PLCP 101: INTRO TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS (Fall 2004) (password: schoppa)
   TR 11:00-11:50 in Wilson 402


Prof. Len Schoppa
Office: Cabell 148 (tel: 924-3211)
Hrs: T & R 3:30 - 4:30 (or appt)

Americans, separated by the Atlantic, Pacific, Mexico, and Canada from the rest of the world, have often been prone to a kind of ethnocentrism when it comes to thinking about politics. We have the "separation of powers," "judicial review," a "two party system," and all those other wonderful things we learned about in high school government class, and we often find ourselves telling other countries that they ought to have all of these things too.

This course is designed, first, to show you that there are other ways of running politics besides the American way. We will be looking closely at the governments of Great Britain, France, Japan, China, and Brazil, examining parliamentary systems, multi-party systems, one-party dominant systems, communist party dominated systems, and systems seeking to establish themselves.

At the same time, the course is designed to introduce you to the field of "comparative politics" where we seek to understand why different countries have developed different kinds of governments and whether all of this makes any difference.


Students are expected to do all of the reading on a timely basis. Don't procrastinate because the reading gets heavier later in the semester! Your grade will be based on the following components: two in-class blue-book exams, each worth 20% of your grade, based on the lectures and the reading; one 5 page essay (10%); a 15 page term paper (30%); and participation in your discussion sections (20%).

The writing required for the course (which satisfies the university's Second Writing Requirement) is probably heavier than some of you may have expected. It is designed to provide you with some writing skills that should serve you well in subsequent upper-division courses. Your discussion grade will depend, as noted, on "participation," which means it will be an assessment of the degree to which you attend and contribute in a lively and informed fashion. The paper requirement asks you to choose and examine a "puzzling" pairing of one general theory about politics with one country other than the five studied in this course. It will be up to the student to identify the "puzzle," do some extra reading on the theory he or she will focus upon, and do library research on the country of choice. Both Prof. Schoppa and the TAs will provide additional guidance and will be available for consultations once you choose your topic.  On the web version the syllabus, you may click here for more information.


The following books will be read in full, or in large part. Copies are available in the book store. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you purchase a reader composed of the starred (*) articles, available at the Copy Shop, 5b Elliewood Avenue.

Kesselman, Krieger, and Joseph, Introduction to Comparative Politics, 3rd Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

Robert Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton University Press, 1993).

Jonathan Rauch, Governmentfs End: Why Washington Stopped Working (PublicAffairs, 1999).





KKJ, Intro to Comparative Politics, chapter 1.

Putnam, Making Democracy Work, chapters 1, 3, and 4 (This book will be discussed in section 9/9-10 with a focus on the question: what is Putnamfs general argument and how does he prove it?)

GREAT BRITAIN (9/9, 9/14, 9/16, and 9/21)

KKJ, Intro to Comparative Politics, chapter 2.

*Anthony King, gRunning Scared,h The Atlantic Monthly (January 1997): 41-61. (This article will be discussed in section 9/16-17 with focus on the question: should the U.S. adopt British political institutions?)

*Sven Steinmo and Jon Watts, gItfs the Institutions, Stupid! Why Comprehensive National Health Insurance Always Fails in America,h Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 20:2 (Summer 1995): 329-372. (This article will be discussed in section 9/23-24, with the question: do you accept Steinmo and Wattfs institutional determinism?)

FRANCE (9/23, 9/28, 9/30, and 10/5)

KKJ, Intro to Comparative Politics, chapter 3.

*Herman Schwartz, "The Industrial Revolution and Late Development," in his States Versus Markets: The Emergence of a Global Economy, 2nd ed (New York: St. Martins Press, 2000): 77-101. (This article will be discussed in section 9/30-10/1, with the question: do late developers have to have a larger state role in the economy in order to develop?)

In place of section 10/7-8, we will have an exam review session Wednesday 10/13 at 7 p.m.

MIDTERM (10/14)
No Section 10/14-15 as your TAs will be busy grading your blue books.  You may spend this time (together with some of your time over fall break) preparing a two-page proposal for your term paper, due at your section meeting 10/21-22.

JAPAN (10/19, 10/21, 10/26, 10/28, and 11/2)

KKJ, Intro to Comparative Politics, chapter 4.

*Seymour Martin Lipset, gAmerican Exceptionalism—Japanese Uniqueness,h in his American Exceptionalism (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996): 211-263. (This article will be discussed in section 10/21-22, with a focus on the questions: is Japanese political culture really gunique,h and can its political problems be credited more to this culture than to its institutions?)

*Michael Thies, gChanging How the Japanese Vote: The Promise and Pitfalls of the 1994 Electoral Reform,h in John Fuh-sheng Hsieh and David Newman, eds., How Asia Votes (New York: Chatham House, 2001): 92-117. (This article will be discussed in section 10/28-29, with a focus on the question: can you fix political problems by changing electoral rules?)


Rauch, Governmentfs End, chapters 1-6 (you may want to get started on this ahead of time because this reading will be among those you are asked about in your take-home essay).

Discussion section 11/4-5 will cover your term paper proposals and suggestions.


BRAZIL (11/9, 11/11, 11/16 & 11/18)

KKJ, Intro to Comparative Politics, chapter 6.

*Samuel P. Huntington and Joan M. Nelson, No Easy Choices: Political Participation in Developing Countries (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976): 17-41. (This article will be discussed in section 11/11-12, with a focus on the question: is there a trade-off between democracy and growth for developing nations?)

*Peter Evans, "The State as Problem and Solution: Predation, Embedded Autonomy & Structural Change," in Stephen Haggard and Robert Kaufman, eds., The Politics of Economic Adjustment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992): 139-181. (This article will be discussed at section 11/18-19 where you will be asked: is embedded autonomy the secret to economic development?)

CHINA (11/23, 11/30, 12/2, 12/7)

KKJ, Intro to Comparative Politics, chapter 7.

*Baohui Zhang, "Corporatism, Totalitarianism, and Transitions to Democracy," Comparative Political Studies 27:1 (April 1994): 108-136 (This article will be discussed at section 12/2-3, with a focus on the question: can Zhangfs argument explain why Brazil, and not China, has seen a transition to democracy?)

*Gabriella Montinola, Yingyi Qian, and Barry R. Weingast, "Federalism, Chinese Style: The Political Basis for Economic Success in China," World Politics 48 (October 1995): 50-81. (This article too will be discussed at section 12/2-3, with a focus on the question: can this theory explain why China, and not Brazil, has seen sustained 10 percent growth rates?)

TERM PAPER DUE ON 12/2 AT 11 am.

Section 12/9-10 will also be devoted to review for the exam.

EXAM (TUESDAY 12/14 FROM 10:30-12 noon)


You should notify me before the exams if, for some reason, you will not be able to make it on that date. Permission will only be given in exceptional cases, and make-ups will be scheduled either before or after the regularly scheduled date--at professor's convenience.  Note that final exams can only be rescheduled under strict conditions established under College rules.

The final grade on the paper will be docked one letter for every day it is late unless delay has been approved by me (based on a very good reason) at least a week before the due date. Last minute computer problems are not an excuse!!! Back-up your work on disks to avoid losing it, and leave time for you to deal with last minute hitches (like a broken printer, a line in the computer lab) by aiming to finish well before the deadline.


Taking the words and ideas of another and presenting them as your own (without proper use of quotation marks and citation) constitutes gplagiarismh and is considered grounds for trial and expulsion from the university through the Honor process.  In the past year, I have seen one of my students expelled for this reason and another failed for attempting to cheat on a final exam.  I take all cases of this type seriously and urge students to uphold the honor code.