This article throws light upon the top eight features of comparative politics. Some of the features are: 1. Analytical and Empirical Research 2. Objective Study of Politics 3. Emphasis Upon the Study of Infra-Structure of Politics 4. Inter-Disciplinary Focus 5. Study of Political Processes in both Developed and Developing Countries 6. Horizontal and Vertical Comparisons and Others.
Feature # 1. Analytical and Empirical Research:
Comparative Politics focuses on analytical empirical research. It is no longer confined to descriptive studies. It seeks to analyse, empirically and analytically, the actual activities of the governments and their structures and functions. It stands for scientific studies of politics.
Feature # 2. Objective Study of Politics:
Comparative Politics involves a value-neutral empirical study of the various processes of politics in their environment. Only those values are admitted whose validity can be scientifically demonstrated. It basically concentrates upon the study of what is and not what should be.
It rejects the normative-prescriptive approach of the comparative government. It aims at developing an empirical and objective theory of politics capable of explaining and comparing all phenomena of politics.
Feature # 3. Emphasis Upon the Study of Infra-Structure of Politics:
Comparative Politics now seeks to analyse the actual political behaviour of individuals, groups, structures, sub-systems and systems in relation to the environment in which their behaviour manifests. It is now not confined to the study of formal institutions of government in terms of their legal powers and functions.
It seeks to analyse the actual behaviour of all political structures in the environment. To study the dynamics of politics i.e., its actual operation in the environment, is regarded as the key focus of Comparative Politics. The study of the decision-making process in a given environment, for example, forms an integral part of Comparative Politics.
Feature # 4. Inter-Disciplinary Focus:
Comparative Politics accepts the desirability and need for adopting inter-disciplinary focus. It accepts the need to study politics with the help of the knowledge of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics and other social sciences. Political behaviour is a part of the general social behaviour, and is intimately related to all other aspects of human behaviour.
As such, it can be systematically analysed only with reference to other social sciences. Further, the study of political structures can be studied only in relation with the social structures. This again makes it imperative for the students of Comparative Politics to adopt an inter-disciplinary focus.
Feature # 5. Study of Political Processes in both Developed and Developing Countries:
Whereas in its traditional form, it involved only the study of the governments of the developed societies, in contemporary times, it places great stress on the study of the political systems of developed as well as developing societies.
The biased and parochial nature of traditional studies stands replaced by all-embracing studies of developing as well as developed political systems. Study of political systems of Asia, Africa and Latin America enjoys equal importance with the study of American and European political systems. Modern political scientists, like Almond, Coleman, Sidney Verba, David Easton, Powell and Edward Shills, have given considerable importance to the study of politics in developing societies.
It has been accepted by all the political scientists that Comparative Politics must include all political systems of our times, developed as well as developing, European as well as non-European, and major as well as minor. Each political system is a laboratory which can provide useful insights into the processes of politics and lead to the collection of data which can provide valuable threads for knitting a theory of politics.
Feature # 6. Horizontal and Vertical Comparisons:
Comparative Politics involves both a comparative study of the political structures and functions of national political systems of various states and also a comparative study of the political structures at work within a single state. The former is called horizontal comparative studies and the latter vertical comparative studies. Traditionally under comparative government, emphasis was placed only upon horizontal comparative studies. In contemporary comparative politics studies however, equal importance is given to both types of comparisons.
Feature # 7. Scientific Theory-Building as the Objective:
The objective of the study of Comparative Politics is not only to make comparative studies of the similarities and dissimilarities of different political systems but also to build a theory of politics. Scientific theory-building is its objective.
David M. Wood observes, “The word ‘comparative’ is used with the purpose of laying stress on the fact that it is the responsibility of political science that for the purpose of comparison, the different political systems should be taken as a unit so that a special theory is formulated and tested”. The purpose is to develop concepts, approaches and theories which can be used for scientific theory-building in politics.
Feature # 8. Conceptualization of Politics as Political System:
Comparative Politics has adopted the concept of system for the study of Politics. The concept of Political system has virtually replaced the concept of state. It stands adopted as a new analytical too which has enabled political scientists to Study politics comprehensively, realistically and empirically?
It is used both for macro and micro, and horizontal and vertical studies of politics. It is a very useful tool for comparative studies of political systems in terms of their structures, functions and processes.
With all these features, Comparative Politics is almost a new science of politics. It has rejected the non-comprehensive scope, formal character, legal and institutional framework, normative and prescriptive approach and parochial nature of the traditional comparative studies of politics (Comparative Government). It now involves a comprehensive, precise and realistic study of politics which is capable of explaining and comparing all phenomena of politics in all parts of the globe.