Theories in Comparative Politics

Michelle Elaine Mora

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Section I: Identifications

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions– Necessary and sufficient conditions are causation conditions that became known as Mills Method.[1] Necessary and sufficient conditions are significant because they allow a scientific/cause/effect way to study politics. A necessary condition is defined as a circumstance where the absence in an event, the event cannot occur. It can also be present in the event, but the event can still not occur. For example, gas has to be present to start a car, but a car could still possibly not start if gas is present. A sufficient condition is defined as if the cause is present, the event must occur. The event could possibly still occur without the cause though. For example, if an alarm goes off in the morning, the person will wake up, put it is possible that the person will wake up regardless of the alarm clock. Necessary and sufficient condition is that the event will occur, if and only if, the cause is present.
Social vs. Liberal Market Economy-Social market economy is defined as an economic system in which industry and commerce are run by private enterprise within limits set by the government to ensure equality of opportunity and social and environmental responsibility.[2] Features in a social market economy, are that it has highly coordinated business communities, strong unions, collective bargaining systems for wages, benefits and other workplace rights. A social market economy works in a large welfare state where there are extensive public precision of social welfare and employment protection. Example of a social market economies are Germany and Finland. A liberal market economy is one that is non-market based coordination; it allows for free market without government intervention. Features of a liberal market economy are it is uncoordinated, has a competitive business environment, weak union, utilizes fragment bargaining with labor and capital, and is a residual welfare state. Examples of a liberal market economy is the US and Canada.[3] Social and liberal economies are important because they provide two different ways to approach economy.
Dictators Dilemma– The dictator’s dilemma is defined as an authoritarian’s ruler’s repression on its citizens creates fear, which then breeds uncertainty about how such support the ruler has. In response, the rulers spend more resources than is ration to co-opt the opposition. The greater the repression, the greater the dilemma.[4] The dictator spends multiple resources on areas where they feel may have some sort of threat to the regime. An example of the dictator’s dilemma is in African authoritarian regimes in the 1960s and 70s, certain areas were lavished with infrastructure for the dictator to gain support. The dictators dilemma is significant because it explains how dictators never truly know how much support they have and helps understand how dictators try and gain/keep support for themselves to remain dictators.
Cap and Trade System-The cap and trade systems, which is an incentive based system, is defined as a market based pollution control system in which the government sets an overall limit on how much pollution is acceptable and issues vouchers to pollute, to each company. Then each company is free to trade their vouchers.[5] For example, if one company faces high costs to reduce their pollution levels they can buy more pollution vouchers from other companies that are able to have low pollution levels at a low cost. Critique of the cap and trade system is that there will be a high level of pollution at certain sources. For example, if a company has high pollution vouchers and are located up river, the down river will have a high concentration of pollution. The cap and trade system is significant because it is one of the most successful incentive systems and it keeps pollution low.
Four Types of Welfare Policy– There are four types of welfare policy: means-testing, universal entitlements, social insurance, and tax expenditures. Means testing is when someone receives assistance because they have fallen below a certain income line. Means testing policy is funded through general taxation. Many know means testing as “welfare.” Examples of means testing in the US are SNAP and TANF. Universal entitlements benefits that all citizens receive equally. Universal entitlements are funded through general taxation, as everyone benefits from the policy. An example of universal entitlements in the US is education. As education level goes up, poverty goes down, benefiting every tax payer. Social insurance provides benefits to categories of people who have contributed to the public insurance fund. Examples of public insurance are social security, unemployment insurance, and disability. What people pay in, they get out. Tax expenditures are when the government gives the citizen a tax break and does not collect taxes for a specific reason. Tax breaks are not paid for by direct government spending, rather by not receiving that money at all. It allows for a citizen to have more disposable income. An example of tax expenditures in the US is the earned income tax credit which aims to lower poverty. [6] Welfare policy is significant because it helps the general welfare of the state.

Section II: Essays

Essay 1-

Comparative politics is defined as the study and comparison of domestic politics across countries.[7] Politics is defined as the struggle in any group for power that will give one or more persons the ability to make decisions for the larger group.[8] How we study politics has changed over the years and dramatic changes have occurred within the last fifty years alone. Greek philosopher Aristotle is seen as the first person to study politics as a science, but is politics really a science?

In the beginning years, scholars who would study politics and government would study it in the same way as philosophy. Scholars mainly focused on describing the government rather than comparing, making generalizations, or offering solutions to problems within politics. This began to change with Aristotle began to research government. Aristotle began to compare research on existing political systems; he compared one hundred fifty-eight Greek city-states and determined the ideal political system. This was an empirical approach that could be verified and retested, making this the first scientific approach to politics.[9] It wasn’t until Nicolli Machiavelli that that the modern day scientific approach to political research began, 1,800 years after Aristotle’s research. Machiavelli’s approach wished to research different political systems of modern day governments but also to compare them to those of the past. Machiavelli then made generalizations about success and failures of different political systems. Machiavelli work then offered solutions to predecessor’s mistakes. Machiavelli’s work was also empirical.[10] Even though Machiavelli is known as the first modern political scientist it wasn’t until the behavioral revolution in 1950-1960’s that scholars began to create theories and generalizations that could help explain and even predict political activity.[11] Throughout history the way politics is studied has changed dramatically, but is studying politics in a scientific way possible? Is it really science?

Simply stated, yes, politics can be studied as a science. One can create a hypothesis, come to conclusions through qualitative or quantitative research, have independent and dependent variables, and make recommendations based on research all by using the same scientific method used in hard sciences such as biology and chemistry. An example of research using the scientific method is “The Correlates of Nuclear Proliferation: A Quantitative Test,” by Sonali Singh and Christopher R. Way. Researchers Singh and Way’s hypothesis is that there are three different stages on the path to weaponization of nuclear weapons technology. They then created dependent and independent variables (democracy and democratization economic interdependence and liberalization, statues inconsistency/symbolic motivations). The authors then did quantitative testing with statistical methods and came to the conclusion that nuclear weapons proliferation is strongly associated with the level of economic development, the external threat environment, lack of great power security guarantees, an low level of integration in the world economy.[12] Through this example, one can see how the scientific method can be applied to political/ comparative research as well. There are some disadvantages to doing political research as a science. For example, it is possible that there is selection bias, there are limited numbers of cases, unable to control variables, unable to make cause/effect relationship, and access to cases is limited. Even though there are disadvantages to studying politics as a science, the advantages of being able to draw conclusions and make recommendations on policy, government systems, etc, it is the most appropriate way to study politics and comparative politics.

Essay 2-

One of the greatest policy challenges facing is post-colonial states is political sovereignty. Globalization, as it is a form of imperialism, makes this problem harder to solve because of its history within these countries and there current presence or non-presence in some. Globalization is defined as a process whereby extensive and intensive webs of relationships connect people across time and space. In countries such as those in Latin America who lived under Spain when they were colonized then soon after gaining independence were imperialized by the united states have struggled to maintain a democracy and maintain political sovereignty without third world countries trying to step in and create their own forms of government or play big brother to these countries, ultimately leaving them worse off than they were before.

Some challenges that these countries face in globalization in post colonialism include such things as setting up their own democracy, creating their own economy, and attempting to prosper in a fast growing third world. They also had conflicts over nation, ethnicity, religion, gender, and equality. The biggest challenge is how these countries keep their political sovereignty without letting globalization affect them.