From Ancient Greece to the Arab Spring, ideas of democracy have occupied a catalytic position at the heart of global politics. But what does it mean to say that one country is democratic and another is not? On what grounds are these distinctions drawn? Is democracy the ideal form of government for all countries? How do differences in economic and cultural development shape processes of democratization? Students are invited to explore these and related questions within the framework of this introductory course in comparative politics.
The course begins by reflecting on the historical evolution of comparative politics as a discipline, in the process, introducing students to the primary theoretical models and empirical methods used by researchers in the field. Students proceed by considering the history of democracy, before more systematically evaluating the diverse economic, cultural, systemic and institutional factors at play in processes of democratization. This thematic investigation is rooted in a variety of empirical case studies that reflect both the regional and experiential diversity of global politics. At the end of this course, students will have gained insight into the complexities of both democratization and comparative research methodologies.