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Title: Comparative politics: Theories and methods


1
Comparative politicsTheories and methods
  • Ana Rico, Associate Professor
  • Department of Health Management and Health
    Economics
  • ana.rico_at_medisin.uio.no

2
OUTLINE
  • I. Health politics Content, motivation and goals
    of the course
  • II. Political science and comparative politics
    problems methods
  • Problems of political science research
  • Small-N and Large-N approaches
  • Comparative politics the fuzzy centre
  • III. Types of theories
  • From early theories monocausal (socioeconomic,
    cultural or institutional) determinism
  • To multi-causal theories (comparative
    politics, political economy)
  • IV. Causes of policy change (IVs)
  • V. Applications (DVs)
  • Causes of the expansion of the WS/HC systems in
    OECD countries
  • Causes of retrenchment/restructuring/resilience
    of WS/HC systems
  • VI. Course assignments

3
Health politics Contents, motivation and goals
of the course
4
HEALTH POLITICS Content and motivation
  • 1. Content and motivation of the course
  • A) Content
  • Application of political science theories to the
    health care sector
  • Based on the comparative-historical method ?
    tries to build the gap between qualitative
    case-studies and quantitative statistical studies
  • Focus on how to build and criticise concepts and
    theoretical arguments
  • B) Motivation
  • Compare health care (HC) with other sectors of
    the welfare state (WS)
  • Understand how the WS was built, and which were
    the causes of its emergence
  • The main distinctive feature of Europe?
  • Outside Europe, a lot of interest on how to
    replicate it
  • It can also help to understand how to mantain it
    or expand it further
  • Some paradoxes...
  • Health politics has been developed mainly by US
    scholars
  • In Europe, recent and often focused on how to cut
    back public health care
  • We know a lot about health policies (e.g. Managed
    competition), but little on how to introduce them
    (health politics)

5
HEALTH POLITICS Goals
  • 2. Goals of the course
  • A) Conceptual
  • Review and classify existing research traditions
    in political science
  • Learn how to build and criticise concepts and
    theoretical arguments in a convincing way
  • Learn how to build simple causal models out of
    complex theories and facts
  • Analyze the political determinants of health
    policy
  • B) Empirical
  • Assess the analytical goodness of fit between
    theory and evidence (validity)
  • Study the causes of health care (and welfare
    state) reform ? policy change
  • Focus on how to build universal WS/HC systems,
    and how to expand them
  • C) Practical
  • Develop analytical skills as well as
    (experiential) clinical eye from reform
    processes
  • Learn a new language concepts of political
    science and health system research

6
Political science Methods and problems
7
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • 1. Problems of political science (PS) research
  • 1.1. Lack of agreement across schools of thought
  • Divided across theoretical (which particular
    cause they emphasize) and ideological lines
    marxism, liberalism, structuralism, culturalism,
    pluralism, institutionalism, rational choice
  • Little communication, often tough competition and
    rivalry between them
  • ? Lack of agreement on how to define
    operationalize basic terms
  • E.g. Institutions
  • 1.2. Many variables, few cases
  • Object of study involves complex macro-social
    phenomena (e.g. WS) characterized by
  • Multidimensional concepts, meaning varies across
    time place, difficult to operationalize
  • A great number of potential causes, not
    independent among them
  • Long causal chains and complex causal mechanisms
  • Feedback effects, endogenous causation and
    selection bias (Przechevorski in Kohli)
  • Object of study (e.g. WS) often occurs only in a
    few cases (e.g. OECD countries)
  • Difficult to build simple concepts and models
    that can be tested across cases (reliability),
    but still resemble real world complexity
    (validity)

8
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • ? Three methodological approaches to adress such
    problems
  • Narrative case-study (N1) approach
  • Qualitative, in-depth study of a single case
  • Internal validity high but ad-hoc explanation,
    low reliability
  • No generalisation or theory-based explanation
    possible
  • Statistical (large N) analysis
  • Too many cases to know in-depth what happened in
    each of them.
  • Too little variables taken into account, simple
    or no causal mechanisms
  • External validity goes at the cost of internal
    validity
  • The comparative method medium-N (N2 or more)
  • Seeking a balance between number of cases and
    number of variables
  • Seeking a balance between internal validity and
    external validity
  • The goal is to build general theories, but based
    on cases researched in depth
  • The research design is quasi-experimental
  • Research techniques can be qualitative or/and
    quantitative

9
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • 1. Case(country)-based Small-N (1) studies,
    e.g. US Welfare State
  • Old research tradition historical, in-depth
    analysis of one case-study
  • It simplifies by reducing N so that all or most
    potential causes can be analysed
  • It allows a detailed analysis of
  • Specific characteristics of countries (e.g
    unique, model causes)
  • complex causal mechanisms, and
  • time sequence of events
  • GOOD INTERNAL VALIDITY (causes represent well
    real world complexity),
  • BUT
  • Little external validity (causes cannot be
    tested/applied to other cases)
  • It does not allow to discriminate between general
    and country-specific factors

10
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • 2. Variables-based Large-N studies, e.g. Causes
    of democracy
  • New research trends (modelling) study a few
    variables across a large number of cases
  • It simplifies by (1) selecting a few variables
    considered as key causes (2) reducing
    complexity or variability by making restrictive
    assumptions
  • (eg all the causes are independent of each other
    the causes are independent of the effects
  • causal sequence does not matter
  • Cross-national statistical studies are the main
    example (over 100 countries)
  • GOOD EXTERNAL VALIDITY (under tight, often
    unrealistic assumptions), but
  • Little internal validity too many omitted
    (extraneous) variables, disregards variables
    which are difficult to measure (often the most
    relevant), model is not a fair image of reality,
  • It is used by many schools that believe we can
    find general regularities across cases
  • The most radical is rational choice analysis
    game-theory, which works best when the
    restrictive behavioural assumptions of classic
    economics apply

11
Causal mechanisms in small-N case-studies
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Causal mechanisms in large-N case-studies
Self-interest
Assumptions eg Behaviour
Social interaction
Norms values
12
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • 3. The comparative-historical method
  • Thinking without comparison is unthinkable
    (Swanson, 1971 quoted by JK Helderman)
  • Seeks a balance between N and number of
    variables
  • N1 ( reference case/s). Case-study treated
    comparatively
  • Ideal type ( rest of cases) ? Often example of
    best practice
  • Deviant/critical case ( average case) ? Causal
    mechanisms contradict establised, general theory
  • N1 Sector 1/Sector 2 Time period 1/Time period
    2
  • N2, 3, 4. Matched comparisons
  • N gt 4. Requires
  • Combination of quantitative/qualitative. QCA, OLS
  • Secondary qualitative/historical evidence on Ngt4
    cases

13
Most-similar cases (method of difference)
  • Case 1
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • X
  • Outcome Y
  • Case 2
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • Not X
  • Outcome not Y

Main cause (X) is present in one case and missing
in the other. Both cases are similar (matched) in
all other respects. The main effect Y is present
when X present, and absent when X is absent
(points to a necessary and sufficient cause).
14
Case-study, before-after design
  • Case 1, T0
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • Not X
  • Outcome not Y
  • Case 1, T0
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • X
  • Outcome Y

Main cause (X) is present in one case and missing
in the other. Both cases are similar (matched) in
all other respects. The main effect Y is present
when X present, and absent when X is absent
(points to a necessary and sufficient cause).
15
Most-similar, graduation in cause-effect
  • Case 1, Sector 1
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • X0
  • Not Y

Case 1, Sector 2 A B C X1 Y1
Case 1, Sector 3 A B C X2 Y2
Main cause (X) is present to different degrees in
two cases and missing in the other. The cases are
similar (matched) in all other respects. The
effect Y is present when X present, and its
graduation corresponds to Xs one (additional
evidence of necessary and sufficient cause).
16
Close to most-similar, N4
  • Case 1
  • A
  • C
  • E
  • X
  • Y

Case 2 A C D Not X Not Y
Case 3 A B D X Y
Case 4 A B E Not X Not Y
Main cause (X) is present in two cases and absent
in the other two. The cases are only imperfectly
matched, but rest of potential causes do not
correspond to the effect (can be necessary or
suficcient, but not both). The effect Y is
present when X present., absent when is absent
(necessary and sufficient cause).
17
Most-different cases (method of agreement)
  • Case 1
  • A
  • C
  • E
  • X
  • Outcome Y
  • Case 2
  • B
  • D
  • F
  • X
  • Outcome Y

Main cause (X) is present in both cases. They are
very different in all other relevant respects.
This suggests that the effect Y always occurs
when X is present (necessary cause) the rest of
factors can be irrelevent or sufficient causes.
18
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • 3. The comparative-historical method (cont.)
  • It can be used for explanatory, descriptive and
    prescriptive analysis
  • A. Under a quasi-experimental research design, it
    can be used for inference (explanatory studies) ?
    Matched comparisons, QCA, OLS
  • QCA offers some advantages over OLS (Mahoney),
    eg
  • It allows for the different categories of a
    tipology - as the DV (eg Esping-Andersen and the
    three worlds of welfare capitalism) being
    explained by different combinations of causes
  • B. Less strict, more qualitative comparisons can
    be used for descriptive and prescriptive
    purposes, e.g.
  • Concept formation and categorization e.g.
    Definition and types of WS, the concept of
    representation (Pitkin)
  • Operazionalization of complex concepts e.g.
    Democratic institutions (Executive/Parliament
    Dominance, Federal/Unitary, Majoritarian/Consotiat
    ionalProportional, Corporatism/Pluralism) ?
    Liphart

19
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
  • 3. The comparative-historical method (cont.)
  • B. Less strict, more qualitative comparisons used
    in descriptive and prescriptive purposes, e.g.
    (CONT.)
  • Building hypothesis and evidence on
  • Complex case-specific interactions between IVs
  • Effect of historical accidents as sufficient
    causes
  • Temporal sequences of causes
  • Complex causal mechanisms
  • Mapping and comparing policy alternatives for
    policy-makers
  • Studying the key causal mechanisms of a case of
    best practice in order to imitate it
  • Uncovering specific temporal sequences of events
    in the history of a deviant case to facilitate
    removal of obstacles to change

20
CAUSAL MECHANISMS IN COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Sociopol. actors
Politicalactors
Process, interact.
Context
Policy
Institutions Resources
21
Types of theories
22
TYPE OF THEORIES CAUSES OF POLICY
  • III. Types of theories
  • From early theories monocausal (socioeconomic,
    cultural or institutional) determinism
  • Good for advising/influencing policy-makers
  • Often professional interests/ideology of
    researchers
  • Limitations of quasi-experimental, qualitative
    comparisons
  • Little information available
  • To multi-causal theories (comparative
    politics, political economy)
  • IV. Causes of policy change (IVs)
  • 1. Structural, cultural and convergence theories
    SOCIAL CONTEXT (audience)
  • 2. Actor-centred theories POLITICAL ACTORS
    (players/teams/clubs)
  • 3. Institutionalist theories INSTITUTIONS (
    rules of the game)
  • 4. Action-centred theories INTERACTIONS
    (game/league)
  • 5. Policy-centred theories PATH DEPEPENDENCE,
    FEEDBACK, LEARNING

CONCEPTUAL COMPLEXITY INCREASES
23
POLITICAL SCIENCE COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Exercise Amenta et al. 2004
Types of theories
  • EUROPE-BASED EXPLANATIONS
  • Modernization ec.development
  • Partisanship theory (SD, CD)
  • Coalition theories
  • Institutional theory centralization/
    /fragmentation of the polity
  • State-centred theory state capacity
    and autonomy state bureaucracy
  • Path-dependency, policy feedbacks
  • US-BASED EXPLANATIONs_
  • Race
  • Social movements (citizens. mob.)
  • Interest group theory capitalists
  • Public opinion
  • Patronage, non-ideological pol. parties
  • Democratic polity openess access
  • 1. Context theories
  • Structural,
  • Cultural
  • Convergence theories
  • 2. Actor-centred theories
  • Interest groups
  • Political parties
  • State-centred
  • State-society civil society
  • 3. Institutionalist theories
  • 4. Process-centred theories
  • 5. Policy-centred theories
  • Path dependence,
  • Policy feedbacks policy learning

24
Causes of policy change
25
CAUSES OF POLICY CHANGE Operationalization in
WS/HC research
  • Access participation
  • Policy strategies
  • Coalition-building
  • Competition and cooperat.
  • Changing resources
  • Learning
  • Conjunctural factors ec crisis, wars
  • Socioeconomic structure
  • Ownership, income
  • Education, knowledge
  • Social capital (status, connections)


CONTEXT
  • Sociopolitical structure
  • Cleavages and political identities
  • Values Culture and subcultures
  • Interest groups
  • Profesional assocs.
  • Poilitical parties
  • State authorities
  • Citizens PO/SM
  • Mass media
  • Distrib. of formal pol. power electoral law,
    constitution, federalism, corporatism
  • Contracts and org. structures
  • Norms of behaviour
  • Sanctions/incentives

POLITICS InteractionsProcess
Preferences Resources
INSTITUTIONS
POLITICAL ACTORS
Individual and collective
-
Formal and informal
  • Entitlements rights
  • Regulation by law (of power, ownership,
    financing, behaviour, contracts)
  • Redistribution Financing RA
  • Production of goods services

POLICY
Adapted from Walt and Wilson 1994
26
Assignments
27
ASSIGNMENTS
  • Presentation and participation in class (10
    10) ?
  • 1 or 2 students per article
  • 1 or 2 presentations
  • Summary, partly based on graphic tools
  • Criticisms to unclear or overstretched
    concepts, unconvincing arguments,
    counterarguments, lack of correspondence between
    concepts and evidence, insufficient evidence,
    important omitted variables, others
  • Course paper (30) ? Groups 2-4
  • History of Norwegian WS/HC compared with other
    case
  • Recent reforms expanding the HC sector compared
    with case
  • Exam (50) ? 5 December
  • Concepts and theories
  • Text to discuss

28
ASSIGNMENTS
Wed. 21 Sep., 1315-1600 Ana Rico The social context of health politics  Mechanic Rochefort 1996 Bouguet 2003 Svallsfors 1997
Wed. 28 sep., 1315-1600 Ana Rico Interest groups and political parties  Olsen 1982 Quadagno 2004 Hunold 2001
Wed. 5 Oct. 1015-1200 Student-led session Case 1 Interest groups in the US WS C2 Corporatism and professional self- regulation in EU HC. Navarro 1989 Quadagno 2004 Greß et al. 2004 Blom-Hansen 2000
Wed. 5 Oct., 1315-1600 Ana Rico The role of the state government, parliam-ent, and bureaucracy  Skocpol 1980 White 2003 Howlet Ramesh, ch.2.
Wed. 12 Oct., 1315-1600 Ana Rico Civil society policy experts, public opinion and mass-media Hall 1993 Manin 1989, ch6 Hoffman 2003
Wed. 19 Oct., 1015-1200 Student-led session Case 3 The political economy of the WS in US, UK Sweden Case 4 Mass media public opinion in Clintons HC reform Hall 1993 Weir Skocpol 1983 Jacobs 2001 Goldsteen et al 2001
29
ASSIGNMENTS
Wed. 19 Oct., 1315-1600 Ana Rico Institutions Division of powers, veto points and regulation Immergut 1992 Scharpf 2000
Wed. 26 Oct., 1315-1600 Ana Rico Action theories and the political process  Korpi 1989 Garrett 1993 Rico Costa 2005
Wed. 2 Nov., 1015-1200 Student-led session Case study 5 HC expansion in the UK, the US, and Canada Case study 6 The origins of the US WS Jacobs 1992 Maioni 1997 Briggs 2000 Jenkings and Brents 1989
Wed. 2 Nov., 1315-1600 Ana Rico The new welfare/health politics and the debate on retrenchment  Pierson 1996 Clayton Pontusson 1998 Tuhoy 1999
Wed. 9 Nov., 1015-1200 Student-led session Case 7 Evidence on retrenchment in WS Case 8 Politics of retrenchment in HC Korpi 2003 Allan Scruggs 04 Hacker 2004 Oliver 2004
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