Global Advanced Research Journal of History, Political Science and International Relations ISSN:2315-506X
March 2012 Vol. 1(2), pp 032-041
Copyright © 2012 Global Advanced Research Journals



Comparative politics: From Aristotle to the new millennium. What have we learned?

John Maszka

Aurora University, Department of Social Sciences, 347 South Gladstone Avenue  Aurora, IL 60506-4892


Accepted 20 March 2012


It has been a long time since the days of Aristotle. In some respects, things have changed tremendously. Having gone through three waves, Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991). democracy is now a global phenomenon, universal adult suffrage is now the norm, and most modern states are far too large and complex for direct democracy to be efficient. Therefore, democracy has adapted and grown to meet the new challenges of modernity. With these growing pains have come several learning experiences.  What have we learned so far? The question immediately brings to mind the early survey research of Campbell et. al. Angus Campbell, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes, The American Voter, (New York: Wiley, 1960). concluding that the average voter lacked the sophistication to vote effectively. This elitist view was shared by many in this period, and it led to the classic Civic Culture reassuring us all that it was okay for some of us to be mere political simpletons, because if we were all political elites, nothing would get accomplished.  This essay discusses the various insights that structural, cultural, and rational approaches provide for an understanding of liberal democracy. What have we learned since Aristotle? This is a tall order for any scholar. However, this essay focuses on the extent to which the various theoretical approaches utilize exogenous explanations. A common thread in comparative politics today is the growing number of scholars employing institutional analyses. Therefore, this essay concludes that each of the theoretical lenses is useful in explaining political phenomena. Though each theoretical approach focuses on different independent variables with their own consequent level of analysis, each approach is both equally useful and equally dependent upon institutional explanations. As Schmitter and Karl Philippe C. Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, “What Democracy Is. . . and Is Not,” Journal of Democracy 2:3 (1991), 75-88. maintain, democracy does not exist in an institutional vacuum. It is largely dependent upon the structures and socioeconomic conditions surrounding it. This essay argues that the opposite is true as well.

Keywords: Politics, Aristotle and millennium


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