Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics Reading List

The primary focus of the study of Comparative Politics is the political institutions and behaviors of countries other than the United States (though we do not preclude studying America in comparative perspective). The kinds of questions that comparativists seek to answer include: Why do authoritarian states democratize? Why do some countries effectively develop while other are mired in poverty traps? Why do citizens’ values and attitudes toward the state, religion, the welfare state, and to democracy differ across the world? Are political parties the only viable form of representation in contemporary democracies? Why do some parties run on policy programs and others on patronage? Can citizens use courts to hold governments accountable? Under what conditions do civil wars and revolutions erupt?

The Department of Political Science at the University of Florida offers a comprehensive and challenging program in Comparative Politics. The faculty is committed to a pluralistic view of the field and seeks to train its students in a broad range of methodologies from the experimental and statistical to the interpretive. Whatever methods our students use, we emphasize the conscious choice of appropriate methods for the questions that they seek to answer, and the most up-to-date training available. Many faculty members also share a commitment to mixed methodological perspectives in order to increase confidence in the generality of findings. The field maintains a strong commitment to understanding politics in the context of time and place. Students are encouraged to develop deep knowledge about the areas which they study, including linguistic abilities that will allow them to conduct fieldwork. At UF this is facilitated by cooperation with three nationally recognized Title VI centers in the fields of African, European, and Latin American studies.

At UF, members of the Comparative Politics field conduct research in a variety of areas: democratization and regime change, political violence, political economy, institutional design, political development, ethnicity, legal institutions, the state and bureaucracy, and mass attitudes and behavior. Our faculty investigate these questions in many regions, but with particular focus on the politics of Europe, Russia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

In their first semester, comparativists entering the program are required to take the introductory seminar (CPO 6091) as a gateway to the other seminars. Its purpose is to expose students to the major theoretical traditions that have shaped the study of comparative politics. In the course of the semester, students are introduced both to landmark works and the diversity of approaches to research in the field.

In subsequent semesters, students will choose a variety of thematic and area seminars. The thematic seminars cover a broad range of topics and focus on important research questions in the field. They will include readings drawn from the experience of many regions and broad cross-national perspectives. The area seminars serve two principal purposes. The first is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the politics of a particular region of the world. The second is to enable the student to understand how comparativists both apply and derive general theory and concepts in the context of the politics of specific countries.

First Field Requirements

Summary of First Field Requirements (5 courses for a total of 15 credits)

  • CPO 6091: Comparative Politics Seminar
  • Four additional seminars: at least two substantive seminars and at least one area seminar from the list below

Field Examination

Students will be tested on the content of their comparative politics seminars as well as the comprehensive exam reading list.

  • Written component: answer three questions in 72 hours
  • Oral defense: scheduled after written component

Committee Selection

The student’s dissertation advisor will chair the exam committee, and two other members will be assigned randomly by the field chair. All three must be full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the comparative politics faculty with graduate faculty status. In the case where the student’s dissertation advisor is not a specialist in the student’s area of regional specialization, the field chair may purposively assign a faculty member with area expertise to the committee rather than making a random appointment.

Examination Questions

  • Section I: A broad, general question on comparative politics for which you will have to draw upon the substantive and/or methodological literature of the field, broadly understood. All students answer the same question (7-10 pages).
  • Section II: A choice of several questions drawn from important substantive areas (usually theme areas from part B of the Master Syllabus). Every effort will be made to assure that you will have a choice of questions based on the thematic seminars you have taken. You will have to answer one question (5-7 pages) to demonstrate your mastery of an important area of current research and demonstrate your knowledge of how this theme has been addressed across a variety of regions.
  • Section III: (first field only) Questions that test your mastery of the literature on a specific world region as well as your ability to apply the general comparative politics literature to the problems of that region (5-7 pages).

Second Field Requirements

Summary of Second Field Requirements (3 courses for a total of 9 credits)

  • CPO 6091: Comparative Politics Seminar
  • Two thematic seminars from the list below

Students who have a compelling reason for taking an area seminar may petition the field chair to exchange one thematic seminar for an area seminar (see note under examination questions below).

Field Examination

Students will be tested on the content of their comparative politics seminars as well as the comprehensive exam reading list.

  • Written component: answer two questions in 48 hours
  • Oral defense: scheduled after written component

Committee Selection

The student chooses a chair for her/his Field Examination committee. The other two members will be assigned randomly by the field chair. All three must be full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the comparative politics faculty with graduate faculty status.

Examination Questions

  • Section I: A broad, general question on comparative politics for which you will have to draw upon the substantive and/or methodological literature of the field, broadly understood. All students answer the same question (7-10 pages).
  • Section II: A choice of several questions drawn from important substantive areas (usually theme areas from part B of the Master Syllabus). You will have to answer one question (5-7 pages) to demonstrate your mastery of an important area of current research and demonstrate your knowledge of how this theme has been addressed across a variety of regions.

NOTE: In the case where a student has successfully petitioned to take an area seminar in the place of a thematic seminar, the Field Examination will be structured to allow that student to choose between a thematic question and an area question (Section III of the major exam). When the student’s Field Examination Committee Chair does not have area expertise in the area of a selected question, the field chair may assign a member of faculty with that area expertise to the committee. Refer to the major page for an explanation of the questions.

Third Field Requirements

Summary of Third Field Requirements (2 courses for a total of 6 credits)

  • CPO 6091: Comparative Politics Seminar
  • One additional seminar from the list below

Courses within the Field that Satisfy Requirements

Thematic Seminars:

  • CPO6096: Comparative Qualitative & Mixed Methods
  • CPO 6732: Democratization and Regime Transition
  • CPO 6059: Democracy and its Competitors
  • CPO 6077: Social Movements in Historical and Comparative Perspective
  • CPO 6786: Peasant Politics and Society
  • CPO 6795: Environmental Politics
  • CPO 6796: Water Politics
  • POS 6292: Religion and Politics
  • POS 6933: Comparative Elections and Party Systems
  • POS 6933: Politics of Development
  • POS 6933: State Building
  • POS 6933: Law, State and Society
  • POS 6933: Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • POS 6933: Patrons, Clients, Corruption and Governing
  • POS 6933: Comparative Political Institutions

Area Seminars:

  • CPO 6046: Politics in Advanced Industrial Societies
  • CPO 6206: Seminar in African Politics
  • CPO 6307: Latin American Politics
  • CPO 6736: Post-Communist Politics
  • POS 6933: The European Union in Comparative Context