Introduction to Comparative Politics

Course Level 2: Intermediate

Estimated Study Time: 75-80 hours

Course Number: POLSC221

Offered by: Saylor Academy

The following excerpt is from Saylor Academy’s course listing:

Politics, a term best defined as the distribution, exercise, and consequences of power, exists at multiple levels of our society and in our daily lives. We experience politics in action, for example, during international negotiations, government policy choices, in the workplace, and in our own families. This course focuses on the formal, public sphere of politics and power relations through a systematic study and comparison of types of government and political systems.

Comparativists (practitioners of comparative politics) seek to identify and understand the similarities and differences among political systems by breaking broad topics such as democracy or freedom down into the factors we find in individual systems. We call this general approach the comparative method, whose goal is to identify the factors and/or categories of analysis to compare and contrast different political phenomena.

We can use the comparative method to tackle broader, more complicated questions such as: Are certain forms of representative democracy more effective than others? Why are some countries extremely prosperous, and others extremely poor? How does authoritarian control drive economic development? Does culture impact quality of governance? After completing this course, you will have the methodological background to understand and explain variations in political behavior and political institutions. You will also have a general understanding of the issues facing political systems in each of the regions covered.

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