This article throws light upon the twelve main subjects included in the scope of comparative politics. Some of the subjects are: 1. All Political Structures 2. Functional Studies 3. Study of Political Behaviour 4. Study of Similarities and Differences 5. Study of all Political Systems 6. Study of the Environment and Infrastructure of Politics and Others.
1. All Political Structures:
The scope of Comparative Politics includes the study of all the formal and informal, governmental and extra-governmental, which are directly or indirectly involved in the struggle for power taking place in each state. It is not confined only to the study of the three formal governmental organs-legislature, executive and judiciary.
Along with these, Bureaucracy, Interest Groups, Pressure Groups, Elites, Political Parties and all other political groups of human beings form a part of the scope of Comparative Politics.
2. Functional Studies:
Comparative Politics seeks to study politics less from the point of view of the legal institutions in terms of their powers, and more from the point of view of the functions which constitute the political process and their actual operation in the environment. It studies the functions of interest articulation, interest aggregation, political communication, rule-making, rule-application, rule-adjudication, socialization, decision making, policy-making and the like.
3. Study of Political Behaviour:
Another important part of the scope of Comparative Politics is the study of the actual behaviour of the people in the process of politics. Voting behaviour, political participation, leadership recruitment, elite behaviour, mass politics, populism etc. form an integral part of Comparative Politics.
4. Study of Similarities and Differences:
Comparative Politics also undertakes an analysis of the similarities and differences among political processes and functions. However, the approach is not descriptive, legalistic and formalistic. It is on the basis of the actual functioning of political structures and processes that the similarities and dissimilarities are empirically explained, analyzed and compared. The objective is not to decide which is the best process or system. The objective is systematic explanation, understanding, and theory- building.
5. Study of all Political Systems:
Comparative Politics seeks to analyse the actual behaviour and performance of political systems-Western as well as non-Western. Political Systems are analysed and compared in terms of their structures, functions, capabilities and performances. Here again, the objective is not to decide which political system is the best. The actual working of various political systems is analysed with a view to gather systematic knowledge for theory-building.
6. Study of the Environment and Infrastructure of Politics:
The study of Politics demands a study of the psychological, sociological, economic and anthropological environment, in fact, the social environment as whole, in which each political system operates. For studying this, modern political scientists have developed concepts like political culture, political socialization, political modernisation etc.
The study of the political culture of various political systems forms a very popular focus in comparative politics. Study of the Infra-structure of politics forms an integral part of the scope of Comparative Politics. This concept has definitely enhanced the ability of political scientists to explain and compare the behaviour of various political systems in their environments. It has further helped them to analyse the differences in the working of similar political systems and the gaps between micro-politics and macro-politics.
7. Study of Political Culture:
Political Culture is composed of attitudes, beliefs, emotions and values of a society that relate to the political system and to political issues. These beliefs and values greatly influence the functioning of each political system. The study of Political Culture is an important part of the scope of Comparative Politics. Political Culture constitutes the psychological environment of each political system and hence deserves full attention.
8. Study of Political Socialisation:
Political Socialisation is the process by which an individual acquires his Political Culture. It is also included in the scope of comparative politics because the behaviour of each political system depends to a large extent on this process. It is the process by which Political Cultures are maintained and changed.
9. Study of Political Participation:
Political participation is a universal fact. The only difference is that in some states, it is limited while in others it is wider. Political participation provides legitimacy to the government and administration, and brings stability in it because a system which is based on the consent and will of the people and where the participation of the people is wider, always more efficient and stable. The students of comparative politics seek to know how political participation influences the functional aspect of political systems in different states. Moreover, they also try to know the factors which determine political participation and their role in politics.
10. Study of Pressure Groups and Interest Groups:
Organised groups are found in every political system. Some of them are formed voluntarily by individuals for fulfilling some special and common objectives e.g., Political Parties, Interest Groups and Pressure Groups, etc.
Besides, there are some groups which come into existence suddenly due to a particular event and remain in existence for a short period. These groups reflect the wishes of the people through public meetings, symbols, programmes, demonstrations, etc., and try to influence the working of the political system. Political Parties contest elections, form government, criticize government and perform other such function.
There is one-party system in communist countries (China); there are at work two-party systems in countries like the USA and the UK and in some countries like India, France and Switzerland there are at work multi-party systems. The nature of the party systems and the number and activities of interest groups always exercise a deterministic role in the working of a democratic political system.
Therefore, the students of Comparative Politics have to evaluate minutely the structure, working and policy-programmes of these groups.
11. Study of Power, Influence, Authority and Legitimacy:
Modern political scientists lay special emphasis on the study of ‘Power.’ ‘Influence’, ‘Authority’ and Legitimacy. They use these concepts for a classification of political systems on the basis of the nature of authority relations and struggle for power. As such, the study of the concepts of Power, Influence, Legitimacy and Authority occupies an important place in the scope of Comparative Politics.
12. Study of Political Processes:
Political processes like Decision-making, Policymaking, Judicial Process, Leadership recruitment process and others, are always at work in all political systems. The actual working of a political system depends upon these processes. Therefore, a comparative study of all the political processes is also an integral part of the scope of Comparative Politics.
Thus, the scope of Comparative Politics has become very comprehensive. It includes everything that falls within the purview of political activity and political process. It seeks to study all mechanisms of politics with a view to build a science of politics capable of explaining and comparing all political activities, processes, and systems.
It involves a study of all structures and functions, which directly or indirectly, vigorously or passively affect the political processes in all states. Political Behaviour, Political Culture, Political Socialisation, Decision-making, Power-struggle, Interest Groups, Political Parties, Elites, Direct Action, Public Protests, Violence, Urbanisation, Modernisation, Power influence authority etc., are all included in the scope of Comparative Politics.