Comparative Politics is a field in Political Science. As its name suggests, in comparative politics is all about the comparison in politics. In comparative politics, we study about the comparison between different political practices in different states. In easier words, we can say that comparative politics is a study about the different politics in different countries and compare them with each other.
Comparative politics is the study of domestic politics, political institutions, and conflicts between the two countries. Comparative politics combines the study of comparison of political experience, institutions, behavior, and processes of the systems of government in two or more different countries. In Comparative politics, the study of extra-constitutional agencies and their immediate connection is also included.
Brisbane had defined Comparative Politics as Comparative politics is the identification and interpretation of factors in the whole social order which appears to affect whatever political functions and their institutions which have been identified and listed for comparison.
Comparative politics is a key area of Political Science. Comparative politics is not only about the comparison of the political structure of different countries, but it is also about the comparison of political activity, political process, and political power. The study of features and legal power also comes under the study of comparative politics.
The main motive of comparative politics is to improve the ongoing condition of any state or country. The improvement can be implemented on the present system of an ant state or country by adopting the already successful and proven system of other countries.
Although it’s not easy as when we compare one state with others in terms of politics than many more things like culture, the literacy rate of citizens plays an important role in it.
Comparative politics also use to reduce the tensions or the resolution of conflicts between the two countries. Comparative politics is not defined only by the object of its study, but by the method, it applies to study political phenomena.
History of Comparative Politics
Comparison with others has been a common habit in humans. We compare many things with others to make the right decision, and the history of this human trait is as old as the existence of human civilisation. The same applies in the case of comparative politics.
Comparative politics has an old history, and signs of comparative politics were available just before the origin of systematic political studies in ancient Greece and Rome. In the book named The Politics, written by Aristotle, has the mention of comparative politics. In this book, he compares “constitutions”, by introducing his famous typology. Aristotle made a comparison of 158 countries, and that’s how comparative politics was started.
In the Bible also some statements of comparative politics are mentioned. In ancient Greek also some systematic comparative politics were performed. Hence, we can say that comparative politics is an age-old practice.
The nature of comparative politics is comprehensible if you have understood its characteristics and significances. So let’s have a look at the characteristics and significance of Comparative Politics to know about its nature and scope.
Characteristics of Comparative Politics
Here we will discuss the top 5 characteristics of Comparative Politics.
- Essentially Descriptive Studies: To compare the politics of different countries, it’s essential to have a descriptive study of them. Until you know in-depth about the politics of different countries, you will not be able to compare them and produce a productive result.
- We can take the reference of the famous book “Governments of Continental Europe” edited by James T. Shot. Here he mentioned the similarities and differences between Switzerland, Germany, and the U.S.S.R. this comparison will not be possible without the descriptive studies of mentioned countries.
- Historical-Legalistic-Institutional Approach: For the descriptive study of political institutions, two typical approaches are available; the first is historical, and the second is legalistic. Through Historical approaches, we can compare the evolution of the French Parliament or the German Representative Assemblies. And through a legalistic approach, we can study the legal power of various branches of government and their relationships with reference to the existing constitutional and legal prescriptions.
- Essentially Parochial: Most of the studies on comparative politics have been done on Western European institutions. So it is essentially parochial.
- Essential Static: in traditionally comparative politics’ study, the dynamic factors like growth and change are ignored. That makes comparative politics more static.
- Essentially Monographic: The most important studies of foreign political systems have taken the form of monographs that have concentrated on the study of political institutions of one system or the discussion of a particular institution in different systems.
Significance of Comparative Politics
Comparative Politics is an essential part of Political Science. In Comparative Politics, we study the difference and similarity between the two countries and try to find out why they for what they are. Comparative Politics describes how other countries in the world function politically and how they are different from your countries.
Scope of Comparative Politics
Now let’s discuss the scope of Comparative politics. The scope of comparative politics includes the subject of political power. Here the term political power can be defined by a different writer and politics experts. Carl J. Friedrich describes it as, ‘certain kind of human relationship’ and, Lasswell says “The making of the decision is an interpersonal process: the policies which other persons are to pursue are what is decided upon.
Power as participation in the making of decisions is an interpersonal relation. Politics thus connotes a special case in the exercise of power an exercise of power – an exercise in the attempt to change the conduct of others in one’s own direction”.
The study of comparative Politics has the following scopes;
- All Political Structures: A complete knowledge of political structure is essential for comparative politics. This study includes the study of all the formal and informal, governmental, and extra-governmental institutions and their structure.
- Functional Studies: the knowledge of how all the formal and informal institutes work within the country includes in comparative politics.
- Study of Political Behaviour: Another important part of the scope of Comparative Politics is the study of voting behavior, political participation, leadership recruitment, elite behavior, mass politics, etc.
- Study of Similarities and Differences: How two countries are similar and how are they different from each other is the main topic of study on comparative politics.
- Study of all Political Systems: the political system of any country defines its nature and the voting culture. There is a huge difference in thinking between a democratic country’s citizens and a nondemocratic country’s citizens. The scopes mentioned above are just a few. In comparative politics, everything includes which has some relevance with the country or countries.
Comparative Politics is an old concept, and since ancient times, its scope becomes wider. To summarise the comparative politics, we can say that this study is a systematical comparison of different countries without being biased or having some philosophical axes. Having a clear thinking process is an essential factor that a comparative politics researcher must have.
Already many things have been written related to this topic, but frequent changes in a change in the political economy, culture, conflict, government, rights, and public policy create more opportunities for new researchers in the field of comparative studies.