Countries and Concepts : Politics, Geography, Culture

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-01-01
  • Publisher: Pearson College Div
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For undergraduate courses in Political Science, including Introduction to Comparative Politics and Introduction to European Politics, Introduction to Politics; and for courses in Cultural Diversity and International Studies. Eminently readable and written with candor and spirit, this 8th edition of Countries and Concepts continues the loose theoretical approach of the previous editions, simply observing that politics is composed of human conflicts or quarrels, forming patterns that can be studied. Analyzing four European nations and Japan at some length and four Third World nations more briefly, this text studies the history, institutions, geography, and political culture of each to provide valuable comparative information in the course of the semester.

Table of Contents

1. The Concept of Country.


2. The Impact of the Past.
3. Britain: The Key Institutions.
4. British Political Culture.
5. Britain: Patterns of Interaction.
6. What Britons Quarrel About.


7. France: The Impact of the Past.
8. France: The Key Institutions.
9. French Political Culture.
10. France: Patterns of Interaction.
11. What the French Quarrel About.


12. Germany: The Impact of the Past.
13. Germany: The Key Institutions.
14. German Political Culture.
15. Germany: Patterns of Interaction.
16. What Germans Quarrel About.


17. Russia: The Impact of the Past.
18. Russia: The Key Institutions.
19. Russian Political Culture.
20. Russia: Patterns of Interaction.
21. What Russians Quarrel About.


22. Japan: The Impact of the Past.
23. Japan: The Key Institutions.
24. Japanese Political Culture.
25. Japan: Patterns of Interaction.
26. What Japanese Quarrel About.


27. China.
28. Brazil.
29. South Africa.
30. Iran.
31. Lessons of Nine Countries.


A Note to Instructors My feelings about the eighth edition ofCountries and Conceptsare contained in a possibly apocryphal early edition ofPravda,printed at the height of the Bolshevik Revolution, that advised its readers: "No news today. Events moving too fast." This edition ofCountries and Conceptstries to keep up with events. Britain, France, and Germany have all had elections. Russia seems to be stabilizing, albeit on a "quasiauthoritarian" basis. Only Japan does not change, and it needs to. Many instructors reported favorably on the inclusion of political-geography material in the seventh edition, so that material is somewhat expanded in the eighth edition. Instructors who have adopted this text have agreed that ignorance of geography is widespread; the subject seems to have been dropped from most school curricula. At the behest of Lycoming's education department--students were doing poorly on the geography section of state teacher exams--I offered Political Geography at Lycoming. I heard similar concerns from other instructors, soCountries and Conceptstries to fill this educational gap by combining political material with geographical material. For example, the discussion of German institutions lends itself to a Geography feature box on federations. Also continued in the eighth edition are the chapter-opening "Questions to Consider" to prime students for the main points and the running glossaries, labeled "Key Terms," to make sure students are building their vocabularies as they read. The definitions here are those of a political scientist; in other contexts one might find different definitions. The feature boxes are divided into five main categories--Geography, Democracy, Personalities, Political Culture, and Comparison--to give them greater focus and continuity. The structure and purpose ofCountries and Conceptscontinue as before. The book analyzes four European nations and Japan at some length and four Third World nations more briefly. It does not attempt to create young scholars out of college sophomores. Rather, it sees comparative politics as an important but usually neglected grounding in citizenship that we should be making available to our young people. I agree with the late Morris Janowitz (in his 1983The Reconstruction of Patriotism: Education for Civic Consciousness) that civic education has declined in the United States and that this poses dangers for democracy. Our students are often ill-prepared in the historical, political, economic, geographical, and moral aspects of democracy, and to expose them to professional-level abstractions in political science ignores their civic education and offers material that is largely meaningless to them. An undergraduate is not a miniature graduate student. Accordingly, the eighth edition ofCountries and Conceptsincludes a good deal of fundamental vocabulary and concepts, buttressed by many examples. It is readable. Many students ignore assigned readings; with Countries and Concepts, they do not have the excuse that the reading is long or boring. Some reviewers have noted thatCountries and Conceptscontains values and criticisms. This is part of my purpose. The two go together; if you have no values, you have no basis from which to criticize. Value-free instruction is probably impossible. If successful, it would produce value-free students, and that, I think, should not be the aim of the educational enterprise. If one knows something with the head but not with the heart, one really does not know it at all. IsCountries and Conceptstoo critical? It treats politics as a series of ongoing quarrels for which no very good solutions can be found. It casts a skeptical eye on all political systems and all solutions proposed for political problems. As such, the book is not out to "get" any one country; it merely treats all with equal candor.

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