Comparative Government Essay Topics

PS 210:Topics in Comparative Political Economy

Translating substantively significant political economy issues into researchable research problems is a challenge.The course objective will be to consider how these topics can provide the basis for research projects and dissertations in comparative politics and comparative political economy.Each class will explore both the substance of a particular problem to identify significant issues and the relation of those issues to questions of general interest in political economy and political science.The final course assignment will be a research paper that can be a master’s essay, an elaborated research design such as a draft dissertation prospectus, or a dissertation chapter.

Topics will include:

·The politics and the transformation of finance:Has the evolution of finance affected how governments and business interact.Was the transformation an inevitable result of technology and globalization or a policy choice? Was the crisis of 2008 the first financial collapse of the digital age?

oFinancial systems, once principally national and rooted around domestic deposits and investments, have been transformed.They are now both market-based and often global in character.Arguably this transformation, facilitated by Information Technology tools, is at the root of the financial collapse of 2008, and more generally has consequences for the politics ofdomestic economic governance and strategies for growth.

·Green Growth, Energy Transformations, and the Climate Debate: Domestic and International Issues

oWhile the Climate problem is “global”, the solutions will lie in major part in the transition of domestic energy systems from high carbon low efficiency to high efficiency low carbon.That transformation will be costly in the short run and does not produce automatic or evident economic gain. Why do some countries pursue strategies to transform energy systems while others do not? Can Green Sustain Growth?

·The Third Globalization and the Commodity Trap:Can Wealthy Countries Stay Rich in the face of emerging market competition?There are an array of questions here.

oThe decomposition of production and the transformation of services force us to reconsider the logic of value creation and, consequently, the dynamics of political economy.As production is outsourced and off-shored, where are jobs and who captures the value? Nationally rooted vertically integrated companies were the focus of debate and concern in the 20th century.They have given rise to cross national production net works.Services once feared to be the black hole of advanced economies have, enabled by information technology, become productivity drivers.For advanced countries these developments have created at once both a commodity trap potentially limiting productivity and wage increases, and escapes from that trap.These developments have also influenced the distribution of gains from growth.

§For emerging markets we consider how the fragmentation of production and the evolution of finance creates diverse points of entry into the global economy.What are the politics of Rapid Innovation Based Growth that has been central to growth strategies?

§For advanced countries the expanded competition across the value chain makes everything seem like a commodity and puts pressure on prices.Advanced country work forces face competition, thus, from increasingly diverse and skilled work forces in a variety of places.

–Are there escapes from the commodity trap?How can firms create and capture value in the advanced countries?

–The jobs producing an Apple product may be in China, but the value add is in the US.But can workers in the US share in that Bonanza?

§Will cloud computing, which is an ICT evolution of significance and not just an advertising slogan, make the commodity trap worse? Or will it provide advance countries a way out?The answer is not in the technology, but in the policies and politics of adoption and diffusion.

·Technology, International Trade, and Policy:What drives jobs, income and wealth?

oWhat policies can affect the distributive outcomes of the transformation of work?

·Globalization with Borders:Will borders evaporate, change meaning, or be redrawn in a era of globalization?Is the world flat, or was Christopher Columbus right?

oEurope and the Euro Crisis:Have politics created an economic crisis, or, conversely, has economic misjudgment generated a political debacle?Does the current crisis have implications for our understanding of the origins and evolution of the European community?

oHow does a nation’s regional neighborhood matter to its political and economic trajectory?

oAre tribal challenges to state authority in Iraq and the Catalan challenge to Spanish authority part of the same larger story.

There are two five-to-seven page papers for POL 4433: Comparative Government.

·         Paper I

·         Paper II

Basic Instructions:

·         Papers must be typed and double-spaced with a one-inch margin and a font size of 10 or 12.

·         Papers should be five to seven pages in length. (For graduate students:8-10).

·         Papers must be stapled.

·         Please, no folders or binders.

·         Papers are due the beginning of class

·         If you are late to class turning in your paper, it will be a one-point deduction per minute that you are late.

·         If you fail to attend class your paper will not be accepted.

·         If you have a planned absence (i.e., field trip, etc.) then your paper is due before you leave. If you send a friend to turn it in for you, the above rules and conditions still apply!

PAPER I: Issues in Comparative Politics

This assignment is to be a “first crack” at applying concepts from comparative politics to an actual case. The goal is for you to:

1)        Demonstrate understanding of specific concepts.
2)        Demonstrate an ability to apply a concept/set of concepts to a particular case.
3)        Demonstrate a rudimentary ability to find suitable research materials.

Pick a concept (examples listed below) that is applicable to comparative political inquiry (use the readings as a guide, or feel free to talk to me about a concept). Take that concept and apply it to a specific case (i.e., a nation-state). In your paper you should:

1)        Provide a working definition of your concept.
2)        Explain how that concept applies to your case.
3)        Demonstrate, though analytical reasoning, how and why the concept/concepts furthers our
           understanding of the given case.
4)        Explain, through analytical reasoning, how and why the case helps to further our
           understanding of the given concept.

You must use (and cite, in proper bibliographic format) at least five scholarly sources (not counting any course readings) for this assignment.You may use course readings, but they do not count as one of your five.

Do NOT simply write an expository report.

EXAMPLES
political culture

political parties

democracy

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS

The first assignment is designed for you to select a political science concept that has comparative value (almost all do) and to try and apply it to a specific country, and then engage in some analytical criticism about that concept.

Be sure to do the following in your paper:

·        Formulate a clear thesis.See this link for an excellent definition of a “thesis”:http://nutsandbolts.washcoll.edu/beginning.html#thesis.This thesis should be presented in your first paragraph along with a general framing of your topic.

·        The first part of the paper will deal with the concept.What is the concept you are using? How is it defined? Remember: go beyond just a dictionary definition. In the literature that you have found do you see agreement over the definition? Do you find any problems in defining the term? Do you have any observations about how the term ought be defined?This component should probably be based on two-to-three of your sources (if not all of them, depending on what you find).

·        Introduce your case and then discuss how the concept could be used to help us understand the case a little better.This component should take up two-to-three sources. If you find sources that specifically discuss the case in light of the given concept, so much the better. It may be necessary to find general works on the given case and extrapolate how the concept helps explain the case.

·        Consider if you understand the case better after applying the given concept to it. Further, does the concept make more sense after applying it to the case? In what way? Are there problems with the concept once it is applied to the case?

CLARIFICATION ON SOURCES:

Basically you will need two or three sources that discuss your concept in the abstract. Your remaining sources should be general political science works on your case and/or political science works that discuss your case in the context of your concept.

Chiefly you are looking for books and journal articles.

“Scholarly Sources” means:

·         Books written by Ph.D.'s or other "experts" which set forth new ideas

·         Political science journals (e.g., APSR, AJPS, PSJ, PSQ)

·         Elite opinion/analysis journals (e.g., Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Current History)

PAPER II: Comparing Democracies

In this assignment you will do a two-case comparative analysis of the with another democracy. You will need to select a comparable case other than a case already discussed in class and then select a variable to form the basis of the comparison.

Some possible variables include:

·         Type of territorial organization (Federalism, Centralization)

·         Number of parties in the party system

·         Electoral System (PR v. single-member district, etc.)

·         Type of legislature (congressional v. parliamentary)

·         Type of executive (president v. prime minister v. mix)

·         other as approved by Dr. Taylor

In your analysis 1) provide a definition of the concept in question, 2) details the differences between the two cases, and 3) provide an analysis as to how and why the differences affect the cases in question.

You must use (and cite, in proper bibliographic format) at least five scholarly sources (not counting any course readings) for this assignment.

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