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BPSC-105: Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics

BPSC-105: Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: BPSC-105/ASST/TMA/2021-22

Course Code: BPSC-105

Assignment Name: Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics

Year: 2021-2022

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

There are three sections in this assignment. You have to answer all questions in each Section.


Assignment - I


Answer the following in about 500 words each. Each question carries 20 marks.


1. Examine the trends in the study of comparative politics since the Second World War.

Ans) The trends in the study of comparative politics since the Second World War:

In the nineteen thirties the political and economic situation of the world changed. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, brought into world, Socialism, as an ideology of the oppressed and, as a critical alternative to western liberalism and capitalism. With the end of the Second World War, several significant developments had taken place, including the declining of European (British) hegemony, the emergence and entrenchment of United States of America as the ‘new hegemon’ in world politics and economy, and the bifurcation of the world into two ideological camps viz. (western) capitalism and socialism. The majority of the ‘rest of the world’ had, by the time the Second World War ended, liberated itself from European imperialism. For a period after decolonisation the notions of development, modernisation, nation-building, state-building etc., evinced a degree of legitimacy and even popularity as ‘national slogans’ among the political elite of the ‘new nations’. Ideologically, however, these ‘new nations’, were no longer compelled to tow the western capitalist path of development. While socialism had its share of sympathisers among the new ruling elite of the Asia, America and Latin America, quite several newly independent countries made a conscious decision to distance themselves from both the power blocs, remaining non-aligned to either. They evolved their own specific path of development akin to the socialist, as in the case of Ujamaa in Tanzania, and the mixed-economy model in India which was a blend of capitalism and socialism.

It may be worth remembering that the comparative study of governments till the 1940s was predominantly the study of institutions, the legal-constitutional principles regulating them, and the way they functioned in western liberal-democracies. In the context of the above stated developments, a powerful critique of the institutional approach emerged in the middle of 1950s. The critique had its roots in behaviouralist which had emerged as a new movement in the discipline of politics aiming to provide scientific rigour to the discipline and develop a science of politics. Known as the ‘behavioural movement’, it was concerned with developing an enquiry which was quantitative, based on survey techniques involving the examination of empirical facts separated from values, to provide value-neutral, non-prescriptive, objective observations and explanations. The behaviouralists attempted to study social reality by seeking answers to questions like ‘why people behave politically as they do, and why as a result, political processes and systems function as they do’. It is these ‘why’ questions regarding differences in people's behaviours and their implications for political processes and political systems, which changed the focus of comparative study from the legal-formal aspects of institutions.

Thus in 1955 Roy Macridis criticised the existing comparative studies for privileging formal institutions over non-formal political processes, for being descriptive rather than analytical, and case-study oriented rather than genuinely comparative. Harry Eckstein points out that the changes in the nature and scope of comparative politics in this period show sensitivity to the changing world politics urging the need to reconceptualise the notion of politics and develop paradigms for large-scale comparisons. Rejecting the then traditional and almost exclusive emphasis on the western world and the conceptual language which had been developed with such limited comparisons in mind, Gabriel Almond and his colleagues of the American Social Science Research Council’s Committee on Comparative Politics sought to develop a theory and a methodology which could encompass and compare political systems of all kinds—primitive or advanced, democratic or non-democratic, western or non-western.


2. Critically examine the issues and problems arising from capitalist development in contemporary times.

Ans) The issues and problems arising from capitalist development in contemporary times are as follows:

  1. The first dilemma is illustrated by the widening disparity in incomes and wealth in the United States, as well as in the world: how to make free-market capitalism work better for everyone—not just the educated, the skilled, and the lucky.

  2. The second is illustrated vividly by the Enron/Arthur Andersen fiasco: how to ensure a culture of integrity, one in which people who run companies, especially big ones, strive to merit the trust of investors and employees.

  3. The third is exemplified by current battles over the federal budget and similar local dramas playing out all over the country: how to ensure that our enthusiasm for harnessing private motives to produce goods and services efficiently does not blind us to the need for public goods and to the benefits of communities working together toward shared goals.

Reducing Income Inequality

Today, free-market capitalism has won the contest among systems in a fair fight, and the job of reformers is to make it work better. But these dilemmas of modern capitalism that I want to talk about have no easy or obvious answers, because they involve balancing sometimes conflicting values that are widely and simultaneously held. First, how do we make capitalism work better for people in the bottom quarter or third of the distribution of skill, education, income, and luck? In this regard, the world’s biggest problem is in developing countries, but I’m not going to talk about that today.

Improving Corporate Culture

The second dilemma is dramatically illustrated by the spotlight on Enron and Arthur Andersen. The story will play out in the courts, but there is not much doubt about the basic facts: Enron’s public accounts didn’t give a true picture of its situation, and insiders profited hugely while misleading stockholders and employees. In many ways, the Enron story is an example of the swift justice and the self-corrective mechanisms of a free-market economy. Getting caught misleading investors is punishable by death, and there is no appeal from the court of investor wrath. The company failed. It won’t be resurrected from bankruptcy, and its auditors went down with the ship. Bankruptcies are an effective punishment that planned economies don’t have.

Providing Better Public Services

The third dilemma of capitalism involves improving public services. Our economic system depends on harnessing private motives to produce the goods and services that the public wants as efficiently as possible. This works well for most of the things we need, but not for some of the most important æ national defense, police and fire protection, roads and bridges, research and education. The danger is that we get so carried way with free-market rhetoric that we forget how important public services are and how important it is to attract able people into public service. Americans have a long tradition—going back to the Boston Tea Party—of rejecting authority. In recent years, it has again become popular to rail against the government as though it belonged to some foreign power, instead of to us. We have been treated to the comic spectacle of politicians who have worked for the government for most of their careers campaigning against the government and its “bureaucrats” as though they were talking about a foreign enemy. Then something brings us up short.

Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each. Each question carries 10 marks.


1. Explain who capitalism and democracy interact with each other.

Ans) Capitalists differ from all previous ruling classes not because they appropriate the fruits produced by workers, but because of the way they do so. They extract surplus through their legally backed claim to ownership of the major means of production, and after the free exchange of money for a worker’s ability to labour. Capitalists do not typically extract surplus from producers through the direct use of political means (such as the threat or actual use of violence, or by relying on the state authorities to compel the production of surplus). The central class relationship that defines capitalist society is therefore an economic relationship, not a directly political one. The economic interests of the capitalist class do not require them to control the government directly, because political authority is not the basis of their claim to the surplus.

Capitalism is of course compatible with political forms other than liberal democracy, as the many examples of political authoritarianism existing alongside a capitalist economy show – from European interwar fascism to Latin American bureaucratic authoritarianism to the East Asian development dictatorships. But the truly distinctive thing about capitalism is that it is compatible with formal electoral democracy. No other surplus-appropriating class in history has permitted a political system which grants suffrage rights to at least a significant portion of the direct producers (under capitalism, the working class).

However, capitalists’ tolerance of electoral democracy – which results from their highly specific political interests – is strictly limited and conditional. There are no historical cases of capitalists tolerating the outcome of elections which might threaten to transform the social relations on which their ability to extract surplus depends. And in an increasingly stagnant world economy, as rates of investment decline across the board, a zero-sum struggle for the distribution of the social surplus is beginning to emerge both between capital and labour and within the capitalist class itself. Both of these developments are profoundly damaging to the liberal-democratic mechanism, which requires “tolerance” and a willingness to accept the aleatory results of elections as legitimate.

2. Write a short note on the main issues and challenges facing contemporary socialist state.

Ans) The main issues and challenges facing contemporary socialist state are as follows:

The Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989 were the first major threat to socialist administrations. The military crackdown on the two-month-long (April to June) protests sparked a wave of pro-reform or pro-democracy uprisings (dubbed the "democracy wave") that saw communist regimes fall around the world. In September 1989, Poland's socialist regime came to an end. Hungary adopted multi-party democracy in October, ending more than four decades of communist control. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, East Germany's socialist authority came to an end. Other communist regimes in Eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and others, have fallen like dominoes. The breakup of the Soviet Union, the first socialist state, in 1991 was the most momentous event that shook socialism.

The events of 1989-1991 sparked a heated discussion about socialism's future and the socialist state structure.  It signalled the end of socialism and the triumph of liberal democracy, according to Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama used the analogy of Marxist dialectics of history as a linear progression in his seminal essay, claiming that the demise of the Soviet Union signified the 'end point of mankind's ideological growth,' and hence 'the end of history.' Fukuyama's argument was straightforward: for Marx, communism was the final step of human evolution, and he (Fukuyama) was announcing liberal democracy as the "final form of human government." Following the demise of the Soviet Union, liberal scholars have been debating the impending downfall of other communist regimes, contending that all socialist states will inevitably suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union. For example, David Schambaugh predicted the ultimate 'crack-up' of China's communist state in his book China's Future. Similar forecasts regarding the future of socialism in Cuba, Vietnam, and other countries have been made.


3. Describe the core features of the structural function model.

Ans) The core features of the structural function model are:

  1. Different places of the world have basic and sophisticated political systems. The West's industrialised matured civilizations have complex political structures, whereas the Third World's developing countries have simple frameworks. All political systems, according to Almond, have political structures. Even the most basic political systems contain political structures that can be compared to those found in the West. Although Almond admits that comparing two sorts of structures may not be fully meaningful, he believes they can be compared. Furthermore, the advent of new state systems in the Third World prompted Almond to develop a technique that will aid in comparison. Almond deserves credit for this.

  2. Although there are variances in the systems and structures, all of them perform nearly identical political roles. The frequency of the performance might be investigated for comparison analysis.

  3. Political structures can be specialised, non-specialized, or basic in nature. However, a careful examination of the many features revealed that the structures are multifunctional, meaning that while the functions of a certain structure have been specified, the structure fulfils additional functions in practise. The court's primary job, for example, is to adjudicate, but it also acts as a legislator in practise. Similarly, the legislative branch of government has been proven to function as a court of law. Pressure organisations play a role in the legislative process in liberal democracies. The multifunctional quality of structure can be recognised in both democratic and authoritarian systems.

  4. In a cultural sense, all political systems are mixed systems. Any political system's culture is a combination of modern and traditional cultures. Almond discovered that there are no all-modern and all-primitive cultures after studying the cultures of various governmental systems. The developed civilizations of the West have influenced even the cultures of primitive political systems.

Assignment – III


Write a short note on the following in about 100 words each. Each short note carries 6 marks.


1. Historical method in Comparative Politics.

Ans) Comparative historical research is a method of social science that examines historical events in order to create explanations that are valid beyond a particular time and place, either by direct comparison to other historical events, theory building, or reference to the present day. Generally, it involves comparisons of social processes across times and places. It overlaps with historical sociology. While the disciplines of history and sociology have always been connected, they have connected in different ways at different times. This form of research may use any of several theoretical orientations. It is distinguished by the types of questions it asks, not the theoretical framework it employs.


2. New Institutionalism Mode of Production.

Ans) New institutionalism, also known as neo-institutionalism, is a method of studying institutions that emphasises the restricting and enabling effects of formal and informal rules on individual and group behaviour. Sociological institutionalism, rational choice institutionalism, and historical institutionalism are the three streams of new institutionalism. In 1977, sociologist John Meyer wrote a paper called "New Institutionalism." For many years, academic research has focused on the study of institutions and their relationships. Social theorists began to organise this body of literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This approach, known as 'old' institutionalism, concentrated on comparing and contrasting the formal institutions of government and the state. It was followed by a behavioural revolution that introduced new viewpoints to political analysis, such as positivism, rational choice theory, and behaviouralist, and dismissed the restricted focus on institutions in favour of analysing individuals rather than the institutions that surrounded them. The behavioural revolution prompted the development of New Institutionalism.


3. Class analysis of political regimes by James Petras.

Ans) James Petra’s class analysis of political regimes are:

a)      the conditions under which accumulation takes place, which includes:

  1. the nature of the state (and state policy).

  2. class relations (the process of surplus extraction, intensity of exploitation, level of class struggle, the concentration of workforce).

b)     The impact of capital accumulation on class structure, which includes understanding:

  1. class formation/conversion (small proprietors to proletarians or kulaks, landlords to merchants, merchant to industrialist etc.

  2. income distribution (concentration, redistribution, reconcentration of income).

  3. social relations: labour market relations ('free' wage, trade union bargaining), semi-coercive (market and political/social controls), coercive (slave, debt peonage).

4. The concept of overdeveloped state.

Ans) In international economics, overdevelopment refers to a way of seeing global inequality and pollution that focuses on the negative consequences of excessive consumption. It exists as the mutually constitutive counterpart to the more commonly known concept of 'underdevelopment'. In mainstream development theory, the existence of 'underdeveloped' states, regions or cultures is seen as a problem that needs to be solved. States, regions, cultures and people are considered 'underdeveloped' in that they do not adhere to Eurocentric ideals of rationality, progress, and modernity that are associated with the Enlightenment. In contrast, the framework of overdevelopment shifts the focus to the 'developed' countries of the global North, asking "questions about why excessive consumption amongst the affluent is not also seen foremost as an issue of development". By questioning how and why uneven development is produced in the world, one can evaluate the global North’s role and responsibility as “over developers” in producing global inequality. According to various surveys, consumption is seemingly not making people notably happy, but rather increasing the West's ecological footprint. Overdevelopment has a huge impact on the environment, the social realm, human rights, and the global economy.


5. Rule of Law Concept.

Ans) According to Prof. Dicey, rules of law contain three principles, or it has three meanings as stated below:

  1. Supremacy of Law: The First meaning of the Rule of Law is that 'no man is punishable or can lawfully be made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary courts of the land

  2. Equality before Law: the Second meaning of the Rule of Law is no man is above law

  3. Predominance of Legal Spirit or the Third meaning of the Rule of Law is the general principles of the constitution are the result of juridical decisions determining file rights of private persons in particular cases brought before the Court.

Dicey’s Rule of Law

The Rule of Law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. The rule follows logically from the idea that truth, and therefore law, is based upon fundamental principles which can be discovered, but which cannot be created through an act of will.

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