Comparative Politics

Sam Houston State University


Instructor: Dr. Rhonda Callaway         Office: AB1, Office 319E

Office Hours: MWF 10:00 – 11:00am and by appointment   Phone: 936-294-4108



Course Description


This course introduces students to some of the major concepts, methods and substance of comparative politics, mainly power, the emergence as well as failure of states, the issues nationalism and identity, democratization, political economy, human rights, and the effects of globalization. Students will explore these concepts taking into account different regime types, particularly advanced democracies, emerging or developing democracies, and finally non-democracies. We will examine not only the political nature of these states, but the economic nature as well. Students will also be introduced to human rights in a comparative fashion by examining conditions in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and in developed regions like North America and Europe . Ultimately, the student will be able to distinguish political, economical, social differences in the various types of regimes found around the world.



Specific course objectives include:

•  Students will gain factual knowledge and information regarding the concepts in comparative politics.

•  Students will learn fundamental principles and theories in the area of comparative politics, particularly how and why governmental regimes differ around the world.

•  Increase student analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills.



•  O'Neil, Patrick. 2004. Essentials of Comparative Politics.

•  O'Neil, Fields, and Share Cases for Comparative Politics (Your O'Neil text comes with a password for this online resource – please make note of this password in a safe place!)

•  New York Times . These are free. Pick one up and read the international section. We will use this to examine current events, which is central to the study of comparative politics.

•  Internet and Blackboard readings as indicated by the syllabus


Course Requirements


•  Exams ( 75%) There will be a total of three (3) exams, two during the semester and one during finals week. Each exam is worth 25% of your grade for a total of 75%. Note: only in exceptional, compelling, and documented cases can a student arrange to take an exam at some other time that that scheduled. My alarm didn't go off, car trouble, and relationship problems are your responsibility. Students must notify the instructor prior to the exam in order to schedule any type of make-up exam. If the student fails to notify the instructor and then misses an exam, the student will receive a zero for that exam.

•  Paper (15%) Each student will write a 6- 8 page paper examining a country of their choice (other than the 10 countries from Cases for Comparative Politics) . Your paper should include the elements found in the case studies such as political regime, political conflict, society, political economy. The paper is due on December 1, 2006.

•  Quizzes and Class Assignments 10% - Pop quizzes will cover geography, the course readings and lectures. Five pop quizzes will be counted toward your grade, out of a possible six quizzes given throughout the semester. There will be no make-up quizzes unless class is missed due to university-sponsored events. The make-up will consist of a one-page essay regarding the assigned reading.

•  Attendance: You are expected to attend class. There is a direct correlation between class attendance and performance!

•  Respect. Participants in this class should feel free to exchange ideas and arguments pertinent to the discussion at hand. If you have a difficult time tolerating disagreement with your views, perhaps this is not the class for you. HOWEVER, it is a MUST that you be respectful of other's opinions. While disagreement of ideas and views is tolerated, if not encouraged, the lack of respect and courtesy of others will not be tolerated.


Additional Information


Academic Dishonesty : Students are expected to maintain honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. See Student Syllabus Guidelines . Please be aware that plagiarized work will result in an “F” in the course. See the following web address for more information on academic dishonesty. . I have a plagiarism contract that must be signed in order to receive a grade in the course.


In general, plagiarism is defined as using another person's words and/or ideas as if they were your own. Your papers must be original work. If you use the exact words from another source in your academic papers, you must set off such quotes in quotation marks. After the closing quotation, you must provide an accurate citation which includes the author, date of publication, and page number. If you paraphrase, you still need to provide a citation. The citation within the text should look like the following:


The events of the Easter Uprising led to many Irish men and women immigrating to the United States . It was these ex-patriots that served as the link between the United States and Ireland . Adams goes so far as to argue that the survival of the IRA was in part due to “The enormous Irish-American population has always felt a strong sentimental attachment to ‘the old country' and this has been translated into a steady stream of cash and guns to the IRA” (Adams 1986, 134)


The complete citation must be provided in a bibliography.


Adams, James. 1986. The Financing of Terror: How the groups that are terrorizing the world get the money to do it. New York : Simon and Schuster.


Classroom Rules of Conduct: Students are expected to assist in maintaining a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. Students are to treat faculty and students with respect. Students are to turn off all cell phones while in the classroom. Under no circumstances are cell phones or any electronic devices to be used or seen during times of examination. Students may tape record lectures provided they do not disturb other students in the process.


Student Absences on Religious Holy Days : Students are allowed to miss class and other required activities, including examinations, for the observance of a religious holy day, including travel for that purpose. Students remain responsible for all work. See Student Syllabus Guidelines .


Students with Disabilities Policy : It is the policy of Sam Houston State University that individuals otherwise qualified shall not be excluded, solely by reason of their disability, from participation in any academic program of the university. Further, they shall not be denied the benefits of these programs nor shall they be subjected to discrimination. Students with disabilities that might affect their academic performance should visit with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities located in the Counseling Center . See Student Syllabus Guidelines .


Visitors in the Classroom : Only registered students may attend class. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis by the professor. In all cases, visitors must not present a disruption to the class by their attendance. Students wishing to audit a class must apply to do so through the Registrar's Office.



TENTATIVE SCHEDULE. Note: the professor reserves the right to make changes in the syllabus.




August 21    Organization and Scope of the Course;

•  Charles King, “The Six Evil Geniuses of Essay Writing” at

•  Charles King, “Writing a Political Science Essay” at

August 23    What is politics and political science?

•  Aristotle, Book 1, Parts 1-2 available on Blackboard or at

August 25    What is comparative politics? What does it mean to think comparatively?

•  O'Neil (Ch 1, pp. 1 - 15)


Week 2

August 28    What is comparative politics? Countries, Issues and Current Events

•  O'Neil (Ch 1, pp. 15-21)

August 30   Class doesn't meet:

•  Electronic assignment: Logon on to and set up account. Print and read the introductions for each of the 10 countries.

September 1   Class doesn't meet:

•  Library and Electronic assignment: Finish assignment from August 30. In addition, you must write a one-page essay proposing the country for the class paper. Remember, it cannot be one of the 10 case studies found online (nor the United States ). You proposal should include justification for the study.


Week 3

September 4   University Holiday – Labor Day

September 6    The State: Definition and Characteristics

•  O'Neil (Ch 2, pp. 22-30)

September 8    The State: Evolution of the Modern State from the European Experience

•  O'Neil (Ch 2; pp. 30-45)


Week 4

September 11    Evolution of the State: Non-European Experience

•  Bartoleme de Las Casas, Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies . (1542) at

September 13    Failed States: Security Issues

•  Failed States – A threat to national security?

September 15    Failed States: Subsistence Issues

•  Millennium Project Fact Sheet at


Week 5

September 18    Identity and Culture: The Nation versus the State

•  O'Neil (Ch 3, pp. 46-56)

•  China and India Case Study – Society Section

September 20    Identity and Culture: Nationalism and Ethnic Fragmentation

•  O'Neil (Ch 3, pp. 56-66)

•  Huntington , “A Clash of Civilizations”


September 22    Identity and Culture: Political Ideology

•  O'Neil (Ch 3, pp. 66-81)


Week 6

September 25    Human Rights and Cultural Relativism

•  The Challenge of Human Rights and Cultural Diversity at

•  Dali Lama, Human Rights and Universal Responsibility at

September 27    Ethnic Conflict: Genocide, Civil War and Torture

•  The Balkans: overview found at

•  Hukanovic, Rezak, “The Evil at Omarska” on Blackboard

September 29    Ethnic Conflict – Northern Ireland and Chechnya

•  United Kingdom Case Study – Society Section

•  Russian Case Study – Society Section


Week 7

October 2   EXAM 1

October 4   Rwanda - video

October 6   Rwanda - video


Week 8      International Political Economy

October 9    Political Economy – Overview

•  O'Neil (Ch 4, pp. 82-95)

•  David Ricardo, “On Foreign Trade” handout

October 11    Political Economy Liberalism and Social Democracy

•  O'Neil (Ch 4, pp. 96-103)

•  Adam Smith, “Wealth of Nations” found on Blackboard

•  United Kingdom Case Study – Political Economy Section

October 13   Political Economy – Mercantilism and Communism

•  O'Neil (Ch 4, pp. 103-117)

•  Alexander Hamilton, “Report on Manufactures” found at

•  Japan and Russia Case Study – Political Economy Section



October 16    Authoritarianism: Overview

•  O'Neil (Ch 5. pp. 119-129)

October 18    Authoritarianism: Characteristics

•  O'Neil (Ch 5, pp. 129-145)

October 20    Authoritarianism: Iran

•  Iran Case Study – Political Regime and Society section


Week 10

October 23    Authoritarianism: Communism

•  Read China Case Study (Political Regime, Political Conflict, and Society section)

Ian Buruma, “Inside the North Korean Slave State” found at

October 25    Authoritarianism: Fascist and Military States

•  Friendly Fascism available on Blackboard

October 27    Human Rights in Latin America

•  Reading - TBA


Week 11

October 30    Democracy – Overview and Characteristics

•  O'Neil (Ch 6, pp. 147-163)

November 1    Democracy - Institutions

•  O'Neil (Ch 6, pp. 163-175)

November 3   EXAM II


Week 12

November 6    Advanced Democracies: Overview and Geography

•  O'Neil (Ch 7, pp. 176-188)

November 8    Advanced Democracies: What does the Future Hold?

•  O'Neil (Ch 7, pp.188-207)

November 10    Advanced Democracies:

•  France Cast Study – Political Regime, Political Conflict, Society, and Political Economy sections.


Week 13

November 13    Communist and Post-Communist: Overview and Geography

•  O'Neil (Ch 8, pp. 208-214)

November 15    Communist and Post-Communist: Revolutions

•  O'Neil (Ch 8, pp. 214-225)

November 17    Communist and Post-Communist: Governments in Transition

•  O'Neil (Ch 8, pp. 225-244)

•  Country Study – China (Political Regime, Political Conflict, and Political Economy Sections)


Week 14

November 20    Communist and Post-Communist: Governments in Transition

•  O'Neil (Ch 8, pp. 225-244)

•  Country Study – Russia (Political Regime, Political Conflict, and Political Economy Sections)

November 22   Thanksgiving

November 24   Thanksgiving



Week 15

November 27    Emerging and Developing Democracies: Overview and Geography

•  O'Neil (Ch 9, pp.246-258)

November 29    Emerging and Developing Democracies: Democratization

•  O'Neil (Ch 9; 258-279)   

December 1    Emerging and Developing Democracies: Subsistence and Security Rights

•  Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa – TBA


Week 16

December 4    Emerging and Developing Democracies: Subsistence and Security Rights

•  Human Rights in Asia - TBA

December 6    Globalization: A Comparative Examination

•  O'Neil (Ch 10)


FINAL EXAM     Wednesday, December 13 (2:00pm – 4:00pm)