comparativist.
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
identl>ing,
and eventually
explaining dzrerences
or
similarities
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
.
..

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