Comparative Politics

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The Comparative Politics is a branch of political science , in the center of the research included the (often also transnational) comparison of heads of state , government and forms of government and political structures and processes are. This happens, for example, when examining the connections between institutional structures and state action . The content of the subject goes beyond the usual boundaries of what is considered "Comparative Politics" (English comparative government is called), also.

While earlier comparative analyzes limited in political science mainly to political institutions, processes and content, the analysis extended since the 1960s under the influence of systems theory to political systems of a whole. Since then, comparative political science analyzes have also included factors affecting organized interests , political culture and the economy . Government systems , electoral systems and party systems are also important research fields in comparative political science . Representation and parliamentarianism research as well as system transformation research are also understood as facets of comparative political science. Comparative conflict research is also a special sub-area .


The term “comparative political science”, which has been used since the 1980s, became increasingly popular around the turn of the 21st century, in competition with the older, narrower term “comparative government theory”. Since then, the expression “comparative government theory” has been partially considered out of date. Other authors, who recognize that the importance of comparative government theory within the overall discipline of political science has declined significantly, consider it to be the more appropriate term for special analyzes that, for example, deliberately do not include policy field analyzes (belonging to the area of ​​comparative political science) .

Before that, there were various other proposals that - differently delimited - dealt with the same topic. Terms that were also used in book titles, such as the term “Comparative Analysis of Political Systems” in 1971 and “Comparative Political System Research” in 1980, could not generally gain acceptance. The last-mentioned formulations were attempts to translate the English technical term comparative politics and to thematize it in Germany in accordance with the term content common in the Anglo-Saxon language area. The field of comparative politics arose through much improved possibilities for researchers to obtain data. This is especially true for comparative data collected and published by governments, statistical authorities and various organizations .

This search for terms went hand in hand with a strong expansion of the subject area of ​​comparative political science research, which stood above the usual framework of "comparative government theory" (political institutions, processes and content). Comparative conflict research also represents a special sub-area . Thus, there is also an increasing number of differentiations such as comparative political cultural research or comparative policy analysis.

Development and importance

Comparative political science can be traced back to a comparative tradition that goes back to ancient Greece , especially the authors Thucydides and Aristotle . Since then the comparison of political conditions has been carried out by numerous political philosophers and scientists up to the present day. By critically examining one's own political circumstances using the example of others, the researcher contributes to overcoming one's own subjectivity and ethnocentricity . The aim of such investigations is to gain knowledge with which generally valid statements can be formulated.

Since the 1970s, the examination of special methods of comparative political science has gained in importance. In particular, the planning of comparative analysis designs and the systematic selection of cases moved more into focus. With the availability of IT-based data collection and evaluation, statistical methods also gained in importance. Quantitative methods went hand in hand with a greater degree of differentiation. The creation of indexes from a specific combination of data and multilevel analyzes are standard in science. Large-scale projects such as the Freedom House database make data on political science issues freely available across countries.

See also


Web links

  • Robert Schulz: Comparative Political Science. (No longer available online.) Private scientific blog, 2009, archived from the original on October 2, 2009 (extensive overviews).;
  • Josef Schmid: Lectures: Theories and Methods of Comparative Political Research. University of Tübingen, 2007–2008, video recordings with annotated time codes:
1st hour , 2nd hour , 3rd hour , 4th hour , 5th hour , 6th hour , 13th hour , 15th hour , 19th hour , 21st hour , 24th hour - search for more

Individual evidence

  1. Franz Lehner, Ulrich Widmaier : Comparative Government. 3. Edition. Opladen 1995, ISBN 3-8100-1366-8 , p. 9.
  2. a b c Matthias Catón: Political Science at Work: Perspectives for Political Scientists . Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-8360-4 , p. 15.
  3. ^ A b Frank R. Pfetsch : Conflict. In: Heidelberger Jahrbücher. No. 48, 2003, ISBN 3-540-23386-5 , p. 19.
  4. Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Ferdinand Müller-Rommel (Ed.): Comparative Political Science: An introductory manual . Opladen 1987, ISBN 3-8100-0564-9 , pp. ??.
  5. Ludger Helms: Political science institution research at the intersection of political theory and government theory. In: Ludger Helms, Uwe Jun (Ed.): Political Theory and Government Theory: An Introduction to Political Science Institutional Research. Frankfurt / New York 2004, ISBN 3-593-37239-8 , p. 14.
  6. Günther Döker: Comparative analysis of political systems: politics Comparative. Freiburg i. Br. 1971, p. ??.
  7. Jürgen Hartmann: Comparative political systems research. Concepts and Analysis. Cologne / Böhlau 1980, ISBN 3-412-01980-1 , p. ??.
  8. a b Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Ferdinand Müller: Development and significance of comparative political science . In: Same (ed.): Comparative Political Science: An introductory study manual. 4th, revised and expanded edition; Emphasis. Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-8100-3860-1 , pp. 13/14.
  9. a b Barbara Hilz: Corporate Social Responsibility in Germany and France. Munich 2008, ISBN 3-640-13080-4 , p. 10.
  10. ^ William Roberts Clark: Principles of Comparative Politics + Global Issues . 3rd edition 2016, p. ??.