Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-llglr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-14T02:59:00.913Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The nature and future of comparative politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2009

Philippe C. Schmitter*
Emeritus Professor, European University Institute, Florence, Italy Recurring Visiting Professor, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary


The future of comparative politics is in doubt. This sub-discipline of political science currently faces a ‘crossroads’ that will determine its nature and role. In this essay, I make a (willfully distorted) plea that it should eschew the alternative of continuing to follow one or another versions of ‘institutionalism’ or that of opting completely for ‘simplification’ based on rational choice. It should embrace the ‘complex interdependence’ of the contemporary political universe and adjust its selection of cases and concepts accordingly. Without pretending to offer a novel paradigm or method. I explore some of the implications of conducting comparative research in this more contingent and less predictable context.

Research Article
Copyright © European Consortium for Political Research 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Almond, G. (1990), A Discipline Divided. Schools and Sects in Political Science, Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
Almond, G. et al. (1973), Crisis, Choice and Change: Historical Stories of Political Development, Boston: Little Brown.Google Scholar
Ragin, C.C. (1987), The Comparative Method, Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Ragin, C.C. (1994), Constructing Social Research, Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
Sartori, G. (1970), ‘Concept misinformation in comparative politics’, American Political Science Review, LXIV(4): 10331053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schmitter, P.C. (1996), ‘Imagining the future of the Euro-Polity with the help of new concepts’, in G. Marks, F. Scharpf, P.C. Schmitter and W. Streeck (eds), Governance in the European Union, London:Sage Publications, pp. 121150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tilly, C. (1984), Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar