(15 Weeks) / 60-80% of the AP Examination
As with all political science, there is no clear consensus as to what countries fall into which types. Political systems do not always fit neatly into rigid categories, and every political system is both unique and constantly in flux. All classification is at best partial, temporary, and a simplification of reality. When reality is oversimplified, however, key points are often overlooked, and the lifeblood is drained out of the study of politics. Therefore, the final tool of comparative politics is obvious: comparison itself. Comparison puts the emphasis on the inductive and intuitive sides of theory development. It allows the political scientist to compare the ways in which governments and nations respond to similar problems, and attempt to meet the needs and demands of their citizens. There are now over 170 recognized nation-states in the world. Most political scientists now assign each of these countries to one of three basic groups whose broad theoretical parameters don't differ much from framework to framework: Industrialized Democracies (the First World), Communist States and Former Communist States (the Second World), and the Lesser Developed Countries (the Third World). Using the tools of comparative analysis, each of the six core countries will be evaluated according to the following format: political development (history and society), political process (voting, parties, and interest groups), political institutions (structure, function, and framework), and public policy (economic, domestic, and foreign). In this unit, there is only one rule: if there is conflict between the theoretical model and reality, always let reality be your guide.
The Central Intelligence Agency