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Department of Comparative Politics

Comparative politics as political science

Comparative politics should be understood as an element in the more general discipline of political science.

At most universities in the Western hemisphere, comparative politics is an integrated part of the more general discipline of political science (studies of government, Staatswissenschaft, Politologie, études politiques, statskundskab, statsvetenskap, etc.).

At the Department of comparative politics, the comparative dimension is strongly emphasised, and the courses offered in Bergen provide a much more far-reaching, systematic knowledge of differences and similarities between political systems than is the case for the other main political science (Staatswissenschaft) departments at other universities in the Nordic area.

The founder of the department, professor Stein Rokkan, initially put a lot of emphasis on increasing the knowledge on political systems in (Western) Europe, claiming that region-specific comparisons within culturally distinct areas of the world was a necessary step towards more universal (or global) models of political development and modernisation.

The department, following the premature death of Rokkan, has in different ways continued to elaborate his ideas and visions for the development of the discipline. Members of staff have studied political conditions in Latin America, South-East Asia, South Africa and China, often applying parts of Rokkan's theoretical framework, which was originally developed in empirical interaction with a Western European context. Following the dramatic shifts in Central and Eastern Europe, the department has continued to widen its horizon, extending the network to include researchers from this part of Europe as well. In the coming years the Department will work to enhance research and educational competences on Western, Central and Eastern Europe as well as the former Soviet Union, and particularly, on the United States.