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Some grand theories in Comparative Politics:


... external factors in explaining political conditions ... State-Society Relations. Political Economy. Comparative Politics paradigms & main topics of study ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Some grand theories in Comparative Politics:

Some grand theories in Comparative Politics
  • A very hasty overview

Grand theory what is it?
  • A set of general principles about politics that
    can be applied to all countries
  • An overarching model that can be used to
    categorize all countries and political systems
  • An attempt to create order out of politics

A problem
Modernization Theory (late 1940s-1960s)
  • Main problem it attempted to solve Differences
    among countries (poverty, industrialization or
    lack thereof, type of government, etc.)
  • Theory that all societies in an evolutionary
    process in which they move from being
    traditional to being modern.
  • culture as impediment to development
    traditional groups in society seen as obstacle
    to modernization and development.
  • Need for external trigger less localized
    economy, improved communications, formation of
    new elite
  • Idea that democracy naturally follows
  • western countries as more evolved and better
    others less evolved

Limitations of Modernization Theory?
  • Linear view of history only one route to
  • the West as the best  
  • assumption that the only possible development is
    capitalist development
  • Democracy doesnt always follow development
  • Change does not always equal better
  • Societies not homogenous diversity of
    modern/traditional developed/undeveloped inside
    the same society
  • Note Although discredited in academic circles,
    still widely believed outside academia,
    especially in political and popular circles.

Dependency theory(late 1960s-1970s)
  • Critique of modernization theory
  • Argues that developing countries
    underdevelopment due to external exploitation
    of those countries (NOT due to internal factors)
  • imperialism prevented emergence of western
    ideal-type development/the emergence of a
    indigenous alternative

  • Encouraged isolationist policies that sometimes
  • Overemphasized external factors in explaining
    political conditions
  • Marxian -- Overly economistic?

Other mid-range theories and approaches in
Comparative Politics
  • World systems theory
  • Rational Choice theory
  • State-Society Relations
  • Political Economy

Comparative Politics paradigms main topics of
study Early 1900s European constitutions and
judiciaries ? Post-WWII Roots of fascism and
totalitarianism ? 1950s-1960s structural-function
alism Modernization theory ? 1960s-1970s Moderniz
ation theory Dependency Theory ? 1970s-1980s World
systems theory Study of the state International
Political Economy