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Book

Cover Comparative European Politics
This book provides a broad and accessible introduction to contemporary European politics, covering the fundamental elements of European democracies, institutions, and practices of government. It provides comprehensive coverage of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union, additionally drawing on examples from the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 focuses on democratic representation, examining the core features of electoral democracy in Europe. Part 2 turns to the institutions and practices of government, focusing in particular on how institutional design shapes political outcomes. Part 3 examines a number of contemporary issues and challenges, including migration, economic crises, the threat of international terrorism, and the rise of anti-establishment parties, and examines the effects they have had on politics in European countries. Throughout, up-to-date examples on issues such as Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, and growing instability in Europe are used to help students understand the real-world context of European politics.

Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

Introduction  

Rory Costello

This chapter begins by describing the scope and main themes of the book, and explaining the rationale for the countries selected for inclusion. It discusses the prevalence of democracy in Europe, and provides an overview of some of the main similarities and differences between European democracies. A number of recent developments that have challenged the political status quo across the continent are highlighted. The chapter also outlines the general approach taken throughout the book, and discusses the importance of comparison in political research. It concludes with an outline of the book and a brief summary of its three main sections.

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Cover Comparative Politics

19. Political communication  

Frank Esser and Barbara Pfetsch

In order to examine political communication comparatively, this chapter argues for a dynamic–systemic perspective. For this purpose, it outlines the model of a political communication ecosystem. On this basis, the chapter first explains (1) institutional country differences in the relationship between politics and the media and (2) cultural country differences in the relationship between politicians and journalists. It then goes on to explain how prototypical styles and message types of (1) politicians as communicators and (2) media as communicators differ in a cross-country comparison. Finally, it explains the differences between countries in (1) the news consumption of national audiences and (2) the impact of political communication on these audiences. Taking into account recent research findings on social media, populism, disinformation, and the Ukraine invasion, the chapter concludes with implications for comparative political communication from Western and non-Western perspectives.

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.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

2. Approaches in comparative politics  

B. Guy Peters

This chapter examines five main approaches in comparative politics that represent important contributions: old and new institutional analysis, interest approach, ideas approach, individual approach, and the influence of the international environment. The role of ‘interaction’ is also explored. After explaining the use of theory in comparative political analysis, the chapter considers structural functionalism, systems theory, Marxism, corporatism, institutionalism, governance, and comparative political economy. It also discusses behavioural and rational choice approaches, how political culture helps in understanding political behaviour in different countries, self-interest in politics, and the implications of globalization for comparative politics. The chapter concludes by assessing the importance of looking at political processes and of defining what the ‘dependent variables’ are.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

23. Conclusion: Towards a Globalizing, Post- Western-Dominated World  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter summarizes the text’s various arguments. It first considers the relationships between the study of political philosophy, political institutions, and international relations and suggests that the study of politics cannot be divorced from the study of other social sciences such as economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, law, and history. It also contends that the study of politics should be seen as a genuinely international and comparative enterprise and explains how trends in globalization have further eroded the distinctions between domestic and international politics and between the domestic politics of individual nation-states. Finally, it discusses the rise of the so-called ‘new medievalism’, a scenario in which the world is moving towards greater anarchy; signs that global power is shifting from the West to the East; and developments showing that domestic politics and international relations are mutating.

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Cover Comparative Politics

19. Political Communication  

Frank Esser and Barbara Pfetsch

This chapter examines the dimensions of the political communication system. It first explains the rationale for a comparative study of political communication before discussing relevant models of relationship between media and political institutions, as well as differences in political communication cultures among media and political elites. It then reviews findings on country-specific reporting styles in political news coverage and evaluates divergent approaches in government communication and election communication. On the side of the citizens, the chapter explores cross-national differences in the consumption of political news, along with the positive contribution of public service broadcasters for informed and enlightened citizenship. Finally, it looks at political information flows, comparing message production by political actors, political message production by media actors, usage patterns of political information, and effects of political communication.

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.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

2. Approaches in Comparative Politics  

B. Guy Peters

This chapter examines five main approaches in comparative politics that represent important contributions: old and new institutional analysis, interest approach, ideas approach, individual approach, and the influence of the international environment. The role of ‘interaction’ is also explored. After explaining the use of theory in comparative political analysis, the chapter considers structural functionalism, systems theory, Marxism, corporatism, institutionalism, governance, and comparative political economy. It also discusses behavioural and rational choice approaches, how political culture helps to understand political behaviour in different countries, self-interest in politics, and the implications of globalization for comparative politics. The chapter concludes by assessing the importance of looking at political processes and of defining what the ‘dependent variables’ are.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

8. Institutions and States  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter deals with institutions and states. Institutions are essentially regular patterns of behaviour that provide stability and predictability to social life. Some institutions are informal, with no formally laid down rules such as the family, social classes, and kinship groups. Others are more formalized, having codified rules and organization. Examples include governments, parties, bureaucracies, legislatures, constitutions, and law courts. The state is defined as sovereign, with institutions that are public. After discussing the concept of institutions and the range of factors that structure political behaviour, the chapter considers the multi-faceted concept of the state. It then looks at the history of how the European type of state and the European state system spread around the world between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. It also examines the modern state and some of the differences between strong states, weak states, and democratic states.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

21. International Organizations in Global Politics  

Stephanie Lawson

This chapter examines the nature of international organizations and their role in global politics. It first explains what an international organization is before discussing the rise of international organizations from a historical perspective, focusing on developments from the nineteenth century onwards. It then considers the major intergovernmental institutions that emerged in the twentieth century and which have made significant contributions in shaping the global order, including the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. It also looks at non-governmental organizations and concludes with an analysis of ideas about social movements and global civil society, along with their relationship to the contemporary world of international organizations.