The fact that there are similarities and differences across political boundaries is at the heart of comparative politics. Comparativists research everything from the causes of civil war to effective provision of public goods. The study of comparative politics embraces cross-national and cross-regional research, as well as “within country” studies that evaluate differences and similarities among states, districts, or towns, or across policy spheres. It utilizes many methods such as qualitative and quantitative analysis. Most specialists develop expertise in particular countries or regions in the course of their work. This knowledge is important for accurate description and for theory building and testing. It helps us see causal relationships that immersion in our own societies and cultures might lead us to ignore.
Princeton’s comparative politics faculty -- comprised of experts on China, Japan, India, Africa, Europe, Russia, Latin America, and other areas -- represents a range of methodological approaches and area specialties. Current faculty research topics include: the development of political party systems, the origins of political polarization and partisan attachment, attitudes toward democracy, the character and effectiveness of welfare states and “developmental states,” effectiveness of service delivery, the origins of distinctive bureaucratic cultures, trade policy and compliance with international agreements that open markets, the emergence of independent judiciaries, constitutional design, the settlement of civil wars, post-conflict institution building, and state formation.
The Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) houses fellows, funds conferences and speakers, and supports courses and student research.
The Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, the Law and Public Affairs Program, and the Program in Political Economy bring in visiting specialists of interest to the comparative politics group on a regular basis.
In addition, the University’s regional studies programs (many listed on the PIIRS website) are a source of interdisciplinary engagement for comparativists. Most of these programs offer support for student research abroad, available on a competitive basis.
There are also faculty members with related interests in the Woodrow Wilson School and other disciplines such as History, Economics and Sociology.