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Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft/Comparative Politics


Why do some states develop inclusive and democratic institutions while others don’t? Why are state institutions strong in some subnational areas, while they remain virtually absent in others? Why do some parties run on policy programs, others on patronage? Why do some civil society organizations effectively influence political developments, while others fail? As a field of study, comparative politics focuses on analyzing domestic political institutions and behavior. The subfield is primarily interested in political dynamics within states rather than in states’ external relations and interactions. In addition to specific objects of enquiry, the subfield of comparative politics is also defined by the specific method it applies: it focuses on revealing and understanding similarities and differences between and among political phenomena – based on qualitative information, on quantitative analyses, (field) experiments or any other methods of comparison. The analysis of states and state formation, of political regimes and transitions, political stability and conflict, processes of mass mobilization as well as the analysis of governance in comparative perspective are core research areas in contemporary comparative politics.


Teaching in comparative politics at the University of Osnabrück combines introductory courses with more specialized offerings focusing on the specific areas of research – namely comparative analyses of processes of state formation, political institutions in autocracies as well as on development interventions in conflict-affected states. Specifically, the subfield contributes two introductory teaching modules to the BA program and one module to the MA program “Democratic Governance and Civil Society”. The basic module “Comparative Politics I” provides an introduction to theories and methods as well as to their application to comparative analyses of political systems. The module “Comparative Politics II” focuses on empirical investigations into democratic and autocratic political systems. Courses in the MA program concentrate on more in-depth analytical and empirical analyses of civil societies, the processing of political demands as well as democracy promotion.


Research in comparative politics at the University of Osnabrück focuses primarily on comparative analyses of processes of state-building and state formation, of agencies and actors of state repression in authoritarian states as well as on development and humanitarian aid in conflict-affected countries.