Political Science 120, Comparative Political Regimes                                 Fall Term 2003




Professor: Alfred P. Montero                                               Office: Willis 407

Phone: x4085 (Office) 645-9603 (Home)                              Email: Amontero@carleton.edu

Web Page: http://www.acad.carleton.edu/curricular/POSC/faculty/montero

Office Hours: Mon. 9:00-11:00 and 2:00-3:00 ; Wed. & Fri. 2:00-3:00


Course Description


This course serves as an introduction to the basic concepts, methods, primary empirical materials, theoretical approaches, and current challenges of comparative politics. Students will be trained to think and write critically on substantive issues in the politics of different countries. Although comparative politics is often defined as "the study of all countries excluding the United States," this course will not abide by that rather perfunctory definition. The U.S. will be included at different points in the course as a baseline for comparison.


As a primer for newcomers to this subdiscipline of political science, the course has been organized with an increasing level of difficulty. Students begin with an introduction to the most basic tools of political science; then they are trained to analyze complex empirical materials. Later, they must make their way up the "ladder of abstraction" to the tricky world of theory-building and hypothesis-testing.


In the first section of the course (Session 1), students will examine the methods, concepts, and epistemology of comparative politics. Learning how to use these tools to study politics is similar to "basic training." I prefer: a "bootcamp for the mind" - not very pleasurable, but very necessary. Aspiring majors in political science and/or international relations will find this primer useful. I strongly recommend that such students enroll in POSC 230 Methods of Political Research soon after completing this course.


The second section of the course (Sessions 2 - 4) introduces students to five empirical cases: Britain, Germany, Russia, China, and Brazil. This survey will provide students with a basic lay of the political land. Students will learn about the crucial moments, institutions, processes, and individuals that shaped the political experiences of these five major countries. The surveys will also present several "mid-range propositions" - causal statements about particular sets of countries that come in handy when attempting to understand complex empirical materials. The department offers a number of 200- and 300-level thematic and regionally-specific courses on Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa that act as perfect follow-ups for what students learn during these sessions.


As students use these empirical cases and mid-range propositions, class lectures will introduce students to some of the theoretical arguments that have been built on the comparative study of these countries. The study of Britain and Germany will inform our on-going discussion about diverse routes to democracy; Russia and China will provide empirical material for the application of theories about state-building and revolution that are taken from the study of Western Europe; and finally, the study of Brazil will highlight the problems of forming democratic governance in the context of "late late" development.


Thus empowered with a solid methodological and empirical background, section 3 of the course (Sessions 5 - 7) will challenge students to think about a central question in comparative politics: How is democracy built and why it endures in some countries and erodes in others? In this section, students will read Robert Putnam's seminal contribution to the debate regarding this question, Making Democracy Work. Students will also read short, contrasting theoretical approaches to the question and compare these with Putnam's treatment and his more recent application of these ideas to the United States. Students may follow-up instruction in this area with my POSC 233 Global Resurgence of Democracy and then POSC 385 Comparative Democratic Systems.


What is Expected of Students


Students will be expected to read, think, criticize, and form arguments. That means that students must keep up in their reading assignments and attend class regularly. Students must be fully prepared at all times to discuss the readings and concepts from previous lectures. The best students will be critical but balanced in their assessments, and will develop coherent arguments that they can defend in their writing and their in-class discussion.


Reading Materials


This course requires your purchase of three books. These materials have been ordered and are presently on sale at the college bookstore. The texts are:


Mark Kesselman, Joel Krieger, and William A. Joseph, eds. 2003. Introduction to Comparative Politics. 2nd Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Best collection of "middle-range" studies of comparative cases currently on the market. We will refer to this reading as "KKJ," for short.
Christian Søe, ed. 2003. Comparative Politics 03/04. Guilford: Dushkin/McGraw Hill.
Robert Putnam. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Seminal contribution to the literature on democracy authored by a major scholar.

In addition to these texts, this course requires your study of a number of other readings from diverse sources. Students are advised to make readable copies of these materials early during the course. In order to reduce your costs and perhaps save on paper, I will make electronic versions available whenever possible. Otherwise, I have placed multiple copies of the required materials, including books and photocopied essays, on closed reserve.


I will occasionally distribute handouts and clippings from The New York Times, the Economist, the Minneapolis/St. Paul newspapers, and the internet either at the beginning of class or I will make them available off of the class webpage. Students are also invited to check out links to course relevant web pages on the professor's web page. Materials on the course's web page will be updated during the semester and will supplement rather than duplicate the substance of the lectures and the readings. Students will be invited to reference these resources during the term.




Assessment of the students in this course will be based on their performance on one exam, three writing assignments, and in-class participation. The grade breakdown follows:



Floating Comprehensive Exam




First Writing Assignment





Second Writing Assignment




Third Writing Assignment




Class Participation




The Comprehensive Exam


Format: take-home essay exam. Beginning with session 2, students will be presented with a set of questions and may choose one per session and compose a 4-5 page answer. The comprehensive exam will "float" until we conclude our study of particular countries. Students must answer a total of two questions over the course of the floating period. Each question is theoretical and will require use of the empirical data to answer it. Students will have two weeks after the session outline containing the exam questions is distributed in class and placed on the class webpage to complete the assignment. The difficulty level of the questions will increase over time.


The comprehensive exam will test the ability of the student to (1) become familiar with particular empirical cases, (2) build and apply simple causal arguments about issues and problems specific to these cases, and (3) identify similarities and differences in the politics of addressing these questions across national cases. The format of the exam provides students with the opportunity to divide their workload so as to accommodate their assignment schedules in other courses. A handout will answer frequently asked questions regarding the floating exam at the top of session 2.


Writing Assignments


Paper assignments in this course are of varying lengths. Yet they must all be typed, paginated, and double-spaced with 12cpi font size and one-inch margins. These assignments must be turned in before or on the due date specified below. Late work will receive no credit. Proper use of spelling, punctuation, and grammar is expected. Since ability to edit your own work and produce concise argument is a touchstone for assessing and developing your critical skills, students will not be allowed to surpass the required number of pages.


Paper #1 (Methods Exercise):


Students will be asked to select a single article from a list of citations and make a photocopy of the selection. Once acquired, students will evaluate the article by identifying the main argument, the key variables, indicators for variance, and main concepts. Students must specify if the concepts are clear to them or not. If not, they must explain why. This paper must be four to five pages in length. Additional requirements of this Methods Exercise will be made available in a handout.


Paper #2 (Mid-Range Proposition Building Exercise):


Based on their study of Britain, Germany, and Russia, students will prepare a five to six page paper proposing a causal argument about the formation and maintenance of democracy. They will support their argument with a brief comparison of two of the three countries listed above.


Paper #3 (Theory Application Exercise):


Using alternative theoretical approaches to building democracy, students will critique Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work. Students will be asked to evaluate the consistency and usefulness of Putnam's main arguments by pointing out strengths and weaknesses. The essay must make a case for an alternative approach among those discussed in the course. This paper will be five to six pages in length.


Class Participation


Communicating your insight into the subjects analyzed in this course is an integral part of the learning experience. In no way do I consider class participation a residual category for subjectively determining the final grade. In this course, I will evaluate your performance in both formal, scheduled presentations and informal class discussion. The following are structured presentation formats that will be used in this course:


(1) A simulation on Russian democracy and state capacity.


(2) Debates on the European Union and China.


(3) A simulation on an IMF mission to Brazil during the Argentine financial crisis.


(4) Small group discussion sections on Putnam's Making Democracy Work.


Discussion Section


I offer an informal and voluntary occasional discussion section for this course. The section will begin to meet during the second or third week and will function throughout the term depending on scheduling. These sessions are usually held in the luxurious Political Science Department lounge.


The Grading Scale


I will be using the following grading scale in this course:

98-100 A+

94-97   A

91-93   A-

88-90   B+

83-87   B

79-82   B-

76-78   C+

72-75   C

68-71   C-

67/below D/F


Academic Misconduct


Given the fact that academe relies upon the ethical conduct of scholars, students are held to the same standards in their own work. Any act of academic dishonesty or misconduct will be referred to the Office of the Dean. For further information, see Carleton College's Academic Honesty in the Writing of Essays and Other Papers and the section on "academic honesty" in Academic Regulations and Procedures, 2003-04. Both are available in Laird 140.


Special Needs


Students requiring access to learning tools/special schedules approved by Student Support Services should contact me at the beginning of the course.


NOTE: Readings must be completed for the dates assigned below.


                                                                    SECTION I


                                                   BOOTCAMP FOR THE MIND:




Session 1: Science! Assumptions, Causal Relationships, Concepts, Method, and Variables


Toward a Science of Politics (September 15, Monday)


Richard Harter, “Piltdown Man” (A Cautionary Tale About The Importance of Verification in Scientific Inquiry).


Epistemology: The Assumption of Rationality in Political Science (September 17, Wednesday)


William H. Riker, "Political Science and Rational Choice." In Perspectives on Positive Political Economy, eds. James E. Alt and Kenneth A. Shepsle. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1994.


Theory and Comparative Method: How Do We Know a Good Causal Argument When We See One? (September 19, Friday; September 22, Monday)


Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994, Chapter 1.


Recommended: Gerardo Munck, “Canons of Research Design in Qualitative Analysis,” Studies in Comparative International Development 33:3 (1998): 18-45.


Video: "Junk Science." (Will be shown in a place, time, and date TBA. An informal discussion will follow).


Definitions and Conceptualization (September 24, Wednesday)


Philippe Schmitter & Terry Lynn Karl, "What Democracy Is....and Is Not," in Søe, article 19.


Methods Exercise (September 26, Friday)


Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder, "Democratization and the Danger of War," International Security 20:1 (Summer 1995): 5-38.



                                                                   SECTION II


                                                      THE COUNTRY SURVEYS:




Session 2: The Advanced Capitalist States: Class Alliances and Democracy




KKJ, Chapter 2, Sections 1-2 (September 29, Monday)


KKJ, Chapter 2, Sections 3-4 (October 1, Wednesday)


KKJ, Chapter 2, Sections 5; Britain articles in Søe: #1, 2, 3, & 4 (October 3, Friday)




The European Union


EU articles in Søe: #23 and 24 (October 6, Monday)


H. Wallace, "The Institutional Setting"; handout of Economist articles (October 8, Wednesday)




KKJ, Chapter 4, Sections 1-2 (October 10, Friday)


The EU Debate (October 13, Monday)


KKJ, Chapter 4, Sections 3-4; Economist articles (October 15, Wednesday)


NO CLASS October 17 (Friday – Work on Floating Exam) and October 20 (Midterm Break)


KKJ, Chapter 4, Section 5; Germany articles in Søe: #: 8-10 (October 22, Wednesday)


Session 3: Communist and Post-Communist States: States and Social Revolutions




KKJ, Chapter 10, Sections 1-2 (October 24, Friday)


Film: "PBS Frontline: Return of the Czar." (Will be shown in a place, time, and date TBA. An informal discussion will follow).


KKJ, Chapter 10, Sections 3-4 (October 27, Monday)


KKJ, Chapter 10, Section 5; Russia articles in Søe: 28-29; The Russia Simulation (October 29, Wednesday)




KKJ, Chapter 11, Section 1 (October 31, Friday)


Film: "PBS Frontline: China in the Red." (Will be shown in a place, time, and date TBA. An informal discussion will follow).




KKJ, Chapter 11, Sections 2-3 (November 3, Monday)


KKJ, Chapter 11, Section 4-5; China articles in Søe: 35, 37, 38; The China Debate (November 5, Wednesday)


Session 4: >Third World' States: Development and Democracy




KKJ, Sections 1-2 (November 7, Friday)


KKJ, Sections 3-5; Economist articles on the Argentine/Brazilian financial crisis (November 10, Monday)


The IMF Simulation (November 12, Wednesday)


Film: "Central Station." (Will be shown in a place, time, and date TBA. An informal discussion will follow).


                                                                   SECTION III


                                  TOWARD A GRAND THEORY OF DEMOCRACY


Session 5: Culturalist Approaches to Democracy (November 14, Friday)


Howard Wiarda, "Social Change, Political Development, and the Latin American Tradition." In Promise of Development: Theories of Change in Latin America, eds. Peter F. Klarén and Thomas J. Bossert. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986.


Putnam, Making Democracy Work, Chapters 1-2.


Session 6: Social Structural Approaches (November 17, Monday)


Adam Przeworski, Michael Alvarez, José Cheibub, and Fernando Limongi, "What Makes Democracies Endure?" In Consolidating the Third Wave Democracies: Themes and Perspectives, eds., Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, Yun-han Chu, and Hung-mao Tien. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.


Putnam, Making Democracy Work, Chapters 3-4.


Putnam, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital." In The Global Resurgence of Democracy 2nd Ed., eds. Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.


Session 7: Institutionalist Approaches (November 19, Wednesday)


Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, "Toward Consolidated Democracies." In Consolidating the Third Wave Democracies: Themes and Perspectives, eds. Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, Yun-han Chu, and Hung-mao Tien. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.


Putnam, Making Democracy Work, Chapters 5-6.