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Study Guide for the comprehensive exam in Comparative Politics Fall 2004 Morning questions The exam for majors and minors in Comparative Politics will include a morning session requiring students to answer one out of two general questions. Majors will also have to answer two more specific (subfield) questions during an afternoon session of the exam. The morning session will include two questions chosen from the five below. All five questions can be covered during the oral examination. 1) One of the hottest fields in political science, but particularly in comparative politics is “social capital”. Why do you think it has appeared now on the horizons of political scientists? Who are the main protagonists and what do they argue? Why should “social capital” matter? How is the concept of “social capital” different from the older concept of “civil society”? 2) Compared to all other subfields of political science, comparative politics is the only one that carries a methodological connotation. What is the method used in comparative politics? How much value does it add compared to non-comparative approaches? What can be found by employing this method that could not be found otherwise? What are the limitations and drawbacks of this method? Who were the main founders of this method? Lay out in detail one example that used this method to highlight both the merits and demerits of this methodological approach. 3) What is the “paradigmatic core” of comparative politics? Who would you name as the central “founding fathers” of comparative politics and why? What are their legacies for today’s comparative politics? Be specific in terms of listing the authors, their contributions, and their legacies for today’s issues in comparative politics. 4) Comparative politics as an “approach” has been increasingly criticized by the rational choice approach and by “globalization”. Why? What is their (rational choice and globalization) claim and why do their claims pierce the heart of comparative politics, or do they? Lay out in detail the critique that emanates from these two corners, the logic on which it is built, and provide a detailed assessment as to how “realistic” these critiques are. 5) The field of comparative politics consists of many approaches but few arrivals. What are the main approaches. Define each of them and explain their significance for the study of comparative politics. Lay out the central claims made by these approaches and who made them by revisiting the relevant literature.
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