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Book

Cover Comparative Politics

Edited by Daniele Caramani

Comparative Politics provides an introduction to the field. Comparative politics is an empirical science that deals primarily with domestic politics. It is one of the three main subfields of political science, alongside international relations and political theory. The text provides a comprehensive introduction to comparative politics. It includes three chapters dedicated to familiarizing readers with the comparative approach, discussing substance as well as method. It then guides readers through a thematically organized, comprehensive analysis of the core methods, theories, and concepts in comparative politics. Empirical data is drawn on to demonstrate key similarities and differences of political systems in practice. Increased focus is given to the Global South and its path towards democratization. At the end of each chapter, there are questions designed to encourage critical thinking. The six sections of the work deal with: theories and methods; the historical context; structures and institutions; actors and processes; public policies; and beyond the nation-state.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

5. Democracies  

Aníbal Pérez-Liñán

This chapter examines the key features of modern democracy, as well as its origins. It first explains what democracy means in the field of comparative politics, before discussing different models of democracy, including presidential democracy, parliamentary democracy, and democracies oriented towards consensus or majoritarian rule. It then describes the conditions—economic and political, domestic, and international—that allow some countries to become democratic but preserve others under the rule of dictatorships. In particular, it analyses the variables that facilitate the democratization of dictatorships and the factors that place democracies at risk of becoming authoritarian regimes. Finally, it reflects on the future of democracy and looks at the challenges that lie ahead for new generations of citizens.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

1. The Relevance of Comparative Politics  

Bo Rothstein

This chapter explains what comparative politics could be relevant for, such as informing the public debate and giving policy advice. It argues that comparative politics has a huge but sometimes underdeveloped potential for being relevant for the various aspects of human well-being, economic prosperity, and social justice that most people care deeply about. Empirical research shows that the manner in which a country’s political institutions are designed and the quality of the operations of these institutions have a strong impact on measures of population health, as well as subjective well-being and general social trust. One result is that democratization without increased state capacity and control of corruption is not likely to deliver increased human well-being. The chapter also considers whether democracy generates political legitimacy, and concludes by suggesting that comparative political science has so far paid relatively little attention to issues of state capacity, control of corruption, and institutional quality.