Institutionalism The Bedrock Of Comparative Politics

Comparative politics old and new:

1: Introduction:

When we speak of political “system” we mean that its components are interdependent, a change in one involving changes in others. Political systems, at a minimum, have as a primary responsibility (one might call it their original function) the maintenance of order over defined jurisdictions, for which they have a monopology of coercive force. Sovereign jurisdictions we call the state. Strong or weak, democratic or authoritarian, political systems are important to the extent that they are “configuring:’ that is, to the extent that they establish laws and orders effectively governing political conduct. Comparisons of political systems and how they work tend to be made on the basis of states which are their concrete surrogates. Most comparison of political systems is by countries, institutions within (sub-systems), and case. Among the variety of comparative approaches, three will be singled out here for discussion: institutionalism, developmentalism, and neoinstitutionalism. The first approach tends to focus on the specific workings of political systems per se: presidential and parliamentary, unitary and federal, parties and voting, committees and elections. The second approach incorporates broad theories of societal change. The third approach combines both. Institutionalism constitutes the bedrock of comparative politics.

2: Institutionalism:
Institutionalism was more or less the exclusive approach in comparative politics, up to and considerably after World War II. Its original emphasis was on law and the constitution, on how government and the state, sovereignty, jurisdictions, legal and legislative instruments evolved in their different forms. In these terms comparative politics is virtually coterminous with the origins of political science. One might say that the relation between political philosophy and comparative politics has been reciprocal. Each has contributed to the other in terms of the analysis of power as well as perfectible ideals of justice. Classical concerns were with the best state as an embodiment of reason, wisdom, and rationality, and how well it nurtured the civic
virtue of citizens. Institutionalism, then, has a history of constitutionalism marked by the transfer of general and specific powers from monarchs to assemblies, by means of rights represented in charters with democracy a function of parliamentary supremacy. In turn institutionalism included the examination of procedures and instruments by means of which freedom could be made to serve as a precondition for obligation.
1- Institutionalism was never simply about mechanisms of governing but was also about how democratic principles were “institutionalized.”
2- Institutionalisms regarded the mostly unanticipated emergence of totalitarian governments in Russia and Italy, and the failure of the Weimar constitution and the rise of Nazism as deviant forms of political behavior.

3: The new Comparative politics

The “new” comparative politics, with its emphasis on growth and development, was part of the more general optimism of the period after World War. The “new” comparative politics, with its emphasis on growth and development, was part of the more general optimism of the period after World War II. But if the premise and promise of development represented the good, the evil was communism and the Cold War. In the west, every move to the left was a gain for the Soviet Union. Every move towards democracy was a gain for the United States and its allies. The result of such Manicheanism was that, no matter how virtuous the policies undertaken to promote the first, they were to some degree morally diluted (if not contaminated) by the pervasiveness of the second. That gave develop mentalist a certain ambiguity, quickly exploited by so-called “Third World” countries. In effect, the political problem was how to combine decolonization with devolution of powers democratically, by redirecting nationalism-that is, by changing its venue away from the state towards it-within a context of “new nations. Such differences manifested themselves in two alternative approaches to developmentalism: modernization theories and dependency theories. In case If they shared an ancestral figure, it was Max Weber. Dependency theory. One of the more general criticisms of both modernization and dependency theory (that is, of developmentalism generally) was that politics seemed to be reduced to reflexes of economics or to societal processes.

3: Neo Intuitionalism
What we will call “neo-institutionalism” combines older institutionalism concerns with developmentalism. Restoring “political system” to center stage; it combines an interest in what are now called “less developed countries. Neo-institutionalism shifted away from the old institutionalist preoccupation with the Great Depression and towards the generalization of the social welfare state, of which Scandinavian and Dutch experiments with social democracy as well as Labor Party Britain represented significant examples.22 Everywhere in Europe; too, there was political movement towards greater intervention of the state on behalf of its more disadvantaged citizens. The comparative emphasis was on political parties, how they work, how coalitions form, public attitudes change, and the role of elites, bureaucracies, and politicians within different types of regimes.

1- choice theory, Another important strand in neo-institutionalism is the use of rational
2- Neo-institutionalism, then, is less constitutional than the old, and more prone to economic analysis insofar as it deals with fiscal and monetary policy, banks, markets and globalization.
3- In general one can say that neo-institutionalism is more connected to social and political theory.


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