Lesson 3, Topic 2
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1.2 Limitations of the comparative method

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1. Inter-Connection between Norms, Institutions and Behavior: In the first instance, there are difficulties arising from the inter-connection between norms, institutions and behavior which stem from the fact that some governments exist naturally and others are imposed. Traditionally, this question was examined through the study of gap between constitution and ‘real’ political life, this gap is important, as no constitution will ever be fully implemented. But the problem is more general. Constitutions are only one type of normative arrangement under which countries can be organized.

2. Range of Variables: The analysis can become precise only when it is possible to list and weigh the numerous variables which enter into the ‘definition’ of a political system. The list of variables is impressive and the task in impossible to calculate as many of these variables lack quantitative formalization. Economic conditions, social conditions, the climate, physical geography and some others, all seem to be a part of the ‘explanation’ of political system and all have been used at one period or another by political scientists anxious to explain’ the norms, institutions and behaviors of nations. Since the range of variables of politics is very large it is not possible to empirically and comprehensively analyze all these.

3. Problems in the Way of Using Scientific Method are also Problems of Comparative Politics: Hindrances in the way of application of Scientific Methods to Social Science Research are also hindrances in the way of Comparative Politics. The problem resulting from complexity of social data; The problem of using empirical methods in the study of human political relations and interactions; The problem of verification and prediction making in politics; The issue of explanation and prediction in politics; etc. All these hindrances combine to create a big hindrance in the use of the scientific method in Comparative Politics studies. However, gradually political scientists have been overcoming these difficulties. Comparative Politics studies are now becoming quite well- organized and systematic.

4. Problem of Empirical Study: Comparative Politics stands for scientific and empirical study of all phenomena of polities. It gives rise to the problems associated with the observation and collection of facts.

5. The Problem of Objectivity: Scientific and empirical study of Politics demands objectivity in the observation, collection and analyze of the facts of the processes under study. It demands an ability to keep ones values and biases away from the universe of the study. For this, the researcher has to maintain a high level of alertness and commitment to maintain, objectivity. This requirement also acts as a source of big hindrance in the way of Comparative Politics studies.

6. Dynamic Nature of Politics: Politics is an aspect of human behavior and like all other aspects of human behavior, it is also highly dynamic. Further, a big gap is always present in the theory and practice of all political systems. This always acts as a big hindrance in the way of every realistic study of politics.

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