Political Science | Comparative Public Policy
Y665 | 9864 | Furniss

The intellectual challenge to seminars in comparative public policy
has been well stated by Elliot Feldman: “The introduction of
comparison into the analysis of public policy promises to explore the
range of choice available to societies whose perception of choice may
be bound by institutions, economics, social structure and culture…And
it promises to be an embracing theory for politics, as well as
policy, because comparison helps establish norms of judgment and
helps distinguish the essential from the trivial.” These are the
promises. In describing the realities we will assume that good social
science requires a set of diverse tools for inquiry.

We will begin the seminar with an effort to delineate the boundaries
and methods of the field. What do we mean by “comparison”? What do we
mean by “policy”? What are some of the major issues in “comparative
methods?” We then will consider a number of recent conceptual
developments and arguments. Our substantive focus will be comparative
social policy; I am ready to consider alternatives to meet particular

In terms of readings, I will attempt to meld basic works which all
graduate students should know with recent, important contributions to
the effort to narrow the gap between the promise and the reality of
comparative policy analysis. My expectations are that each seminar
member will draw a number of research questions and research issues
from the readings and discussion. We will conclude with an all too
brief look at what our responsibilities as policy analysts should be,
if any, to “real world” social and political problems.

I would be pleased to discuss specifics with anyone who might be