Comparing political systems is at least as old as Aristotle, whose library contained more than 135 studies of constitutions of the ancient world. This course will compare contemporary political systems and consider some of the main challenges they face: forging a common identity and sense of community; meeting social and economic needs; and securing civil and political liberties and human rights. Recognizing that political societies of today's worlds can differ dramatically, the course will begin by introducing concepts and approaches that make it possible to compare systems as different as those of China and Great Britain. In addition to the broader paradigms of system, structure and function, we will also consider forms of political culture and socialization, interest articulation and aggregation, party systems and policymaking. Several distinct systems will be studied; these will be chosen not only for their geographical, but also for their political diversity, representing first-world nations such as the United States, Britain and France, as well as post-communist and post-colonial states such as Russia, China and Nigeria.
Course Code: SS 320