Sakharova Prospekt, Moscow (Summer 2019)


Week 1


Introduction to Comparative Politics

What is the value of comparison?

What is political order?

  • David Collier. 1993. “The Comparative Method,” in Ada Winfter, ed. Political Science: The State of the Discipline II, pp. 105-119.

  • Robert Bates. 2009. “From Case Studies to Social Science: A Strategy for Political Research” in Carles Boix and Susan C. Stokes, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford University Press.

For more on the country cases (China, Hungary, India, Mexico, and Nigeria):

CIA World Factbook: Introduction, Geography, People and Society, Government, and Economy (Overview).

Freedom House: Freedom in the World: Overview and Country Reports.

The Economist Intelligence Unit: Democracy Index and Country Reports.

Video: Democracy Index 2019: A Year of Democratic Setbacks and Popular Protest

Video: 2019: A Year of Major Protests

Regime Change:

Conceptual Issues in the Comparative Study of Regime Change and Democratization by Stephanie Lawson in Comparative Politics (1993)

Review: Rethinking Regime Change by Nancy Bermeo in Comparative Politics (1990)

Week 2


State and Citizens

What is the State?

Does the State solve the problem of political order?

What is the difference between jus soli and jus sanguinis citizenship? Are these useful concepts to understand debates over citizenship in many parts of the world?

  • Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan. Of Commonwealth: Chapter XVII-XVIII (any edition)

  • Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation” – Selected Pages (“Monopoly of Violence”).

  • Maarten Vink. 2017. “Comparing Citizenship Regimes,” in Ayelet Shachar, Rainer Bauböck, Irene Bloemraad, and Maarten Vink, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship. Oxford University Press.

  • Ornit Shani. 2010. “Conceptions of Citizenship in India and the ‘Muslim Question’.” Modern South Asian Studies. Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 145-173.

India’s Government Wants to Block Some Muslims From Citizenship: Here’s What to Know About a Controversial New Bill – (read here)

John Oliver on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Week 3


Political Inequality

What is political inequality?

How is political inequality express itself in Nigeria?

What is the relationship between political inequality and political order?

  • Robert Dahl. 1996. “Equality versus Inequality.” Political Science and Politics. Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 639-48.

  • Sidney Verba. 2003. “Would the Dream of Political Equality Turn out to Be a Nightmare?.” Perspectives on Politics. Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.663-79.

  • Abdul Raufu Mustapha. 2006. “Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector in Nigeria.” United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Introduction, Part 1 and Part II, pp. 1-31.

Nigeria: A Nation Divided (BBC, 2011)

Nigeria: A Nation Divided (Economist, 2014)

Nigeria Election 2019: Mapping a Nation in Nine Charts

Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India by Raghabendra Chattopadhyay and Esther Duflo – Nobel Prize in Economics Winners (2019) – (read here)

Reserving political seats for women increases female electoral participation and responsiveness to women’s policy concerns – (read here)

Week 4


Authoritarianism and Democracy

What are the two political conflicts that characterize authoritarian regimes?

Are all authoritarian regimes the same?

How do political scientists define democracy? What are the weaknesses of this definition?

  • Milan Svolik. 2012. “Chapter 1: The Anatomy of Dictatorship”; “Chapter 2: The World of Authoritarian Politics.” The Politics of Authoritarian Rule. Cambridge University Press.

  • Andrew Nathan. 2003. “China’s Changing of the Guard: Authoritarian Resilience.” Journal of Democracy. Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 6-17.

  • Susan Shirk. 2018. “China in Xi’s ‘New Era’: The Return to Personalistic.” Journal of Democracy. Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 22-36.

  • Philippe Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl. 1991. “What Democracy Is… and Is Not.” Journal of Democracy. Vol 2, No. 3, pp. 75-88.

John Oliver on authoritarian leaders around the world


China’s Imperial President: Xi Jinping Tightens His Grip

China’s New Revolution: The Reign of Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping: The Game Changer of Chinese Elite Politics?

Authoritarian Resilience Revisited: Joseph Fewsmith with Response from Andrew J. Nathan

An Institutional Analysis of Xi Jinping’s Centralization of Power

The Powers of Xi Jinping

How Xi Jinping Made His Power Grab: With Stealth, Speed and Guile

As China’s Troubles Simmer, Xi Reinforces His Political Firewall

Week 5


Income and Economic Inequality

How does the state reinforce or broaden existing income inequality?

When does income inequality become a source of political mobilisation?

  • Joseph Stiglitz. 2012. “Chapter 1: America’s 1 Percent Problem.” The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future." W.W. Norton and Company.

  • Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage. 2017. “Wealth Inequality and Democracy.” Annual Review of Political Science. Vol. 20, pp. 451-68.

  • Claudio Holzner. 2007. “The Poverty of Democracy: Neo-liberal Reforms and Political Participation of the Poor in Mexico.” Latin American Politics and Society. Vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 87-122.

  • Rodolfo De la Torre. 2004. “Economic Polarization and Governability in Mexico.” Well-being and Social Policy. Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 1-27.

  • Additional reading: Karl Marx. Excerpts from Part I, Section B of The German Ideology: “Conclusions from the Materialist Conception of History” – (read here).

Experimental evidence from South Africa: “Local Exposure to Inequality Among the Poor Increases Support for Taxing the Rich” by Melissa Sands and Daniel de Kadt (2019) – (read here)


Notes on Gurr: Why Men Rebel (1970) on “Relative Deprivation”

Resource Mobilization Theories

Resource Mobilization as a Theoretical Framework

Resource Mobilization Theory and the Study of Social Movements

Week 6


Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict

What is ethnic identity?

What is ethnic conflict?

How are ethnic conflict and ethnic identity related?

What is the role of ethnicity in the Niger Delta rebellion?

  • Kanchan Chandra. 2006. “What is Ethnic identity and does it matter?” Annual Review of Political Science. Vol. 9: pp.397-424.

  • Daniel Posner. 2004. “The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas Are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi.” American Political Science Review. Vol. 98, No. 4. pp: 529-45.

  • Omolade Adunbi. 2018. ’The Rise and Decline (and Rise) of the Niger Delta Rebellion’ in A. Carl LeVan and Patrick Ukata, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Nigerian Politics. Oxford University Press.


Review: Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict

Politics, Ethno-Religious Conflicts and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria

“Blood Oil,” Ethnicity, and Conflict in the Niger Delta

Who Owns the Oil? The Politics of Ethnicity in the Niger Delta of Nigeria

Ethnic-Conflict and its Manifestations in the Politics of Recognition in a Multi-Ethnic Niger Delta Region

Week 7



Is religion just another ‘ethnic’ identity?

What is a secular state?

Is religious conflict inevitable?

Why is there Hindu-Muslim violence in India?

  • Anna Grzymala-Busse. 2012. “Why Comparative Politics Should Take Religion (More) Seriously?” Annual Review of Political Science. Vol. 15: pp. 421-42.

  • Jonathan Fox. 2017. “Political Secularism and Democracy in Theory and Practice.” in Phil Zuckerman and John R. Shook, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Secularism.

  • Ashutosh Varshney. 2013. “The State and Civil Society in Communal Violence” in Atul Kohli and Prerna Singh, ed. Routledge Handbook of Indian Politics.


Varshney, “Traditions of Explanatory Inquiry in Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict Research”

Varshney, “Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict” (Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics)

Varshney, “Ethnic Conflict and Civil Society: India and Beyond” (full article)

Week 8


Culture, Social Capital, and Institutions

Are certain cultures more conducive for political order?

What is the difference between institutions and organizations?

Is institutional weakness a source of political disorder?

  • Robert Putnam. 1995. “Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America.” PS: Political Science and Politics. Vol. 28, No. 4: pp. 664-83.

  • Sheri Berman. “Civil Society and the collapse of the Weimar Republic.” World Development. Vol. 49, No. 3: pp. 401-29.

  • Samuel Huntington. 1968. “Chapter 1: Political Order and the Political Decay.” Political Order in Changing Societies (pp. 1-32 only).

  • Douglas North. 1991. “Institutions.” Journal of Economic Perspectives. Vol. 5, No. 1. (pp. 1-2 only).

  • Daniel Mattingly. 2016. “Elite Capture: How Decentralization and Informal Institutions Weaken Property Rights in Rural China.” World Politics. Vol. 68, No. 3: pp. 383-412.

Making Social Capital Work: A Review of Robert Putnam’s Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy

Guiso et al. Civic Capital as the Missing Link

Week 9


Week 9.5


Pandemic Politics: Coronavirus, Policy Response, and Challenges to Post-Pandemic Political Order

Assigned readings:

Coronavirus and Autocrats: Never Let Pandemic Go to Waste

In the Coronavirus Fight in Scandinavia, Sweden Stands Apart


Ivan Krastev, “Seven early lessons from the coronavirus”

United States:

Data: COVID-19 Dashboard by County (NYT)

Saez and Zucman, “Keeping Business Alive: The Government Will Pay”

Adam Tooze, “Coronavirus has shattered the myth that the economy must come first”

Judith Butler on the COVID-19 pandemic and its escalating political and social effects in America

Partisanship, Health Behavior, and Policy Attitudes in the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pandemic Politics: Timing State-Level Social Distancing Responses to COVID-19


Pandemic and Politics in India

Containing fallout for the poor in India

Organized crime:

Drug gangs in Brazil’s favelas enforce coronavirus lockdown

Video from Chechnya

Post-Soviet Responses:

Post-Soviet State Responses to COVID-19

How Is Russia Coping With Coronavirus?

Pandemic Unsettles Ukraine’s Zelensky

Week 10


Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Federalism

Distinguish between presidential and parliamentary system and unitary and federal system?

What are the various forms of federalism?

Are certain forms of government more stable than others?

  • Juan Linz. 1990. “Perils of Presidentialism?” Journal of Democracy. Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 51-69.

  • Alfred Stepan. 1999. “Federalism and Democracy: Beyond the US Model.” Journal of Democracy. Vol. 10, No. 4.

  • Victoria E. Rodríguez. 1998. “Recasting Federalism in Mexico.” Publius. Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 235-254.