Comparative politics is defined as the systematic study and comparison of political systems in the world. It examines and explains similarities and differences among countries, and is specifically interested in exploring processes, patterns and regularities among political systems. Therefore, comparative politics examines trends and changes in patterns and tries to develop general hypotheses or propositions that explain and describe these trends (Lijphart 683). For example, comparative politics might address a question such as “why are some countries poor while others are wealthier?” however, is comparative politics a science?
Comparative Politics is a Science
Comparative politics is indeed a science. This is because it describes a method of scientific inquiry in the field of political science. It compares certain aspects that include employment levels, education levels, poverty levels and economic prosperity. Therefore, it is a comparative method that can be likened to the scientific method used in physical sciences since it establishes empirical relationships between variables (Zuckerman and Lichbach 23). This field of political science employs the technique of testing hypotheses by way of setting independent and dependent variables. Through the observation of correlations, scientists can then make attempts at confirming or ruling out a cause-effect relationship depending on the available data. The study results often raise new hypotheses for study. All these characteristics are also evident in physical sciences and therefore, comparative politics is a science.
Comparative politics is a science. However, it is often difficult to create science of comparative politics. This is because it covers a wide range of topics. It means that the field does not have one single focus, and thus various scholars have differing preferences. According to Przeworski (24), since researchers cannot be able to control the assignment of potential causes, then comparative politics becomes difficult when creating science out of it. Studying the causal impact of events, policies or institutions on some performance, result or outcome might be subject to biases especially if data is derived from history. Therefore, this makes it difficult to develop science out of comparative politics.
Lijphart, Arend. Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 682-693.
Przeworski, Adam. Is the Science of Comparative Politics Possible? Department of Politics, New York University, September 2006, pp. 1-35.
Zuckerman, Alan S and Lichbach, Mark Irving. Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.