Comparative politics engages in the systematic analysis and comparison of political activity, processes and behavior. The members of the comparative politics field at Rutgers are united by a common interest in explaining the dynamics of political change and in deploying and developing a wide range of conceptual and methodological tools in this endeavor. Members of the field have teaching and research interests that focus on the big questions that political scientists seek to explain and understand: What are the factors that facilitate or obstruct successful processes of democratization? What are the links between democratic and economic transitions? How do institutions shape national and global political processes? What is the relationship between politics and culture? Members of the field address these questions through both in-depth area-based and cross-national research. Scholars in our field have drawn on original qualitative and quantitative research in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.
The comparative politics field at Rutgers is distinctive in its interest and expertise in developing and bridging paradigms and theoretical orientations that address questions raised by such approaches as political culture, political economy, and new institutionalism. Rutgers has a very strong group of scholars working with these conceptual frameworks, employing a variety of approaches and methodologies. Members of the field are also currently active in addressing the ways in which debates and concepts in comparative politics help to understand important recent political events and new political trends such as accelerating globalization, the rise of new transnational political formations (enlarged European Union) or the post-communist and post-authoritarian transformations.
The comparative politics field maintains active ties with other cognate sub-fields in the Department of Political Science. Members of the field have also taken a leading role in founding and directing Rutgers Area centers on the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia. They maintain active professional and intellectual linkages with a wide range of research institutions, domestic and overseas universities, and professional networks.
Graduate courses offered in Comparative Politics are divided into a proseminar, a second tier of courses reflecting general comparative approaches, and a third tier of more specialized courses. Majors in the field are required to take at least five courses, including the proseminar, at least two second tier courses, and a least one third tier course. All majors must also pass a language competency test in the language most relevant to their field of interest. Competence in advanced quantitative method or formal game theory may be substituted for the foreign language requirement with permission from the field chair. All majors must have an adviser chosen from among the core faculty listed below.
Minors in Comparative are expected to take the proseminar and two second-tier courses.
Proseminar: (Tier 1)
16:790:503 Approaches to Comparative Political Analysis (required for majors and minors)
Scope and practice of the field: nature of comparison; approaches to comparison; examples of current research on selected topics.
Theoretical Foundations: (Tier 2)
16:790:540 Theories of Democratic Transitions
This course examines the conceptual framework surrounding the idea of democratic transitions. Topics covered include theoretical debates on the concepts of democracy and democratic transitions, conditions of democratic sustainability, the causes of authoritarianism, and methodological debates and approaches to the study of democratic transitions.
16:790:541 Political Culture
This course focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of different political culture approaches. Attention is also given to the importance of cultural variables for understanding political change.
16:790:542 Political Anthropology
Comparative analysis of selected examples of several major theoretical approaches to the analysis of culture, e.g., semiotics, phenomenology, hermeneutics, post-structuralism, and critical theory; and the application of these conceptual approaches to a wide variety of empirical studies. Examination of meaning in politics by focusing on the roles of symbol myth, metaphor, rhetoric, ritual, religion and performance in politics.
16:790:545 Theories of Political Economy
Survey of the classical and contemporary literature in the field from Smith and Marx to Lindblom and O'Connor. Special emphasis on normative, theoretical and empirical implications of competing schools of thought.
16:790:547 Foundations of Capitalism and the Modern State
Comparative historical development of Euro-American capitalism and state structures, from 1450 through the industrial revolution. The role of class relations, state elites, international economic and geopolitical forces.
16:790:630 International Political Economy
Topics which develop the theory of the structure and dynamic of the global political economy. A current emphasis is on the development of the post-Depression World War II international economy, especially relations among OECD countries. (Cross listed with International Relations)
Electives: (Tier 3)
16:790:523 Politics of Africa
Problems particular to African political development; colonial experience, one-crop economies, traditional social arrangements, ethnic particularism, and party organization.
16:790:539 Politics of the Middle East
The comparative analysis of nationalist movements, problems of social and cultural change, the Arab-Israeli dispute and inter-Arab politics. Examples drawn from historical and contemporary perspectives.
16:790:544 Collective Identity: Ethnicity & Nationalism
This seminar explores various approaches to the analysis of the ongoing political and cultural struggle to delineate the parameters of inclusion in, and exclusion from, social and political formations. Ethnic revitalization and nationalism are explored from historical and cross-cultural perspectives.
16:790:553 Special Topics in Political Economy: New Institutionalism in American and Comparative Politics
Introduction to "new institutionalism" in political science. Topics covered include neoinstitutionalist analyses of formal and informal political institutions, social movements, and interest groups, social policy and the welfare state, and state-society interactions. (Cross-listed with American Politics.)
16:790:554 Collective Protest and Social Movements
Review of main theories of contentious politics, social movements and protest. The main theoretical issues to be explored are the relationship between structure and agency, the role of culture in protest, and the transnationalization of contention.
16:790:555 Comparative Political Economy
Special reference to the Third World. Major periods of socio-political transformation: the breakdown of pre-capitalist social formations, imperialism, decolonization and revolutionary change. Theories of political economy stemming from the developing world.
16:790:561 Political Economy of Latin America
Relation between models of capital accumulation and the development of democratic and authoritarian regimes. Special reference to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.
16:790:593 Gender and Comparative Politics
This course will examine the major paradigms used in the study of comparative politics, followed by an examination of the major critiques of these paradigms put forward by feminist scholars working in the field. The course also focuses on systematic discussions of methodologies that have been used by scholars working in the intersections between comparative politics and women and politics (Cross-listed with Women and Politics)
16:790:594 Women’s Movements in Comparative Politics
Development and impact of women’s movements in cross-cultural perspective. Analysis of the conditions and implications of women’s participation in movements such as nationalist, labor, and independent women’s movement. (Cross-listed with Women and Politics)
16:790:686 Research in Comparative Politics.
Directed research for advanced students. An advanced seminar for Ph.D. candidates who plan to offer the comparative government and politics field for their degree will be offered when sufficient numbers warrant.