Introduction to Comparative Politics

Political Science 003

Fall 2004


Prof. Lee Ann Banaszak                                               Time:  MW 2:30-3:20 p.m.                  

Office: 232 Pond Laboratory                                        108 Forum                                          

Office Hours:  W 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

                        Or by appointment

Phone: 865-6573                    

E-Mail:  LAB14@PSU.EDU                           

Web Page:


Teaching Assistants:


Sections 1,2 and 3:                 Sections 4, 5, and 9:               Sections 6, 7, and 8:

Young-Hun Kim                       Jonah Victor                             Maria Inclan

            214 Pond Laboratory               322 Pond Laboratory               322 Pond Laboratory

            865-6230                                 863-1594                                 863-1594



Hrs:     Thurs. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Monday 10a.m.-12p.m.            Monday 4-6 p.m.



Course Description. 


This course is designed as an introductory course about comparative politics -- the study of domestic politics in different nations.  The goals of this course are twofold.  First, by the end of this course you should have acquired information about the politics of a number of different countries in various parts of the world.  This factual knowledge provides the basis for understanding other political systems and the changes which are occurring in these systems.  Second, and more importantly, through this course you should begin to develop a means for interpreting and explaining what happens in the world.  Thus, substantial pieces of the course will be devoted to developing a general understanding of politics in different systems through comparing and contrasting different countries and the introduction of theories and concepts which help us understand the way politics work.



Required Readings.


Sodaro, Michael J.  2001.  Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction.  New York: McMillan Publishing Co.


The New York Times:  All students are required to read stories in the weekly The New York Times (excluding weekend newspapers) about politics in other countries.  While other newspapers may provide similar coverage we will be referring to specific newspaper stories in lecture and section.  If you chose a different paper, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are getting the same information that you need.  We will be discussing current comparative politics stories in section and occasionally in lecture.  Any material of this type discussed in lecture or section as well as major news stories are fair game for the exams. 


Course Requirements and Grades.


Student Responsibilities:  The class will meet Monday and Wednesday from 2:30 pm to 3:20 pm.  In addition, all students must attend a weekly recitation section.  Class and recitation sessions will be devoted to lectures and discussion.  We will often cover material not included in the reading and this material WILL be tested.  Therefore, it is your responsibility to attend class or to obtain good lecture notes from fellow students when you miss class.  It is also important to have read and thought about the assigned portions of the text prior to the class period.  Otherwise you risk being lost or confused by what is said in class and being unable to participate in discussions. 


Grades:  Grades will be determined by a strict percentage; I do not curve exam grades.  The grading scale is as follows:

A                     94 – 100

A-                    90 -  93

B+                   87 -  89

B                      83 -  86

B-                    80 -  82

C+                   76 -  79

C                     70 -  75

D                     60 -  69

F                      below 60


1)  There will be two unit exams -- one on October 4th and one on November 8th.  Each exam will be worth 25% of your grade and will cover the information in that unit. 


2)  The final exam will be cumulative, covering all course material, although the emphasis will be on material covered since the second unit exam.  It will be held in the scheduled exam period during finals week, and will account for 30% of the grade.  You should check the final exam schedule when it becomes available.  Only those students filing for a conflict exam will be allowed to switch the date they take the final exam.  Airline tickets home or to the Bahamas are not valid excuses for needing to switch the date of the exam.


3)  The final 20% of your grade will be determined by your attendance and participation in recitation sections, and quiz grades in recitation section.  


Makeup Exam Policy


NO MAKEUP EXAMS will be allowed unless written proof is provided of a serious emergency (e.g. hospitalization, death of a parent).  In such cases, you must contact me as soon as possible (when possible prior to the exam); failure to do so will result in an F for the exam. In these rare cases, the makeup exam will be in essay format and include material covered in the intervening period.


Extra Credit Policy


No extra credit will be given on an individual basis.  Two forms of extra-credit are available in this class to all students: in-lecture minute papers and web-based quizzes. 

In-lecture minute papers.  While we cannot take regular attendance in lecture, you will occasionally be asked to hand in an in-class writing assignment or short quiz.  These will not be graded but will serve to allow you to reflect on the day’s lecture topic or give feedback on the lecture.   Since participation in the lecture is part of this assignment, there are no excused absences for these in lecture writing assignments. If you’re not in class when the assignment is given, you cannot make them up.  These assignment will only be used in close calls (that is, when your final grade is close to a higher grade) to bump people up to the higher grade.

Extra-credit quizzes.  These can be worth at most 2% of your total final grade.  Six quizzes will be available starting at different times throughout the semester.  Once a quiz becomes available you may take it at any time in the next six weeks; however, your grade will be discounted 25% after the quiz has been available for 3 weeks.  Therefore to get full extra credit you will want to take the quiz as they are made available (new quizzes will be announced in lecture).

To take a quiz, go to the web site of university testing services (  From there you will be asked to enter your e-mail user id and your Access Account Password.  When you click on the “Continue” button, you will see a list of all of you classes using the web-based testing.  Clicking on PL SC 3 will give you a list of all of the quizzes for the semester.  Clicking on the quiz will give you the first question.  Two important points about taking the quiz:

§         Do not use the browser “Forward” or “Back” buttons to move back and forth within a quiz.  If you do this, the program will automatically submit the exam, and you will receive a zero on any questions you have not yet answered.  Be sure to use only the “Next” key to take the quiz.  Once you hit the “Next” button, you are submitting your final answer and there is no going back.  Once you see the next question, you cannot go back and change an answer (or mark an answer) to a previous question.  So be careful. 

§         If there is no activity on the webpage for 10 minutes, the system will kick you out.  You will then need to reenter the system and take the quiz again. 

§         You should take a quiz only once!  Repeat quizzes will not be included in your extra credit points.

§         One advantage of web-based quizzing is that you have more freedom to learn the material in the way that best suits you.  Feel free to discuss questions with other members of the class and consult your book and/or notes.  However, you may not ask other students to take a quiz for you, either by giving them your access id and password, or by having them sit nearby and simply give you the answers.  This is an act of academic dishonesty.



Academic Honesty Policy


The Student Guide to University Policies and Rules states: “Academic dishonesty includes...cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor or tampering with the academic work of other students.” (p. 43)   Students caught committing acts of academic dishonesty will receive an F in the course and will be referred to Judicial Affairs for further possible sanction.  




Tentative Schedule and Readings



A General Overview of Comparative Politics


SECTION                   Introduction to Section; What is Comparative Politics


9/1                               Introduction to Policies and Procedures and Overview of the Course    


SECTION                   **No discussion sections**


9/8                               The study of Comparative Politics        

                                    Reading:  Chapter 3 (1st and 2nd editions)


SECTION                   Hypothesis development with different political systems


9/13                             Different Types of Political Systems

                                    Reading:  Chapter 2 (1st and 2nd editions)


9/15                             Political Divisions within Nations          

                                    Reading:  Review Chapter 2  (1st and 2nd editions)


SECTION                   Totalitarianism vs. authoritarianism and polarized cleavages revisited;


9/20                             Power, Domination, and Legitimacy

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 5 or 2nd edition: Chapter 4


9/22                             The Concept of the State

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 6 or 2nd edition: Chapter 5


SECTION                   TBA

Tentative Schedule and Readings (continued)


9/27                             Nations and Nationalism

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 7 or 2nd edition: Chapter 6


9/29                             Ethnicity and Citizenship           

                                    Reading:  Review 1st edition: Chapter 7 or 2nd edition: Chapter 6


SECTION                   Review for Exam



10/4                             First Exam     


10/6                             What is Democracy?


SECTION                   TBA



10/11                           What is Democracy continued?  Consociational vs. Majoritarian Systems

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 8 or 2nd edition: Chapter 7


10/13                           Presidential vs. Parliamentary systems  

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 9 and pp. 372-378 and 457-462

or 2nd edition: Chapter 8 and


No Section – Fall Break



10/18                           Governmental Instability in Presidential and Parliamentary systems

                                    Reading:  Review 1st edition: Chapter 9 and pp. 372-378 and 753-761

or 2nd edition: Chapter 8 and pp. 342-348 and 633-640


10/20                           Different electoral systems        

Reading:  1st edition: pp.398-407, 511-514 and review Chapter 9

or 2nd edition: pp. 362-372,  457-460 and review Chapter 8


SECTION                   Simulations of different electoral and party systems

Tentative Schedule and Readings (continued)


10/25                           Introduction to political parties and Party systems

                                    Reading 1st edition: Chapter 11 or 2nd edition:  Chapter 10




10/27                           Different types of political parties          

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 13 or 2nd edition: Chapter 12


SECTION                   Coalition building and party types



11/1                             Interest group politics in different nations

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Review pp.255-266 or 2nd edition: pp.242-251


11/3                             Political Attitudes and Democracy

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 12 or 2nd edition: Chapter 11


SECTION                   Review for Exam



11/8                             Second Exam




Non-democratic Political Systems



11/10                           Introduction to Non-democratic Institutions      


SECTION                   Review different types of authoritarian systems


11/15                           Transitioning to Democracy      

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 10 or 2nd edition: Chapter 9


11/17                           Governmental arrangements in Communist Systems

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 22 and 634-656

or 2nd edition:  Chapter 20 and 525-545


SECTION                   More on Democratic transitions



11/22                           Government Linkages in Non-democratic Systems       

                                    Reading:  Review 1st edition: Chapter 22 or 2nd edition:  Chapter 20

Tentative Schedule and Readings (continued)



11/24                           No Class – Thanksgiving Break


No Section – Thanksgiving Break


11/29                           Military governments

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Pp. 809-830 or 2nd edition:  Pp.687-706



Politics and Economics


12/1                             The problems of moving from centrally planned systems

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Read Chapter 14 and Review Chapters 21 & 22

or 2nd edition: Read Chapter 13 and Review Chapters 19 & 20


SECTION       Economic issues in democratic countries


12/6                             Economically developing countries       

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Chapter 15 or 2nd edition: Chapter 14


12/8                             Economic policies and problems in developing countries

                                    Reading:  1st edition: Pp. 764-769 and review Chapter 15

or 2nd edition: Pp. 643-647 and review  Chapter 14


SECTION       Review for Final Exam