PSCI 240 Theories of Comparative Politics

Last offered Spring 2014

This course will deal with the debate between Karl Marx and Max Weber that organizes much of the contemporary study of comparative politics. The course is divided into four sections. First, it begins with a close reading of Marx and Weber and a comparison of their modes of political analysis. It will engage the debate between them about the source and nature of power. What is it, and where does it come from? Is it primarily "material" in content or largely "ideal"? What does each think about the origins of capitalism, and what is at stake theoretically in their respective interpretations? Second, the course will consider how Marx and Weber have influenced 20th century thinking about the relationship between capitalism and modernity. Is modernity intimately linked with capitalism, as Marx would argue, or is it separate from it, as Weber would have it? To get at this question, we will read Karl Polanyi and Barrington Moore in this section. Third, the course will address Marxist and Weberian treatments of states. What are they? Where do states come from? Do they originate in consent? In war? Are they autonomous from or captured by social forces? In this section, we will read Charles Tilly, Theda Skocpol, Alfred Stephan, and Karl Schmitter. Finally, the course will consider what comparative politics has to say about the nature and origins of collective political identities (national, ethnic, cultural). What are they and where do they come from? Are they artifacts of the economy, as Marxists suggest, or do they come from states and religions, as Weber has it?
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: three papers
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: PSCI Comparative Politics Courses
Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 3418
PSCI 240 LEC Theories of Comparative Poltcs Division 2: Social Studies Michael D. MacDonald
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