Last Updated: March 14, 2013

Seminar in Comparative Politics

POLS 689

Spring 2013


Office: NQ262

Office Hours: Tue 8:50-9:30am, Tuesdays 1:30-2:30, Thu 8:50-9:30 and by appointment



Course Description

Some of the most important issues in Comparative Politics are democratization and the democratic performance of nations. This course will explore why some countries are more democratic than others or are more effective in maintaining healthy democratic systems than others. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to some of the basic concepts and tools used in Comparative Politics and attempt to answer these questions by exploring core topics in the study of comparative nations. These topics include:1. Qualitative and quantitative approaches in Comparative Politics; 2. political violence; 3. rational choice theory; 4. political institutions; 5. political economy; 6. democratization and democratic consolidation; 7. political parties; 8. public opinion and mass behavior.


Course Requirements

POLS625 (or POLS210) is recommended but not required.



Jeremy M. Weinstein 2007. Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence. Cambridge University Press

* George Ayittey. 2005. Africa Unchained. New York: Palgrave

* Barrington Moor. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Boston: Beacon Press

Arend Lijphart. 2012. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. 2nd edition. New Haven: Yale University Press

Jose Antonio Cheibub 2006. Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy. Cambridge University Press

J. Mark Ramseyer and Frances M. Rosenbluth 1998. The Politics of Oligarchy: Institutional Choice of Imperial Japan. Cambridge University Press

Carles Boix 1998. Political Parties, Growth and Equality. Cambridge University Press

* Rain Taagepera 2007. Predicting Party Sizes. Oxford University Press

Mancur Olson. 2000. Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships. Basic Books


* Books are also available in Bracken Library at the Circulation/Course Reserve counter.



The list of articles can be found at



Grade is allocated in the following way:


Research Paper



Prep for Research Paper






Participation (Discussion)










Grading Scale: For all items in this class for which grades are assigned, the following grading scale will be used:



























Students are required to summarize an article during the first class period.


Research Paper

Students are required to write a research paper that explores a topic in the field of Comparative Politics. The length of the paper should be about 20 double spaced typed pages (with 12 point font and one inch margins). The paper is due on April 25th. No extensions will be granted. Ten points will be subtracted from studentsí grade for each day that the paper is late. The paper will not be accepted beyond three days from the due date.


Class Discussion/Participation

For each class meeting, a few students will be assigned the responsibility of leading the class discussion or for summarizing the main arguments in specified readings. Participation in class discussions is strongly encouraged. Of course, participation should be constructive, and all comments should be relevant to the material being covered in class. Students must do all of the readings prior to the class! Respect should be shown for all other class members at all times.


Obviously, missing class is a major setback.


General Expectations

Students are expected to attend class regularly, arrive promptly and have a collegial demeanor. For the lab hours, students are expected to use only appropriate software, which typically does not include the internet or e-mail programs.†††


Students will be responsible for knowing any changes made to the syllabus during class time whether they were in attendance or not. The instructorís lecture notes are not available to students; it is the studentís responsibility to obtain class notes from a classmate, should class be missed.††


Academic Honesty

Honesty, trust, and personal responsibility are fundamental attributes of the university community. Academic dishonesty by a student will not be tolerated, for it threatens the foundation of an institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. To maintain its credibility and reputation, and to equitably assign evaluations of scholastic and creative performance, Ball State University is committed to maintaining a climate that upholds and values the highest standards of academic integrity.




Week 1 (1/9)


Research Paper: Topic

Assignment 1


Articles (Visit

Week 2 (1/16)




Political Economy I

George Ayittey. 2005. Africa Unchained Chs 1-5

Week 3 (1/23)





Democratization I

Barrington Moor. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy Chs 1-4

Week 4 (1/30)

Research paper: Introduction Due

Articles (Visit

Week 5 (2/6)


Political Economy II

Ramseyer and Rosenbluth. The Politics of Oligarchy: Institutional Choice of Imperial Japan. Chs 1-8

Week 6(2/13)


Research paper: Theory and Hypothesis (Theory) Due


Week 7 (2/20)



Political Economy III

Olson. 2000. Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist... Preface-Ch8

Week 8 (2/27)




Political Violence

Jeremy M. Weinstein 2007. Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence. Introduction, Chs 1-3, Chs 5 and 6

Week 9 (3/6)


Spring Break

Week 10 (3/13)


Political Economy IV

Boix. Political Parties, Growth and Equality Chs 1-7

Week 11 (3/20)

Research Paper: Data and methods(Case selection) Due

Qualitative methods

Articles (Visit

Week 12 (3/27)


Political Institutions

Arend Lijphart. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. Chs 1-8, 15-16

Week 13 (4/3)


Guns, Germs, and Steels

Week 14 (4/10)


Parliamentarism and Presidentialism

-Jose Antonio Cheibub 2006. Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy Cambridge University Press Chs 1-6


Week 15 (4/17)


Research paper: Descriptive Stats and Results (Case Study) Due

Research paper: Power Point Due

Formal Modeling (Veto Player)

Articles (Visit

Week 16 (4/24)


Research Paper:  Final paper Due

To be announced

Week 17 (5/1)



Research Paper: Presentation