Democratic peace theory in Wester European states custom essay

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Topics BA Thesis Groups 2011 1. Current Issues in Comparative Politics . To what extent do institutions matter? What is, for example, the effect of the design of an electoral system on the degree of electoral misconduct? Or what is the effect of semi-presidentialism on democratic stability? To what extent do niche parties differ from mainstream ones? How can we explain the rise of right-wing parties? Under which conditions does radical market reform come about? Why does such reform result in electoral losses in some countries, but not in others? Given the socio-economic pressures for welfare state reform and given the institutional and political hindrances to such reform, what is the actual degree and shape of welfare state reform? What are the consequences of welfare state reform, i.e., does reform increases or decreases the level of inequality in a society? To what extent do institutions like corporatism or pluralism, or types of democracy (consensus democracy versus majoritarian democracy) matter for economic performance? These are but some of the questions focused upon in comparative politics today. This thesis group is intended for students who want to explore a current issue in comparative politics. You can pick any issue you like. For inspiration, you may want to go through some volumes of Comparative Political Studies, Comparative (European) Politics or European Journal of Political Science (note that the latter journal includes also non-comparativist contributions). Since the subfield of comparative politics has no substantive focus in itself, the shared focus of this thesis group is a methodological one; you are all expected to come up with a research design based on the comparative method. The readings for the Seminar Comparative and International Relations will show that there is not one best way to conduct comparative research. For some research questions, a qualitative (small-n) design will be the most suited, for others a quantitative (large-n) design will be the way to go. In fact, the intense scholarly debate about quantitative versus qualitative methods is one of the main current issues in comparative politics today. Students in this thesis group are expected to discuss both their substantive topic (e.g., electoral misconduct; market reform), as well as demonstrate their understanding of the methodological choices underlying their research design. Literature suggestions: Ebbinghaus, B. (2005) ‘When less is more: Selection problems in large-N and small-N cross-national comparisons’, International Sociology 20(2): 133-152. Gallagher, M., M. Laver, P. Mair (2006) Representative government in modern Europe. New York: McGraw-Hill. Keman, H. (2008) ‘Comparative research methods’, in: D. Caramani (ed.), Comparative politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 63-83. Kenworthy, L. (2006) ‘Institutional coherence and macroeconomic performance’, Socio-Economic Review, 4(1): 69-91. Landman, Todd (2005) Issues and methods in comparative politics: An introduction. London and New York: Routledge. Molina, O., M. Rhodes (2002) ‘Corporatism: The past, present, and future of a concept’, Annual Review of Political Science, 5: 305-331. 2 Peters, B. Guy (2008) ‘Approaches in comparative politics’, in: D. Caramani (ed.), Comparative politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 44-63. Starke, P. (2006) ‘The politics of Welfare State retrenchment: A literature review’, Social Policy & Administration, 40 (1): 104-120. Formal requirements BA/PMC Thesis Political Science 2011 Format – The thesis paper should be typewritten and printed one-sided on numbered pages with proper margins, a font of size 12 pt (Times New Roman) or 10 pt (Arial or Tahoma) and 1.5 line spacing; – The title page should bear a real title (i.e. not just an indication of the subject), perhaps a sub-title, the date and course, and your name and address; – Use headings and sub-headings, but with moderation; – Include a table of contents; – Include an abstract of 150-200 words; – 6,000-7,000 words, excluding bibliography and annexes. Language The thesis must be written in Dutch or in English. Correct spelling and grammar are required. Contents – Introduction: statement of research problem Research problems usually involve either – a contradiction between established theories and certain facts or – a contradiction between different theories explaining the same phenomenon. Also clarify the wider societal and the academic relevance of a solution to this research problem. – Review of the State of the Art Describe what others already have done to tackle the research problem or closely related issues, based on the existing literature. Organize related work – impose structure on the discussion. Only include work that is relevant to your research problem. Critique the existing work – where could it be improved? – Research question Based on a review of the state of the art, make obvious what still has to be done – and what your study intends to contribute. Based on this, formulate your research question. Express this question in the clearest possible way. If necessary formulate partial research questions, logically deducted from the general research question (so that answering the partial questions answers the general question). This can also be done after the theoretical framework has been clarified (see below). (If applicable:) Clarify which aspects of the wider research problem you will not be able to address, and why. – Theoretical framework Discuss the merits of existing theory/theories that could contribute to answering your research question. Discuss both the broad meta-theoretical orientation as well as the more substantive theories. Argue why the theory/theories that you have chosen is/are better able tackle the research question than alternative ones (or why you have to develop a new theory). Describe your theoretical framework, in particular the – explanandum/dependent variable (what has to be explained/understood) as well as the – explanans/independent variables(s)/hypotheses (how can this be explained/understood). Clarify the spatial and temporal bounds of your theoretical framework. – Operationalization Clarify and define the concepts you are using, based on the theoretical framework. Discuss 2 alternative conceptualizations and reason why the chosen one is the most appropriate, given the research problem/question. If applicable: develop indicators/measurements for variables. – Methodology Reason your choice of method(s) and technique(s) for data gathering and interpretation. Discuss possible data sources. This could inter alia include: – existing data sets; – existing literature or documents; – types of respondents for your own survey or your own interviews. Describe criteria for case selection (e.g. in case of small- n comparisons: based on Most Similar System Design or on Most Different System Design?). – Time frame Spell out the steps necessary to implement your research design and the time this would take – Bibliography Quotations, references and bibliography Information on how to quote, reference and construct the bibliography can be found in the Writing Guide Political Science, which is available on the page Literature. Make sure to follow these rules strictly, since theses that contain (several) errors in this respect will be returned ungraded. In the Writing Guide, you can also find some additional information on the technical requirements of written work. Plagarism The bachelor/pre-master’s thesis should be your own original piece of work, which means that you should not have handed it in before for other courses. It is also means that you do not present the work of others as your own. PLAGIARISM IS NOT ALLOWED. Plagiarism includes copying whole paragraphs from the texts of others, or, even worse, handing in a complete paper that is not yours. However, you also plagiarise if you ‘forget’ to indicate that a particular quotation is indeed just that, a quotation, and not your own words. This equally applies if you’ translate’ it into your own words: then you should not put that between quotation marks but still give the appropriate source. The Department of Political Science of the VU has a very strict policy on plagiarism, with severe sanctions.

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