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Political Science 71

Introduction to Comparative Politics

Fall 2010, MWF 9:35-10:25, Marsh Life Science 235

Instructor: Caroline Beer Office Hours: MWF: 10:45-11:45,

Office: 533 Old Mill (or by appointment)
Telephone: x68384 Email:

Teaching Assistant: Miranda Redmond,, Old Mill 524,

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursdays 11:15-12:45



The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to the comparative analysis of
politics. Comparative politics employs the scientific method of comparison to understand
how politics works. Scholars of comparative politics believe that we can only understand
politics in one country by comparing it with other countries. The main questions that
motivate most comparative politics are: Why are some countries rich and other countries
poor? Why are some countries democratic and other countries authoritarian? Why do
some democracies promote greater equality and others do not? We will also look at how
different types of political institutions (parliamentarism vs. presidentialism, electoral
systems, judicial systems) lead to different types of political. The course includes case
studies of the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Mexico, and India.

The general expectation for college level courses is that students spend three hours
preparing for class for every one hour in class. Therefore, I expect all students to
dedicate nine hours a week to this course outside of class time. Although most class
sessions will consist of lectures on theoretical issues, classroom discussion is also a vital
part of the learning process. The assigned readings must be completed before class
sessions are held, and students must attend all class meetings. Course evaluation will be
based on a data collection exercise, a short writing assignment, reading responses, two
readings tests, and a final exam.

Your final grade will be determined by weighting the assignments in the following way:

Comparative data collection exercise 5%

Writing Assignment 10%
Reading Responses 15%
Readings Test 1 20%
Readings Test 2 20%
Final Exam 30%


Missed Test Policy

If you have to miss a test for any reason, you will have only one opportunity to make it
up. All make ups will be given on November 8 at 4:05.
Required Texts

Essentials of Comparative Politics, Third Edition, by Patrick H. O’Neil. New York:


Cases in Comparative Politics, Third Edition, by Patrick H. O’Neil, Karl Fields, and Don
Share. New York: Norton.

*If you are trying to save money on textbooks, ebook versions of these two books are
available online at a substantially lower cost than the hard copy versions. See

** A number of required readings for this class are available on Blackboard in the “Course Materials Folder”.

Email Communications
Throughout the semester I will be sending reading material and information via email. I
will use the university’s email list to send out this information. It is your responsibility to
monitor your university e-mail account regularly to obtain these materials. If you wish to
use a different e-mail address, it is your responsibility to forward the material from your
university account to that other e-mail address. It is all but impossible for me to keep
track of the various e-mail addresses of all my students. Moreover, the university expects
to be able to communicate important information to you via the university account. So
please take care of managing that account in whatever manner ensures that you get all of
the e-mail that needs to find its way to you for this course and for university purposes

Late Assignments and Computer Problems

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the specified due date. Grades for all
late assignments will be reduced 5% per day. As a part of every written assignment,
students are required to backup all work at least every hour on the university’s mainframe
computer “zoo”. If you do not know how to backup documents on zoo, you may call the
CIT helpline for assistance at x62604. Since all work will be backed up on the
mainframe, in the event of a catastrophic computer failure on your pc, you will only lose
one hour of work. Thus, students with catastrophic computer problems will be allowed
exactly ONE HOUR to fix any problems and turn in their paper. No assignments will be
accepted via email.

Turning in assignments
Reading responses will be turned in over Blackboard. The Table Assignment must be
handed in hardcopy. I prefer that you hand your completed assignments directly to me
during class. If you cannot hand your assignment directly to me, you may turn in your
assignment by putting it under my office door. Do not put assignments in the box next to
my office door. If you are unable to hand an assignment directly to me, then as soon as
you put it under my door send me an email with the paper attached so that I know when
you handed in the assignment and to protect yourself in case the paper goes missing. No
assignments will be accepted via email, you must also put a hard copy under my office
door. I will respond to your email to let you know that I received the hard copy. If you
do not get a response to your email, then you should assume that I did not receive it and
you must therefore resend or otherwise be in touch with me.

Classroom Protocol
The Department of Political Science requires that this classroom protocol, defining
minimum standards of conduct, be included in all syllabi of political science classes.
1. Students are expected to attend and be prepared for ALL regularly scheduled
2. Students are expected to arrive on time and stay in class until the class period
ends. If a student knows in advance that s/he will need to leave early, s/he should
notify the instructor before the class period begins.
3. Students are expected to treat faculty and fellow students with respect. For
example, students must not disrupt class by leaving and reentering during class,
must not distract class by making noise, and must be attentive to comments being
made by the instructors and by peers.

Students with Disabilities

Every attempt will be made to accommodate students with disabilities. Please obtain an
accommodation letter from the Access office and alert me of
any accommodations that you will require as soon as possible. Requests for
accommodation must be made at least five days prior to the date when needed to ensure
provision of that accommodation.

Academic Integrity
Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated. Offenses against the Code of Academic
Integrity are deemed serious and insult the integrity of the entire academic community.
Any suspected violations of the code are taken very seriously and will be forwarded to the
Center for Student Ethics & Standards for further investigation.

To read the Code of Academic Integrity in its entirety, and to learn more about
procedures for reporting alleged violations, visit the Center for Student Ethics and
Standards website at:

Religious Holidays
Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. Each semester students
should submit in writing to their instructors by the end of the second full week of classes
their documented religious holiday schedule for the semester. Faculty must permit
students who miss work for the purpose of religious observance to make up this work.

Readings should be completed before class meets on the assigned day.
Date Topic Assignment
Aug. 30 Introduction: Read the syllabus. Check out the Blackboard
What is Comparative page.
Sept. 1 The Comparative Essentials, ch. 1, Cases, ch. 1
Method Film “Gandhi”
Sept. 3 Theories of Comparative Film, continued
Sept. 6 States and Nations: No Class Labor Day
States Essentials, ch. 2
Sept. 8 Political Attitudes vs. Essentials, ch. 3. Response due.
Sept 10 Authoritarianism: Essentials, ch. 6
Sept. 13 Types Last day to add or drop
Sept. 15 El Salvador “The Laboratory” in Children of Cain by Tina
Rosenberg, On Blackboard. Response due
Sept. 17 Russia Cases, pp. 245-256
Sept. 20 China Cases, pp. 285-306
Sept. 22 Review session
Sept. 24 First Readings Test (includes a map)
Sept. 27 Mexico Cases, pp. 407-417
Sept. 29 Democracy: Defining Essentials, ch. 5
Oct. 1 UK Cases, pp. 31-39
Oct. 4 France Cases, pp. 115-126
Oct. 6 India Cases, pp. 327-341
Oct. 8 TBA TBA
Oct. 11 Democratic Cases, pp. 39-52 (UK)
Parliamentarism in UK
Oct. 13 Parliamentarism in India Cases, pp. 341-347(India)
Oct. 15 Presidentialism, Cases, pp.417-423(Mexico)
Oct. 18 Semi-presidentialism Cases, pp.126-136 (France),256-266 (Russia)
France, Russia
Oct. 20 Go over tables Table Assignment Due.
Oct. 22 Electoral Systems,
Run-offs SMD vs. PR,
Oct. 25 Thesis ID “The Case for a Multi-party US Parliament” by
Christopher Allen. On Blackboard. Response Due.
Oct. 27 Party Systems, Weak Cases, pp. 52-62 (UK),
vs. Strong
Oct. 29 UK, France, India Cases, pp. 136-145(France), 347-357(India)
Nov. 1 Russia, China, Mexico Cases, pp. 266-275(Russia),306-317(China),423-
Last day to withdraw 436(Mexico)
Nov. 3 Second Readings Test
Nov. 5 Political Economy: Essentials, ch. 4
Basic Concepts
Nov. 8 Economic History
Nov. 10 Capitalism and “Capitalism and Democracy” by Gabriel Almond.
Democracy On Blackboard. Response Due.
Nov.12 Religion and Politics
Nov. 15 Advanced Essentials, ch. 7
Categorizing States,
Modern vs. Postmodern,
Nov. 17 France and Britain Cases, pp. 62-71(UK), 145-153(France)
Nov. 19 Thesis ID “Taxes” and “Going Dutch” on Blackboard. “Why
Doesn’t the United States have a European-style
Welfare State?” by Alberto Alesina, et al. On
Blackboard. Response Due.
Nov. 22- Thanksgiving Break
Nov. 29 Communism and Post- Essentials, ch. 8
Communism: Socialist
theorists, History of
Dec. 1 Dual Transitions, Russia Cases, pp. 275-283(Russia)317-326(China)
and China Writing Assignment Due
Dec. 3 Less-Developed Essentials, ch. 9
Countries: Legacies of
Dec. 6 Mexico 436-449(Mexico)
Dec. 8 India Cases, pp. 357-368(India)
Final Exam: Friday, December 17, 7:30-10:15am. Same room as usual.

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