Conceptualising Comparative Politics: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Conceptualising Comparative Politics

1st Edition

Edited by Anthony Petros Spanakos, Francisco Panizza


256 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138782921
pub: 2015-07-10
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pub: 2015-07-23
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Comparative politics often involves testing of hypotheses using new methodological approaches without giving sufficient attention to the concepts which are fundamental to hypotheses, particularly the ability of these concepts to ‘travel’. Proper operationalising requires deep reflection on the concept, not simply establishing how it should be measured. Conceptualising Comparative Politics – the flagship book of Routledge’s series of the same name – breaks new ground by emphasising the role of thoroughly thinking through concepts and deep familiarity with the case that inform the conceptual reflection.

In this thought- provoking book, established academics as well as emerging scholars in the field collect (and invite) scholarship in the tradition of conceptual comparative politics. The book posits that concepts may be used comparatively as ‘lenses’, ‘building blocks’ and ‘scripts’, and contributors show how these conceptual tools can be employed in original comparative research. Importantly, contributors to Conceptualising Comparative Politics do not simply use concepts in one of these three ways but they apply them with careful consideration of empirical variation. The chapters included in this volume address some of the most contentious issues in comparative politics (populism, state capacity, governance, institutions, elections, secularism, among others) from various geographic regions and model how scholars doing comparative politics might approach such subjects.

Concepts make possible scholarly conversations including creative confrontations across paradigms. Conceptualising Comparative Politics will challenge you to think of how to engage in conceptual comparative inquiry and how to use various methodologically sound techniques to understand and explain comparative politics.


"Concepts and comparisons go hand-in-hand. Beginning with Weber’s ideal types, which joined the general and the particular, comparative politics has grappled with the problem of delimiting the extension and intension of its language. This volume makes a significant contribution to this important discussion."Mark Lichbach, University of Maryland

"This book breaks new ground, or re-opens old ground, in the field of description and concepts in the social science, which have been sorely neglected in the rush to measure everything. Politics is a particularly apt terrain for reviving the importance of conceptualization in research because it is the place where people are most likely to disagree about the words they use. Three cheers for taking concepts seriously again!"Bruce Gilley, Portland State University

"Most ‘how-to-do-it’ manuals in political science pay little or no attention to the concepts being used in comparative research. This collection of essays fills the gap by exploring a wide range of topics in an equally wide variety of settings. I suspect that the volume as a whole will occupy a prominent place on the shelf of such manuals and that the editors’ introductory trilogy of the utility of concepts as ‘lenses,’ ‘building blocks’ and ‘scripts’ will become a valuable component of graduate and post-graduate training. "Philippe Schmitter, European University Institute

Table of Contents

Selected Contents: 1. Conceptualising Comparative Politics: A Framework Anthony Petros Spanakos Part 1: Concepts as lenses 2. Conceptualising Europe as a ‘Region-State’ Vivien A. Schmidt 3. Bricolage as an Analytical Lens in New Institutionalist Theory Martin B. Carstensen 4. The Secular State: Proposing a New Perspective Birol Başkan 5. The Quality And Stability Of Subnational Elections In Africa: A Methodological and Conceptual Tool Ragnhild Louise Muriaas Part 2: Concepts as Building Blocks 6. Human Rights: Building Blocks for a Comparative Politics of Power Todd Landman 7. Reconsidering Electoral Contestation Through Voter Mobilization Allyson Lucinda Benton 8. Measuring or Redefining Concepts in Comparative Politics? Challenges in Comparative Public Opinion Zsolt Nyiri Part 3: Concepts as Scripts 9. Statehood and Segmentary Governance: An Essay on Political Change in a West African City Till Förster 10. Populism, Social Democracy and The Tale Of The "Two Lefts" In Latin America Francisco Panizza 11. Institutionalities and Political Change in Bolivarian Venezuela Anthony Petros Spanakos Part 4: Concluding Remarks Epilogue: Comparing Beyond Methods Francisco Panizza Index

About the Editors

Anthony Petros Spanakos is an associate professor of political science and law at Montclair State University.

Francisco Panizza is Professor of Comparative and Latin American Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

About the Series

Conceptualising Comparative Politics

Advisory Board: Colin Hay (University of Sheffield), Courtney Jung (University of Toronto), Todd Landman (University of Essex), Mark Lichbach (University of Maryland), Shinasi Rama (New York University), Vivien Schmidt (Boston University), Till Förster (University of Basel), Zheng Yongnian (East Asia Institute/National University of Singapore)

Conceptualising Comparative Politics: People, Polities, and Markets seeks to bring a distinctive approach to comparative politics by rediscovering the discipline’s rich conceptual tradition and inter-disciplinary foundations. It aims to fill out the conceptual framework on which the rest of the subfield draws but to which books only sporadically contribute, and to complement theoretical and conceptual analysis by applying it to deeply explored case studies. The series publishes books that make serious inquiry into fundamental concepts in comparative politics (crisis, legitimacy, credibility, representation, institutions, civil society, reconciliation) through theoretically engaging and empirical deep analysis.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Comparative
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General