The Political Decision Making Sphere

2002 Words9 Pages
The study of comparative politics is largely influenced by the conflicting importance placed on ‘institutions’ by theorists and researchers alike. This split is broadly characterised by its relationship to other actors in the political decision making sphere, most notably ‘the state’. This paper aims to initially define institutions, demonstrating its vast characterisations, before assessing their real value in comparative research. It will then compare this value with that of traditional theories of the state, to yield that the state is indeed less important than institutions are for comparative research. However, the greater intention of this analysis is to submit that state-centric comparative research has become less valuable, and…show more content…
It will offer a perspective from those arguing that ‘the state’ is above all, a devalued concept, and accordingly the role that the state plays in comparative research is overstated. While not to discredit their value in comparative research, this analysis will not address the role that the individual or democratisation has in comparative research to any great depth. Similarly, it will not address any perceived erosions of the archetypal state through globalisation. Instead, this essay will focus solely on traditional theories of ‘the state’ and of ‘institutions’ as a comparative method. The study of comparative politics itself as a research field offers an academic framework for researchers to study “what governments do and how and why they do it” (Heidenheimer, 1985, p442). What distinguishes comparative politics is an inherent focus not only on policies, but also the “endeavour to link it to phenomena” (ibid). There is some broad academic agreement with this, submitting that the “underlying goal” of comparative research revolves around the “comparison of social entities” to “search for similarity and variance” (Mills et al, 2006, p621). This essay will broadly interpret ‘comparative research’ to be a scholarly understanding of the similarities and differences of state policy and the broader political themes such policies are indicative of. There can be little doubt that ‘institutions’ have existed as a central point of scholarship in comparative
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