Saylor.org's Comparative Politics/Social Science and Comparative Politics

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Effective comparative study of political systems is rooted in the scientific method. To start off the course, Unit 1 first provides an overview and brief history of scientific inquiry and research methods. We then build on these themes as we focus on the comparative method and outline several “positivist” models of comparison employed by political scientists.

As you review the material, think about if and how the comparative scientific study of politics differs from scientific inquiry focused on natural phenomena. Can we study politics, for example, using the same research methods as a scientist studying microbes or global climate change? Why or why not? Also, should a study of comparative politics be objectively focused on understanding the world “as it is” or should it seek to derive better political models and outcomes?