McCormick Syllabus



Our purpose in this course will be to develop a foundation for the advanced study of comparative politics. Most weeks we will assess the assumptions, uses, implications, and limits of one the major paradigms used in comparative politics. We will read and review many seminal works in comparative politics. Students will gain an idea of the breadth of the field, its development in recent decades, tools for evaluating literature, and ideas about how to design and conduct research. Above all, we intend to stimulate creative, critical, and systematic thinking about comparative politics.


  1. Critical Reviews (40%). Students will write 8 papers (each strictly limited to 3 pages) reviewing one week’s required readings. Each of these papers will evaluate the strengths and weakness of that week’s paradigm (or for weeks II or III, reflect on relevant epistemological issues). Students may choose which weeks’ to submit papers, but must submit their paper before the relevant class. In grading reviews, I will favor analysis over description, and will be looking for critical insight, systematic thinking, and creativity.
  2. Term Paper (35%). Students will write a final paper of no more than 15 pages evaluating the relative merits of two or more paradigms for research on a topic of their choice. Drafts of these papers will be presented at the last meeting of this seminar. While paper grades will mainly be based the final draft, timely submission of a useful first draft is required for full credit. In grading term papers, I will be looking for an informed, insightful and creative understanding of how different conceptual approaches to a problem can influence substantive findings.
  3. Class participation (15%). Students will be rewarded for creative, critical, and consistent participation in classroom discussion. This will require arriving in class with a solid grasp of each week’s required readings. Participation grades will consider self- and peer-evaluations.
  4. Paper Reviews (10%). Students will submit brief reviews of some of their peers’ paper drafts following the last week’s paper presentations.
  5. Mid-term and final exams will be administered only if the instructor determines that more work is required to gain a satisfactory grasp of the readings. If exams are administered, they will each constitute 20% of final grades and the weight of all other components will be adjusted accordingly.


  • Regular attendance is required.
  • Readings marked with an asterisk are recommended, all others are required.
  • All written work will conform to normal academic style, e.g., typed, 10-12 point fonts, standard margins, double-spaced, page numbers, consistent system of footnotes, bibliography, etc.
  • Late papers may be penalized, except in case of truly tragic or uncontrollable circumstances. Advance warning of absences and missed deadlines may improve the prospects for mercy.
  • Plagiarism may be punished as severely as university regulations allow.



I (Aug. 30) Introduction

II (Sep. 6) Epistemologies and Purposes

Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation” in Gerth and Mills (eds.) From Max Weber (New York, 1946) 129-56

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Routledge, 1992) 27-49

*Imre Lakatos, “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes” in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge: Proceedings of the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, London, 1965 v4 ed. Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970) 91-197

Donald N. McCloskey, The Rhetoric of Economics (Madison, 1985) 3-54

Stephen Toulmin, Foresight and Understanding (NY, 1961) 18-43

Roger M. Smith, “Should We Make Political Science More of a Science or More about Politics?” PSOnline (June 2002) 199-201.

Charles Taylor, Philosophical Papers: Volume 2, Philosophy and the Human Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985) 58-91, *15-57.

*Alfred Schutz, “Common Sense & Scientific Interpretation of Human Action” in M. Natanson (ed) Philosophy of the Social Sciences (New York: Random House, 1963), 302‑54

III (Sep. 13) Paradigms

T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, 1962) 1-110

Freeman J. Dyson, The Sun, The Genome, and the Internet: Tools of Scientific Revolutions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) 1-21)

Bent Flyvberg, Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 25-49.

*Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treaties in the Sociology of Knowledge (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966).


IV (Sep. 20) Karl Marx

*K. Marx, “Estranged Labour” in The Marx-Engels Reader ed. R. Tucker (NY, 1978)

K. Marx, “The German Ideology” ibid. 147‑75 (*176‑200)

K. Marx, “Capital” ibid. 294‑376

K. Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party” ibid. 469‑500

*K. Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon” in Karl Marx on Revolution ed. S.K. Padover (NY, 1971) 243‑328

*K. Marx,”The Civil War in France” ibid. 332‑372

*K. Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Program” The Marx-Engels Reader op. cit. 525‑41

V (Sep. 27) Max Weber

M. Weber, “Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action” in Weber, Economy and Society(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978) 4-24

M. Weber, “The Types of Legitimate Domination” ibid, 212-54

M. Weber, “The Market: Its Impersonality and Ethic” ibid. 635‑40

M. Weber, “Politics as a Vocation” in From Max Weber ed. Gerth & Mills (NY, 1981) 77‑128

*M. Weber, “Parliament and Government in a Reconstructed Germany:” ibid. 1381-1462

*M. Weber, “Socialism” in Weber: Selections and Translations ed. W.G. Runciman (NY, 1978) 251‑62

M. Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (NY, 1958) 155-83


VI (Oct. 4) Systems Theory (Functionalism)

A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, Structure and Function in Primitive Society (New York: Free Press, 1965), 133-53.

T. Parsons The System of Modern Societies (Engelwood Cliffs, 1971) 1‑28

D. Easton Systems Analysis of Political Life (NY, 1965) 3‑33

G. Almond & B. Powell Comparative Politics (Boston, 1966) 1‑42

C. Wright Mills The Sociological Imagination (NY, 1959) 25‑49

*David Zaret “From Weber to Parsons and Schutz: the Eclipse of History in Modern Social Theory” American Journal of Sociology 85:5 (1980) 1180-1201

*A. Szymanski “Malinowski, Marx, & Functionalism” Insurgent Sociologist II (Summer 1972)

VII (Oct. 11) Political Culture

*A.H. Smith, Chinese Characteristics (NY, 1894)

*L.W. Pye, “Introduction: Political Culture and Political Development” in Political Culture and Political Development ed. Pye & Verba (Princeton, 1965) 3‑26

G. Almond & S. Verba, Civic Culture (Boston, 1965) 1‑44

*H.J. Wiarda, “Social Change & Political Development in Latin America” in Politics and Social Change in Latin America ed. Wiarda (Amherst, 1974). 269‑92

Robert Inglehart, “The Renaissance of Political Culture” American Political Science Review82:4 (December, 1988), 1203-30.

Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, 72: 3 (Summer, 1993) 23-49

C. Geertz, “Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture” & “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” in C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture (NY, 1973) 3‑30, 412‑53

*Victor Crapanzano, “Hermes Dilemma: The Masking of Subversion in Ethnographic Description.” Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography , ed. James Clifford and George E. Marcus, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986) 51-76, esp. 68-76

*Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington (eds.), Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 2000).

VIII (Oct. 18) Rational Choice Theory

Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy. (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1957) 3-50

*J. Buchanan and G. Tullock, The Calculus of Consent (Ann Arbor, 1962)

Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 5-52

*Gary w. Cox, Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World’s Electoral Systems (New York: Cambridge University Press: 1997) 69-98, 225-37

Donald P. Green and Ian Shapiro, Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994) 1-46

Jeffrey Friedman, “Introduction: Economic Approaches to Politics” in The Rational Choice Controversy: Economic Models of Politics Reconsidered ed. Jeffrey Friedman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996) 1-24

Chalmers Johnson and E.B. Kleehn, “A Disaster in the Making: Rational Choice and Asian Studies.” The National Interest 36. (Summer, 1994) 14-22

Robert H. Bates, “Area Studies and the Discipline: A Useful Controversy?” Political Science and Politics 30:2 (June, 1997) 166-9

*Robert H Bates, Rui J P de Figueiredo Jr, and Barry R Weingast, “The Politics of Interpretation: Rationality, Culture, and Transition,” Politics and Society, 26:4 (December, 1998) 603-42

*Gerardo L. Munck, “Game Theory and Comparative Politics: New Perspectives and Old Concerns” World Politics 53:2 (2001) 173-204

IX (Oct. 25) Comparative Political History

Stephen Jay Gould, “Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples” in Bully for the Brontosaurus ed. Gould (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991) 124-39

Robert Wright, “The Accidental Creationist: Why Stephen Jay Gould Is Bad For Evolution,” The New Yorker, Dec. 13, 1999

Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966) esp. 413-52

George Ross, et. al., “Barrington Moore’s Social Origins and Beyond: Historical Social Analysis since the 1960s”, in Democracy, Revolution, and History ed. Theda Skocpol (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998) 1-21

Brian Downing, “War and the State in Early Modern Europe”, ibid., 25-54

Edward Friedman, “Development, Revolution, Democracy, and Dictatorship: China versus India?” ibid., 102-126

X (Nov. 1) Political Development

*Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (New York: Free Press, 1958)

W.W. Rostow, Stages of Economic Growth (London, 1960) 1‑16

S.P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, 1968) 1‑92

*A.G. Frank, “Development & Underdevelopment in the New World: Smith & Marx vs. the Weberians” Theory & Society 2 No. 4 (Winter, 1975) 431‑67

*F.H. Cardoso, “Associated-Dependent Development” in Authoritarian Brazil ed. A. Stepan, (New Haven, 1973) 142‑76

*I. Wallerstien, Historical Capitalism (London, 1983)

Robert Putnam, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979) 121-85

Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” The National Interest, 16 (Summer, 1989) 3-35

*Sheri E. Berman, “Modernization in Historical Perspective: The Case of Imperial Germany” World Politics 53.3 (2001) 431-462

XI (Nov. 8) The State

A. Stepan, “Liberal-Pluralist, Classic Marxist, and ‘Organic-Statist’ Approaches to the State” in Stepan State and Society (Princeton, 1978) 3‑46

*R. Miliband, “Marx and the State” in Miliband Class Power and State Power (London, 1983) 3‑25

*Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, 1971)

Michael Mann, “The Autonomous Power of the State: Its Origins, Mechanisms and Results” in States in History ed. J.A. Hall (London, 1987) 109-136

Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolution (NY, 1979) 3-43

Chalmers Johnson, MITI & the Japanese Miracle (Stanford, 1982) 1‑34

Joel S. Migdal, “The State in Society: An Approach to Struggles for Domination,” in Joel S. Midgal, Atul Kohli and Vivienne Shue (eds.), State Power and Social Forces: Domination and Transformation in the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) 7-34

*Peter J. Katzenstein, Small States in World Markets (Ithaca, 1985)

*Gwenn Okruhlik, “Rentier Wealth, Unruly Law, and the Rise of Opposition: The Political Economy of Oil States” Comparative Politics 31:3 (April, 1999) 295-315

XII (Nov. 15) New Institutionalism

James G. March and Johan P. Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions: The Organizational Basis of Politics (New York: Free Press, 1989), 1-52, 159-72.

Douglas C. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990) 3-35.

*Kathleen Thelen, “Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics” Annual Review of Political Science (1999:2) 269-404.

*B. Guy Peters, Institutional Theory in Political Science (London: Pinter, 1999).

David Bachman, Bureaucracy, Economy and Leadership in China: The Institutional Origins of the Great Leap Forward (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) esp. 29-58, 214-36.

Jasper Becker, Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine (New York: Free Press, 1996) 58-96.

*Geraldo L. Munck, “Democratic Politics in Latin America: New Debates and Research Frontiers” Annual Review of Political Science (2004:7) 437-62.

XIII (Nov. 22) Political Economy

*Alexander Gerschenkron, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective, a Book of Essays (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard, 1962)

Robert H. Bates, Markets and States in Tropical Africa: The Political Basis of Agricultural Policies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981) 1-45

Stephan Haggard, Pathways from the Periphery: The Politics of Growth in the Newly Industrializing Countries (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), 1-48

Peter Hall, Governing the Economy: The Politics of State Intervention in Britain and France (London: Oxford University Press, 1986) 3-22, 227-83

Duane Swank, Global Capital, Political Institutions, and Policy Change in Developed Welfare States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 274-89

*Minxin Pei, From Reform to Revolution: The Demise of Communism in China and the Soviet Union (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994)

XIV (Nov. 29) Post-Modernity

Jane Tompkins “A Short Course in Post-Structuralism” College English, 50:7 November 1988, 733-47

Jacques Derrida. “Declarations of Independence.” New Political Science 15 (1986) 7-15

*Jacques Derrida. “The Ends of Man.” After Philosophy: End or Transformation? ed. K. Baynes, J. Bohman, and T. McCarthy. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987) 119-158.

Michele Barrett. The Politics of Truth : From Marx to Foucault. (Cambridge: Polity, 1991) 123-155

“Michel Foucault” in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-77 ed. Colin Gordon (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1980), 109-34

*M. Foucault Discipline and Punish (NY, 1979)

Jürgen Habermas. “Modernity – An Incomplete Project.” The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. by Hal Foster. (Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983) 3-16

*Jean-Francois Lyotard translated by Regis Durand. The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1984)

XV (Dec. 6) Paper Presentations

Final Papers Due: Monday, Dec. 12