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Tuesday, April 17, 2012



The study of relations among nations has fascinated scholars for several centuries. However, the term international was first used by Jeremy Bantham in the latter part of the eighteenth century, although its Latin equivalent intergentes was used a century earlier by Rijchare Zouche. Both of them had used this term in respect of that branch of law which was called law of nations, which later became 'International Law'. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, international relations have grown rapidly. Today nation-states have become far too interdependent; and relations among them whether political or those related to trade and commerce, have developed into an essential area of knowledge. In this unit, we are mainly concerned with the political relations among sovereign societies called nations, or nation-states.

No nation is an island. Because domestic policies are constantly affected by developments outside, nations are compelled to (rather than sit on the fence or out-rightly isolate themselves) enter into dialogue with target or initiating entities or form alliance(s) for the purpose of enhancing theirstatus quo, or increasing their power or prestige and survival in' the international system. Because international relations is in transition following emerging realities in the international system, it has become complex and even more difficult arriving at a more universally acceptable definition of the subject. But this is not peculiar to international relations as there are more intense disagreements over the definition of political sciences itself. Nevertheless scholars have persisted in their attempt to defineinternational relations.

International Relations and International politics

In most cases international relations and international relations are interchangeably found to have been used. The first Chair in International Relations was established at the university of Wales. (U.K) in 1919. The first two occupants of the chair were eminent historians, Professors Alfred Zin~merna nd C.K. Webster. At that time, International Relations as a subject was little more than diplomatic history. During the next seven decades thissubject has changed in nature and content. Today the analytical study of politics has replaced descriptive diplomatic history. The term International politics is now used for the new discipline that has been emerging since the second world war. It is more scientific, yet narrow, as compared toInternational RelationsThe two terms are even now sometimes used as synonyms. But, they have two distinct areas, or content, of study. Hans Morgenthau believes that "the core of international relations is international politics", but a clear distinction between the two is to be made. International Relations, according to him, is much wider in scope than International Politics. Whereas politics among nations is, as Morgenthau says, struggle for power, international relations includes political, economic and cultural relations. Harold and Margaret Sprout opine that international relations include all human behaviour on one s~d eof a national boundary affecting the human behavior on the other side of the boundary. on the other hand, deals with conflicts and cooperation among nations essentially at political level. As Padelford and Lincoln define it, international politics is the interaction of state policies within the changing pattern of power relationship. Palmer and Perkins express similar views when they say that international politics is essentially concerned with the state system. Since international relations includes all types of relationships between sovereignstates, it is wider, and international politics is narrower in scope. As students of IR, we shall indeed examine political conflicts and cooperation among states. But, we stiall also study other aspect of relations among nations as well including pconomic inter-action and role of the non-state actor.


Trevor Taylor (1979) defines International Relations as "a discipline, which tries to explain political activities across state boundaries".

According to Ola, Joseph (1999), "International relations are the study of all forms of interactions that exist between members of separate entities or nations within the international system".

Seymon Brown (1988) thus defines international relations as "the investigating and study of patterns of action and “reactions amongsovereign states as represented by their governing elites.”Some scholars see power as the key to International politics. Thus, they define International relations as the subject that deals with those relations among nations, which involve power status.

Stanley Hoffman writes “the discipline of international relations is concerned with the factors and the activities which affect the external policies andpower of the basic units into which the world is divided.” Thus, international relations is concerned with all the exchange transactions,contacts, flow of information and the resulting behavioral responses between and among separate organized societies. International relations could encompass many different activities social, economic, religious and so forth in so far as they have implications for international political relations.

In the words of Karl Wolfgang Deutsch (1968), “An introduction to the study of international relations in our time is an introduction to the art and science of the survival of mankind. If civilization is killed in the nearest future, it will not be killed by famine or plague, but by foreign policy and international relations.”The point expressed here is that we can cope with hunger and pestilence, but we cannot deal with the power of our own weapons and our own behavior as nation states. It is important to note that since the end of World War 1, nation states have possessed unprecedented instruments for national action in the form of ideologies and weapons, and they have become even more dangerous vehicles of international conflict, carrying the potential for its escalation to mutual destruction and ultimate annihilation. The nation state holds the power to control most events within its borders, but few events beyond them. It is thus decisively important for the student of international relations to understand that the world of today is marked by two factors. One fact has to do with the nature of power in the age of the atom; the other concerns the interdependence of mankind in an age of the individual.

Nature of International Politics

International Relations, like the world community itself are in transition. In a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, it encompasses much more than relations among nation states and international organization and groups. It includes a variety of transitionalrelationships at various levels, above and below the level of the nation states. International relations are a multidisciplinary field gathering together the international aspects of politics, economics, geography, history, law, sociology, psychology , philosophy and cultural studies. It is a meta-discipline. The context and nature of IP have undergone major changes after the Second World War. Traditionally, world politics was centered around Europe and relations among nations were largely conducted by officials of foreign offices in secrecy. The common man was hardly ever involved, and treaties were often kept secret. Today public opinion has begun to play an important role in the decision-making process in foreign offices, thus, changing completely the nature of international relations. Ambassadors, once briefed by their governments, were largely free to conduct relations according to the ground realities of the countries of their posting. Today, not only have nuclear weapons changed the nature of war and replaced erstwhile the balance of power by the balance of terror, but also the nature of diplomacy chanqed as well. We live in the jet age where the heads of state and government and their foieign ministers travel across the globe and personally establish contacts and conduct international relations. Before the First World War a traveller from India to Britain spent about 20 days In the sea voyage. Today, it takes less than 9 hours for a jet aircraft to fly from Delhi to London, telephones, fax macknes, teleprinters and other electronic devices have brought all government leaders direct contact. Hotlinecommunicat~onbs etween Washington and Moscow, for example, keeps the top world leaders in constant touch. This has reduced the freedom of ambassadors who receive daily instructions from their governments.

Decolonisation has resulted in the emergence of a large number of sovereign states. The former colonies of the European Powers, including India, have become important actors on the stage of international relatioh. They were once silent spectators. Today, they participate in the conduct of world politics. The disintegration of the Soviet Union has created 15 members of the United Nations, instead of the previous three. Some of the very small countries like Nauru may have no power but they also have, an equal voice in the General Assembly. Four very small countries viz. Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco and Andorra were admitted to the U.N. during 1990-93. The total number of U.N. members has gone up from 51 in 1945 to 185 in 1997. Thus, international relations are now conducted by such a large number of new nationstates. Besides, many non-state actors such as multinational corporations and transnational bodies like terrorist groups have been influencing international relations in a big way. With the collapse of the Soviet Union as a Super Power, the United States has emerged as the supreme monolithic power and can now dominate the international scene almost without any challenge. The Non-Alignment Movement ((NAM) still exists but with the dismemberment of one of its founders (i.e. : Yugoslavia) and the disappearance of rival power blocs, the role of the 'Third World' has changed along with that of NAM.

Scope of International Relations

Beginning with the study of law and diplomatic history, the scope of international relations has steadily expanded. With growing complexity of contacts between nations, the study of international organizations and institutions attracted the attention of scholars. The outbreak of the Second World War gave a strong stimulus to area studies and strategic aspect of foreign policy. This led to efforts to understand better the dynamics of national liberation struggles and anti-colonial movements. The foundation of the United Nations during the war encouraged thinking about post-war restructuring of the relations among nations. The study of cooperation became important even as the study of conflict remained central. The immediate aftermath was marked by a constructive outlook. This is reflected in titles of books like Swords and Plughshares written by Inis Claude. New topics like ideology and disarmament assumed unprecedented importance in the era of cold war. So did the system of alliances and regionalism. Contemporary international relations embrace the whole gamut of diplomatic history, international politics, international organisation, international law and area studies. Writing about the contents of international relations, a few decades back, Palmer Perkins had said that the then international relations was a study of "the world community in transition."

This conclusion is largely true even today. The transition has not reached a terminal point. While the underlying factors of international relations have not changed, the international environment has changed and is still changing. The state system is undergoing modifications; a technological revolution h s taken place in a very big way; new states of Asia and Africa are playing increasigly importaqt roles. India, in particular, is in a position to assert and take a rigid stand, as in 1696 on the question of signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). There is also a "revolution of rising expectations." Thus, as Palmer and Perkins wrote, "old and new elementsmust be interwoven" in the contemporary international relations. "The focus is still the nation state system and inter-state relations; but the actions and interactions of many organisations and groups have also to be considered." The scope of international relations at the end of the twentieth century has become very vast indeed. The world has virtually become a "global village", as interdependence of states has increased manifold. Economic relations between states, the role of international institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund ahd the World Trade Organisation today influences econonlic activity all over the worlld. The United Nations and its various agencies are engaged in numerous socio-economic and political activities. International terrorism is a cause of serious concern for the human existence. Multinational Corporations (MNCs), wlzo are giant companies operating the world over, are important non-state actors of international relations.

Thus, the scope of international relations has become vast, and, besides international politics, it embraces various other inter - State activities as well.It is known by now that international relations encompass a myriad of discipline. Attempts to structure and intellectualize it have often beenthematically and analytically confined to boundaries determined by data.The core concepts of international relations are International Organization,International Law, Foreign Policy, International Conflict, InternationalEconomic Relations and Military Thought and Strategy.International/Regional Security, Strategic Studies, International PoliticalEconomy, Conflict/War and Peace Studies, Globalization, InternationalRegimes. Moreover it covers , state sovereignty, ecological sustainability,nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, terrorism,organized crime, human security, foreign interventionism and human rights. These have been grounded in various schools of thought (or traditions)notably Realism and Idealism.


There are many approaches to the study of international relations. The traditional or classical approach treated History as the laboratory from which meaningful conclusions could be drawn. Two of the main schools of the traditional approach are Realism and Idealism. Whereas the Realism School considers the struggle for power as the central point of all international relations, the Idealism School believes in the inherent goodness of man. Realists like Morgenthau do not attach much importance to means, or morality. For them national interest is the aim that must be served with the help of power. The idealists, on the other hand, feel that the ideal of world peace is attainable with the help of reason, education and science. In recent years, Neo- Realism has appeared as another approach to the study of international relations.

Traditional Approaches : Realism, Idealism and Neo-Realism

The two most important variants of the traditional approach of international relations are Realism and Idealism. Taking inspiration from Kautilya and Machiavelli, the leading twentieth century realists George Kennan and Hans Morgenthau argued that the struggle for power is the central point of all international relations. Individuals believe that others are always trying to attack and destroy them, and therefore, they must be continuously ready to kill others in order to protect themselves. This basic; human instinct guides the States as well. Thus, the realists argue that rivalry and strife among the nations in some form or the other are always present. Just as self:- interest guides the individual's behaviour, similarly national interest also guides tbe foreign policy of nation-states. Continued conflict is the reality of international relations and realists attribute this to the struggle for power. Thus, national interea, as defined in terms of power, is the only reality of international relations. The realists do not attach much significance to means, for them national interest is the end, and it must be promoted at all costs. Hans . Morgenthu's influential book "Politics among Nations" (1972) carried the torch of realism far and wide. For the realists, distribution of powers among states is all thatis there to explain in IR. Given a particular distribution of power, the realists claim that, it is possible to explain both the characteristics of the system and the - behaviour of the individual states.

The idealists firmly believe that the essential goodness of human nature will eventually pre vail and that a new world order would emerge which would be marked by the absence of war, inequality and tyranny. This new world order would be brought about by the use of reason, education and science. Idealism presents a picture of future international relations free from power politics, violence and immorality. Idealism argues that an international organization commanding respect of nation-states would pave the way for a world free of conflicts and war. Thus, the crucial point on which the realists and idealists sharply differ is the problem of power. St. Simon, Aldous Huxley, Mahatma Gandhi and Woodrow Wilson a;e among the prominent idealists. Morality is vital for them as they aim at international peace and cooperation.

An analysis of Realism and Idealism will show that both have their validity provided they give up their extremism. The approach that takes a middle position between "idealistic utopianism" and "cynical realism" is called Eclecticism. It has been described as a sort of synthesis of the 'pessimism of realism' and 'optimism of idealism'. Eclecticism tries to use the best in both realism and idealism. The former has been described by Quincy Wright as a representative of short-run national policies whereas idealism represents long-term policies of intearnationalism. Realists have been called 'Children of darkness' and idealists the 'children of light'. Neibuhr regards the children of darkness as evil and wicked and the children of light as virtuous. But, on the basis of another cirterion, he says, the realists are wise as they understand the power of self-will, and the idealists are foolish because they underestimate the risk ~f anarchy in the international community. Both have something to learn from this.

Neo-Realism, also known as 'Structural Realism' is one of the current approaches to the study of international relations. Waltz, Grieco, Keohane and Joseph Nye are among the prominent neo-realists. Neo-Realists believe that might is right in a system which is essentially Hobbesian (full of strife) in nature. The great powers are engaged in permanent rivalry. The structure has, more or less, remained one of anarchy though the prominent actors have been changing. The term 'structure' has been referred to "how the actors in a system stand in relation to each other." The present structure being anarchical (challenges to state domination are rampant), one finds powerful states are most interested in trying to prevent others froin improving relative capabilities. Keohane and Nye add that with the increasing rolwf non-state actors, the structure has become even more complex and unpredictable. In short, neorealism belleves that the nation-states still remain the most important actors in world politics: behaviour of the states can be explained rationally; states seek power and calculate their interests in terms of power. (All these they share with the scholars of realism). Hdwever, the neorealists add, the international system is characterized by anarchy and emerging 'multi-centric' activities emanating from sources other than state. This complexity is further compounded by international terrorism, religious war-fares, increasing incidence of civil wars and emerging competitive multinational corporations.

In the post-cold war years, international arena has assumed a new form. Nation-states are being threatened by divisive and secessionist movements. Many of the conflicts have assumed deadly proportions. According to John Stremlau "prevention has become a buzz word among diplomats seeking to stem anarchy in Africa. the Balkans, the new states of the former Soviet Union, and elsewhere." In 1992, for example, out of 30 conflicts across the world as many as 29 were military actions taking place inside states. One can refer to such examples to show that more military actions are being taken recourse to inside states rather than outside and among them. The ethnic conflict in erstwhile Yugoslavia (conflict between Serbs and Croats, and between Serbs and Bosnians), insurgency within Afghanistan, the conflict in Iraq regardiag Kurds, chaotic conditions inside Somalia, the conflict in Sri Lanka, Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM) related conflict in Palustan and terrorist activities in northern Indian States of Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab, are some of the ongoing military or paramilitary actions within nation-states. In the post-cold war conflicts, 90 per cent of casualties have been of civilians, not of the soldiers. Thus, neo-realism stresses the struggle for power not only between states but also intra-state struggles in an 'anarchic' world.

It will not be out of place here to mention that at a socio-political level, domestic determination of foreign policy options was not an important consideration with the realists who preferred states to remain confined to diplomatic, military and strategic sources of power. (See the box below). The post-cold war realists believe that peace was made possible in the world during the cold war period (1945-89) owing to stable bipolarity, balance of terror and a belief that nuclear war could be suicidal. With the end of the cold war, the realists hope for lasting peace to result out of the rules of conduct (for international relations) to be enforced by the United States which has virtual mondpoly of powers. Realism today recognises the role of the United Nations, Internatiphal Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation yet they are still considered to be subordinate to the wishes of the powerful states. The realists do net want proliferation of nuclear weapons so that monopoly of the American power is maintained in that sector. Thus, realists (and neo-realists) still believe in promotion of national interest as expressed through State power. Despite international organisations, reg'rqes and non-state actors, power continues to dominate international relations, the realists still maintain. It may be of interest to students to note that Realism and Neorealistic approaches are mostly confined to,$ studies in USA and Europe. Bbth stress on state power systems and inter-state relations. An important difference between the two is, however, one of degree and focus.

Neorealism (which appeals more widely in USA and Europe) in IR differs from Realism by virtue of its lesser concern with the diplomatic, military and strategic sources which maintain or disturb the balance of power and more pre-occupation with the political and economic concerns which need to be addressed for a sustainable international system. Most of the neo-realists therefore have been students of international political economy. IR studies began focussing on the developing countries after neo-realistic approach came to vogue. They are moreconcerned with issues of dependence and development as against the state-centered approaches espousing the cause of "hegemonic stability" (that is to say, uneven distribution of power with one or a few states holding superior power to ensure stability in the world). As behaviouralists like Prof. James Rosenau often complained, concerned Third World students of IR often tend to be attracted to "dependency theory" (see below). This perspective posits that the Third World has been historically exploited by rich nations of the developed West.

Modern/Behavioural/Scientific Approaches of International Politics

Behavioural approaches to study of IR are often claimed by their western adherents to be scientific because they are based on quantitative calculations. They made us nlore aware of the complex nature of conflicts and provided many valuable insights into decision r making. The ultimate objective of the behaviouralist scholars is to develop a general theory of international relations. The traditional approach was rooted largely in Political Science and drew heavily from Law, History and Philosophy. With the help of the behavioural approach, a discipline of international relations is at last beginning to emerge which is devoted to behavioural studies in IR. There are several theories which may be lumped together under scientific/behavioural approach. Some like Systems Theory are more comprehensive than others like Bargaining and Game Theories. We will in this section briefly deal with only two of these behavioural scientific theories viz., the System Theory and the Game Theory.

System Theory

A system is defined as a set of elements interacting with each other. Another important feature of the system is that it has a boundary which separates it from the environment, the latter however, influences the system in its operations. Generally speaking, a system may be either natural (e.g. solar system), or mechanical (a car, a clock or a computer), or social (e.g. family). The social system itself may be related either to "society, or economy, or politics, or international systems." The general concept of an internationat system, and of international systems, formed the basis of work for many 'major scholars, Karl W. Deutsch and Raymond Aron being among the most prominent. As Aron observed, there has never been an international system including the whole of the planet. But in the post-war period, "for the first time, humanitfr is living.(in) one and the same history, and there has emerged some kind of global system". It is greatly heterogeneous but not to an extent that scholars may fail to hold them together in a discipline. As a matter of fact, Stanley Hoffman's working definition of the discipline was sufficient. "An international system", according to Hoffman "is a pattern of relations between the basic units of world politics which is characterized by the scope of the objectives pursued by these units and of the tasks performed among them, as well as by thg

means used in order to achieve those goals and perform those tasks". (System and Process in International Politics, 1957).

Among others, Prof. Morton Kaplan is considered the most influential in the systems theorizing of IR. He presented a number of real and hypothetical models of global political organisation. His six well known models were (i) balance of power system, (ii) loose bipolar system, (iii) tight bipolar system, (iv) universal actor system, (v) hierarchical system, and (vi) Unit Veto system. The first two are historical realities; the rqmaining four are hypothetical models. Although Kaplan did not say that his six systems were likely to emerge in that order, yet it was expected that the Super Power being very powerful, non-aligned countries were Likely to lose their status and become partsxf one or the other power blocs, leading to a tight bipolar world. With the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, the erstwhile bipolarity phenomenon ended. Wh~lcth e Uniled States emerged Inore powerful than other countries, many countries like Germany and Japan a l m e r g e d as major economic powers. Thus, depending upon how one analyses the emerging global order, it may be characterized as a unipolar or a multipolar world. The present situation does not however fall strictly within any one of the six-models of Morton Kaplan which are described briefly below :

1. The Balance of Power System : This system prevailed in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this system some powerful states seek to maintain equilibrium of power individually or in alliance. Usually there is a 'balancer' - a state which assists anyone who is likely to become weaker than others so that balance is not disturbed.

2. The Loose Bipolar System : This was the situation during the days of cold war politics. Despite bipolar division of the global power scene, some countries refused to align with either block. They hang loose in an otherwisc stratified global order. Examples : Non-aligned countries (NAM).

3. The Tight Bipolar System : Think of a situation where the international actors like NAM countries are forced to align with either block, the result is -one of the tight bipolar system.

4. Thk Universal Actor System : In this system, an international organisation or actor commanding universal allegiance becomes the centre of power. Whether big or small, all states will accept the superiority of a universal actor like the United Nations. Thus, without giving up their sovereignty, nation-states will strengthen the United Nations and generally abide by its decisions. This may eventually pave the way for a world government.

5. The Hierarchical International System : In this system one country will become so powerful that all other states will be virtually dictated to by that one Supreme Power. This situation may be described as a 'Unipolar World Model'. The U.N. may still exist, but there will be no true non-aligned country and even the U.N. will not have enough power.

6. The Unit Veto System : Morton Kaplan's Unit Veto System in international context resembles the 'state of nature' as defined by Thomas Hobbes. Each state will be the enemy of every other state, because almost all the countries will possess nuclear weapons. Thus, all the international actors will be capable of using nuclear weapons against their enemies.

These six models were later supplemented by Kaplan himself by some other models. Meanwhile, other scholars have also suggested some other models. Thus, Couloumbis and Wolfe endorse Kaplan's six models, but add three more. These three are

a) multibloc (or interregional) model, b)hhe national-fragmentation (or multipolar) model, and c) the post-nuclear war mddel.

The multi-bloc model portrays a world divided into five to seven mutually exclusive spheresof influence. Each of these spheres would be controlled by one major power, thus giving rise to a multipolar world.

The National Fragmentation Model will be the outcome of political and territorial disintegration. Ethnic, tribal or racial separatist movements may cause many of the large states to disinteg;ate into small fragmented units. Examples : the former Soviet Union, former Yugoslavia and former Czechoslovakia which have split into several : sovereign states.

The Post-Nuclear War Model : is the world after a catastrophic nuclear war. If such a war takes place, its aftermath would be ghastly. In such a situation, only the most tyrannical regimes would be able to maintain orderly distribution of food, shelter and medicink. A new order will have to be found out to overcome such chaotic conditions.

Game Theory

Game theory attempts to provide models for studying world politics, especially in highly competitive situations when outcomes of the actions are difficult to anticipate. This has led scholars to create the game theory for a more scientific study of the calculation of probabilities in an uncertain situation. Game theory was created almost in one shot with the publication of Theory of Gamcs and Economic Behaviour (Princeton, 1994) by the mathematician John von Neumann and the economist Oskar Morgenstern. Karl Deutsch and Martin Shubik are among influential theorists who followed them. Though the economists were the first to adapt it to their purpose in recent years it has been applied to many other fields with suitable


In its slmplest version, the game theory is the model of a zero sum game which describes the situation of conflict/competition in which one party's total loss is exactly equal to the other adversary's total gain. This explains the name - the sum total of gain and loss is zero. For the study of IR, game theory model however is a multiparty non-zero-sum game. This is because as J.K. Zawodny reminds us, "we must recognize that some types of international conflicts today can be resolved only by s~tuatloilsin which neither side loses and in which sometimes both sides may win."

As you must have already understood, isolated, coinpletely independent states, are not affected by what other states do. They however are affected and interact through mutual dependence for some benefits. States play games to have maximum gains out of such a situation of inter-dependence. The two most important kinds of game that have been suggested are the "Chicken Game" and the game of "Prisoner's Dilemma". In the chicken game situation two car drivers are going in the middle of the road towards each other from the opposite sides. Unless one of them stops on the side and gives way to the other, there is a possibility of serious accident which may even result in the death of one or both the drivers. Any one who gives, way to the other will suffer a loss of reputation but accident will be avoided. Nations often face such a situation. Generally, none wants to suffer loss of reputation. The underlying idea of chicken game is that inspite of not being able to know the intention of its opponent, a country's foreign policy –makers can adopt such a course as would ensure its own interest only if it does not mind the other country also benefiting from that course of action. A country standing on its prestige may suffer heavy losses.

The situation in prisoners dilemma is different. A nation, like a prisoner, often faces dilemma without having the slightest idea of its opponent's intentions. In this model two persons, charged with murder, are kept in two cells and they can neither see nor talk to each other. The prison-in-charge tells both of them separately that if one of them confesses to murder, and the other does not, the one who confesses will not only be set free but rewarded, and the other prisoner will be hanged. If none of them confesses, both will be freed but without reward. But if both of them confess, they both would be given serious punishment. The game suggests that everyone wants reward or advantage, but may land in serious situation as it does not know the mind of the other.

Comparative Politics

Comparative politics is a subfield of political science, characterized by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. When applied to specific fields of study, comparative politics may be referred to by other names, such as for example comparative government (the comparative study of forms of government) or comparative foreign policy (comparing the foreign policies of different States in order to establish general empirical connections between the characteristics of the State and the characteristics of its foreign policy). Sometimes, especially in the United States, the term "comparative politics" is used to refer to "the politics of foreign countries." This usage of the term, however, is often considered incorrect while sometimes political research must be conducted by analysing the behaviour of qualitative variables in a small number of cases. The case study approach cannot be considered a scientific method according to the above definition, however it can be useful to gain knowledge about single cases, which can then be put to comparison according to the comparative method
Comparative politics is not defined by the object of its study, but rather by the method it applies to study political phenomena. Peter Mair and Richard Rose advance a slightly different definition, arguing that comparative politics is defined by a combination of a substantive focus on the study of countries' political systems and a method of identifying and explaining similarities and differences between these countries using common concepts . Rose states that, on his definition: "The focus is explicitly or implicitly upon more than one country, thus following familiar political science usage in excluding within-nation comparison. Methodologically, comparison is distinguished by its use of concepts that are applicable in more than one country.
The comparative method
The comparative method is - together with the experimental method, the statistical method and the case study approach - one of the four fundamental scientific methods which can be used to test the validity of general empirical propositions,[ i.e. to establish empirical relationships among two or more variables while all other variables are held constant.In particular, the comparative method is generally used when neither the experimental nor the statistical method can be employed: on the one hand, experiments can only rarely be conducted in political science; on the other hand the statistical method implies the mathematical manipulation of quantitative data about a large number of cases, Some major works in comparative politics.
Aristotle: In his work The Politics, Aristotle compares different "constitutions", by introducing a famous typology based on two criteria: the number of rulers (one, few, many) and the nature of the political regime (good or corrupt). Thus he distinguishes six different kinds of "constitutions": monarchy, aristocracy, and polity (good types), versus tyranny, oligarchy and democracy (corrupt types).
Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America
Barrington Moore: In Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (1966) Moore compares revolutions in countries like England, Russia and Japan (among others). His thesis is that mass-led revolutions dispossess the landed elite and result in Communism, and that revolutions by the elite result in Fascism. It is thus only revolutions by the bourgeoisie that result in democratic governance. For the outlier case of India, practices of the Mogul Empire, British Imperial rule and the Caste System are cited.
Arend Lijphart: Patterns of Democracy (1999), an unrivaled, comprehensive study of democracies around the world.
Giovanni Sartori: Comparative Constitutional Engineering: An Inquiry into Structure, Incentives and Outcomes
Theda Skocpol: In States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China Theda Skocpol compares the major revolutions of France, Russia and China: three basically similar events which took place in three very different contexts. Skopcol's purpose is to find possible similarities which might help explain the phenomenon of political revolution. From this point of view, this work represents a good example of a research conducted according to the Most Different Systems Design.

Why are some countries poor and others wealthier?
What enables some countries to "make it" in the modern world while others remain locked in poverty?

Why are the poorer countries more inclined to be governed autocratically while the richer countries are democratic?

What accounts for the regional, cultural, and geographic differences that exist?

What are the politics of the transition from underdevelopment to development and what helps stimulate and sustain that process?

What are the internal social and political conditions as well as the international situations of these various countries that explain the similarities as well as the differences?

What are the patterns that help account for the emergence of democratic as distinct from Marxist-Leninist political systems?

These are the kinds of questions that lie at the heart of the field of Comparative Politics.

COMPARATIVEPOLITICS DEFINED AND its SCOPE Comparative Politics involves the systematic study and comparison of the world's political systems. It seeks to explain differences between as well as similarities among countries. It is particularly interested in exploring patterns, processes, and regularities among political systems. It looks for trends, for changes in patterns; and it tries to develop general propositions or hypotheses that describe and explain these trends. Comparative Politics covers a broad range of topics. The field has no one single focus. Different scholars have different preferences. There are several different kinds of studies. Among the types of studies that students of Comparative Politics actually do are the following:

1. Studies of one country -- or a particular institution (political parties, militaries, parliaments, interest groups), political process (decision making), or public policy (e.g., labor or welfare policy) in that country. When we focus on a single country or institution it is necessary to put the study into a larger comparative framework. That means we should tell why the subject is important and where it fits in a larger context.
2. Studies of two or more countries -- Provides for genuine comparative studies. (usually harder and more expensive in terms of research and travel costs).
3. Regional or area studies -- This may include studies of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Europe, or other subregions. Such studies are useful because they involve groups of countries that may have several things in common -- e.g., similar history, cultures, language, religion, colonial backgrounds, an so on.
Regional or area studies allow you to hold common features constant, while examining or testing for certain other features.
4. Studies across regions -- Often expensive and difficult to carry out.
Such studies might involve comparisons of the role of the military in Africa and the Middle East, or the quite different paths of development of the East Asian countries and Latin America.
5. Global comparisons -- With the improved statistical data collected by the world bank, the UN, and other agencies, it is now possible to docomparisons on a global basis.
6. Thematic studies -- Comparative politics focuses on themes as well as countries and regions. E.g., themes such as dependency theory, corporatism, role of the state, process of military professionalization. Thematic studies are often complex and usually carried out by more senior scholars.
WHY STUDY COMPARATIVE POLITICS? NATURE There are a number of reasons for studying Comparative Politics.

1. First, it's fun and interesting, and one learns a lot about other countries, regions, and the world.
2. Second, studying Comparative Politics will help a person overcome ethnocentrism.

All peoples and countries are ethnocentric, but Americans seem to be particularly afflicted.

3. Third, we study Comparative Politics because that enables us to understand how nations change and the patterns that exist.

4. A fourth reason for studying Comparative Politics is that it is intellectually stimulating.

Consider these questions: Why do some countries modernize and others not? Why are some countries democratic and others not?

5. Fifth, Comparative Politics has a rigorous and effective methodology. The comparative method is sophisticated tool of analysis and one that is always open to new approaches.

6. Finally, Comparative politics is necessary for a proper understanding of both international relations and foreign policy.

Without an intimate knowledge of the other countries with which we conduct foreign relations, we cannot have an informed, successful foreign policy.
HISTORY OF COMPARATIVE POLITICS Comparative politics has a long and very distinguished history dating back to the very origins of systematic political studies in ancient Greece and Rome. Comparative Politics is about 2,500 years old -- and maybe older. One could argue that the study of Comparative Politics goes all the way back to humankind's first recorded history. Even the most ancient of peoples, organized as clans, tribes, or extended families, compared their situations with those of other peoples with whom they came in contact. The Bible is perhaps one of the first written statements of Comparative Politics. Particularly in the Old Testament the prophets are constantly comparing the people of Israel with other peoples: Egyptians, Persians, etc. The earliest systematic comparisons of a more modern, secular sort -- with almost all the ingredients of today's Comparative Politics -- were carried out by the ancient Greeks. The two foremost political scientists in ancient Greece were Plato and Aristotle. Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics, are really the beginning of political science as we know it today -- and among the great books of all time. In these two books the authors cover almost all the key issues of politics: the nature of power and leadership, the different forms of government, public policy, and so on. For our purposes, what is important about Aristotle and Plato is their analysis of Comparative Politics.
Aristotle -- more a "scientist" -- collected approximately 150 constitutions of his time, mainly from the Greek city-states but from other areas as well. He studied these constitutions extensively. He wanted to know which form of government was most stable, so he began looking at the causes of instability. Both he and Plato arrived at a system or scheme for classifying the then known world's political systems. A modified form of this classification of systems is still used today. Montesquieu, the 18th century French philosopher, is the next great comparativist. Unlike Hobbes and Locke who focused on one country, but assumed it had universal validity, Montesquieu was a true comparativist. In his book The Spirit of the Laws Montesquieu attempted to move beyond the constitutional procedures of a country to examine its true culture and "spirit." His greatest contribution to the field was his model for the separation of powers that influenced the U.S. system.
-- Comparative politics in the early days concentrated on only a handful of countries in Western Europe (Britain, France, and Germany; the Soviet Union was included later.
-- The approach was INSTITUTIONAL.
-- WW II and the Nazi genocidal policies brought about a wave of European emigration to the U.S. --- included among the immigrants were thousands of intellectuals.
-- Many of these intellectuals achieved top positions in U.S. universities. They included some top comparativists -- Friedrich, Loewenstein, Franz Neumann, and Hannah Arendt.
-- WWII had a profound ethical and moral effect on their writings and teaching, particularly in their efforts to dissect the Nazi system, to analyze the root causes of fascism, to study totalitarianism comparatively.
-In the 1960s a combination of factors -- the cold war, the sudden surge of a host of newly independent nations onto the world stage, and the internationalist posture of the kennedy administration, a global preoccupation with "development," availability of federal grants and opportunities for travel -- helped make comparative politics an attractive field.
The cold war and the fear of the spread of communism and Soviet totalitarianism was the impetus for some very important works in comparative politics.
-- W.W. Rostow's The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto (1960).
-Another path-breaking book was Almond and Coleman's The Politics of Developing Areas (1960).
-Many of the new leading scholars in the field began to be strongly critical of the institutional approach. They had been caught up in the broader revolution then sweeping political science, which called for an emphasis on interest group behavior and on the more informal aspects of political behavior.

Other scholars were strongly influenced by the Parsonian revolution in sociology, particularly Talcott Parson's structural- functionalism, his presumption of a universal social science of development, his notion of a system of social and political life and change, and his "pattern variables," which seemed to offer a convenient way of contrasting developing and developed societies. The view that comparative politics should be nonparochial, nonformalistic, nonlegalistic, analytic, and genuinely comparative became the prevailing position among scholars. Gabriel Almond, influenced by Parson's structural-functionalism and applied it to the study of comparative politics. The approach was strongly represented Almond and Coleman's The Politics of the Developing Areas.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT BECAME THE MOST POPULAR AREA IN THE 1960s. New and exciting studies analyzing political development were conducted. Seymour Martin Lipset's Political Man (1959) showed the interrelations between social modernization and political democracy and implying that the two went hand in hand. As countries achieved greater literacy, were more strongly mobilized, and acquired more radio and television sets, they would also tend to become more politically developed -- i.e., liberal and democratic, just like the United States. In the 1960s the political development approach was very attractive. It was neat, coherent, intellectually and emotionally satisfying. The problem with this approach was that it presumed that Western institutions and policies both would and ought to be present in developing nations. When they were not, it was the local developing nations that were usually thought to be problematic, not the theory of development. Because these countries had few and weak parties, trade unions, and similar institutions, they were frequently declared "dysfunctional." While they may be dysfunctional in terms of the particular institutional arrangements of the West, they may be quite viable in their own terms. Thus political and moral preferences began to distort scholarly analyses. In 1968, in what many have called the last great integrating book in the field, Samuel P. Huntington provided a critical evaluation of the modernization literature and offered an alternative perspective. Huntington argued that social mobilization and modernization, rather than being supportive of and correlated with democracy and institutional development, in fact served often to undermine them in developing nations. Huntington's critique of the theories of modernization came to be generally accepted in the field, though his alternative proposal for an emphasis on orderly stable institutions such as political parties or armed forces as the key agencies of development was often criticized as a conservative formulation. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, criticism of the dominant developmentalist paradigm was widespread. The developmentalist approach was criticized as being biased, ethnocentric, and less than universal. It was accused of ignoring the phenomena of class and class conflict, the play of international market and economic forces, and dependency. As the developmentalist approach began to loose its dominant position in comparative politics, a variety of alternative approaches began to emerge. They included: the corporatist approach; the political economy (which emphasized the economic constraints on politics) and the dependency approach.

THE METHODOLOGY OF COMPARATIVE POLITICS: Many studies employ quantitative methods such as opinion surveys and aggregate analysis, and the use of time-series data has also increased. Comparative politics has developed a greater awareness of the usefulness of combining quantitative and non quantitative materials.