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Foundations of Comparative Politics

Foundations of Comparative Politics

Second Edition

September 2024 | 520 pages | CQ Press
Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Principles of Comparative Politics, Fourth Edition!

Foundations of Comparative Politics, Second Edition presents a scientific approach to the rich world of comparative inquiry, research, and scholarship, providing a guide to cross-national comparison and why it matters. This condensed, more accessible format introduces students to the key questions in comparative politics, using brief insights from tools such as decision, social choice, and game theory to help them understand clearly why some explanations for political phenomena are stronger than others.

William Roberts Clark, Matt Golder, and Sona Nadenichek Golder concentrate on describing the core features of regimes and institutions and on analyzing how these fundamental attributes drive variation in the economic and political outcomes we care about most. This approach—constructing and testing theories on political phenomena over basic memorization of country-specific facts—more closely replicates what comparative scholars do to explain, rather than describe. Current examples that show the application of theory help students develop invaluable real-world skills in critical thinking and empirical analysis that they will carry with them long after the course is over.

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Part I: What is Comparative Politics?
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: What is Science?
Chapter 3: What is Politics?
Part II: The Modern State: Democracy or Dictatorship?
Chapter 4: The Origins of the Modern State
Chapter 5: The Economic Determinants of Democracy and Dictatorship
Chapter 6: The Cultural Determinants of Democracy and Dictatorship
Chapter 7: Democratic Transitions
Part III: Varieties of Democracy and Dictatorship
Chapter 8: Varieties of Dictatorship
Chapter 9: Problems with Group Decision Making
Chapter 10: Parliamentary, Presidential, and Semi-Presidential Democracies
Chapter 11: Elections and Electoral Systems
Chapter 12: Social Cleavages and Party Systems
Chapter 13: Institutional Veto Players
Part IV: Varieties of Democracy and Political Outcomes
Chapter 14: Consequences of Democratic Institutions


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Key features
  • Most chapters have been significantly updated to cover key advances in comparative politics research.
  • Text boxes were updated with new examples throughout the book on topics such as diversity and science, labor scarcity, populism, why people vote, gender quotas in dictatorship, and African military coups.
  • New or revised discussions of a number of key theories and significant topics including democratic backsliding and the early origins of democracy.
  • Data and citations were significantly updated throughout the book to reflect current research and statistics.
  • New learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter frame the chapter goals.
  • End of chapter problems have been revised and expanded to address new topics.
  • The core material of Principles of Comparative Politics, Fourth Edition has been condensed by almost 40% into a briefer, more accessible format that not only resonates with students but also allows instructors to more easily cover all material in a single semester.
  • Fourteen chapters have been updated and pared down to present only the most necessary information enhanced with plentiful visual features and connections to real-world examples.
  • The “What is Science?” chapter provides students with a foundational understanding of science and the scientific method so students can apply the lessons learned to survey the latest research in comparative politics and examine competing theoretical claims in later chapters.
  • A focus on essential characteristics of regimes and institutions helps students develop a deep understanding of the foundational principles of comparative politics.
  • Recurring theories and empirical results appear throughout the book to examine and explain political phenomena—enabling students to build a steady accumulation of theoretical and empirical knowledge.

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