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Introducing Comparative Politics

Introducing Comparative Politics
The Essentials

First Edition

January 2018 | 464 pages | CQ Press

Introducing Comparative Politics: The Essentials is organized thematically around the essential questions in comparative politics—Who rules? What explains political behavior? Where and why? Adapted from the authors’ Introducing Comparative Politics, Fourth Edition, The Essentials version offers the same framework for understanding comparative politics in a briefer format. Instructors have greater flexibility in teaching the course because this version of Stephen Orvis and Carol Ann Drogus’ best-seller does not include extended case studies. Loaded with contemporary examples and up-to-date research, this streamlined text helps students engage with the critical issues shaping global politics today.


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Part I A Framework for Understanding Comparative Politics
Chapter 1. Introduction
The Big Issues  
Comparative Politics: What Is It? Why Study It? How to Study It?  
Three Key Questions in Comparative Politics  
Chapter 2. The Modern State
Characteristics of the Modern State  
Historical Origins of Modern States  
Strong, Weak, and Failed States  
Chapter 3. States, Citizens, and Regimes
Citizens and Civil Society  
Regimes, Ideologies, and Citizens  
Chapter 4. States and Identity
Understanding Identity  
The Policy Debate  
Nations and Nationalism  
Religion: Recognition, Autonomy, and the Secular State  
Gender and Sexual Orientation: The Continuing Struggle for Recognition, Social Status, and Representation  
Part II Political Systems and How They Work
Chapter 5. Governing Institutions in Democracies
Executives and Legislatures  
Comparing Executive-Legislative Institutions  
Chapter 6. Institutions of Participation and Representation in Democracies
The Electoral System  
Formal Institutions: Political Parties and Party Systems  
Civil Society  
Chapter 7. Contentious Politics: Social Movements, Political Violence, and Revolution
Framing Contentious Politics  
Political Violence  
Chapter 8. Authoritarian Institutions
Authoritarian Rule around the World  
Governing Institutions in Authoritarian Regimes  
Elections, Parties, and Civil Society in Authoritarian Regimes  
Chapter 9. Regime Change
The Military in Politics: Coups d'État  
Part III Political Economy and Policy
Chapter 10. Political Economy of Wealth
The Market, Capitalism, and the State  
Key Economic Debates  
Types of Capitalist Economies  
Globalization: A New World Order, or Déjà Vu All Over Again?  
Chapter 11. Political Economy of Development
What Is "Development"?  
Development and Globalization  
The Development Debate  
Chapter 12. Public Policies When Markets Fail: Welfare, Health, and the Environment
"Welfare": Social Policy in Comparative Perspective  
Health Care and Health Policy  
Environmental Problems and Policy  

“I think the discussion of government systems is one of the most challenging topics in this class for students. The chapter does a great job presenting theory, explaining concepts, giving examples and comparing systems. I would assign it to my students as required reading without hesitation.”

Anca Turcu
University of Central Florida

 “It is an exceptionally good idea that the themes of the book are also presented in the case study analysis, which will help students see these concepts in action.  My current text focuses on one aspect of our thematic analysis for each case, but I would like a text that I can use to highlight key themes throughout the case, rather than a singular focus.”

Season Hoard
Washington State University

“I strongly believe there is a need for such a textbook. The quality of Volume I (as suggested by Chapter 6), its tight and organized presentation, and its effective embedding of the “need-to-know” questions in the existing and well-referenced scholarly literature suggests it would be a major contribute to the textbook market in comparative politics.  The separating out of the cases from the thematic coverage through the two-volume format would give many instructors more of a choice.  I like that!”

Thomas D. Lancaster
Emory University
Key features


  • Chapter-opening key questions help students focus on the key issues as they read the chapter and encourage debate in class. The chapters sometimes provide conclusive answers to the key questions, but more often they show students different ways the questions can be answered or approached.
  • Multiple “In Context” features in every chapter illustrate basic data about the chapter topics so students can set that idea into a comparative (and sometimes provocative) context.
  • Critical Inquiry features highlight methodological issues in comparative politics, providing a gateway for empirical study and analysis.
  • More than a hundred full color tables, figures, and maps help students visualize comparative data and better understand concepts. 
  • End-of-chapter lists of key concepts with page references are included to help students to easily study and review the concepts, and a list of works cited and a list of important print and electronic references offer students resources for further research.

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ISBN: 9781506385693