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POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics Essay Question #2 (Summer 2010)

General Instructions: Your response must be between 3~5 single-spaced pages. You must write AT LEAST 3 single-spaced pages, but NO MORE than 5 pages (suggested length: around 3.5~4.5 pages). See below for additional instructions. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FOLLOWING ALL INSTRUCTIONS LISTED HERE. Failure to do so may result in a substantial deduction. The Question Many observersjournalists, pundits, religious leaders, politicians, and even academicsargue that there is something uniquely regressive about Islamic culture. On the one hand, they point to the pervasive lack of democracy in the Islamic world, and assert that this must be because of an inherent conflict between Islamic values and the principles of individual rights, liberty, and democracy. On the hand, they point to these same Islamic values to explain the virulent spread of terrorism, not only in the Islamic World, but also in almost every other region of the world as well. As a comparativist who understands the importance of theory, method and evidence, you are extremely skeptical of such arguments and views. At the same time, it is (empirically) clear that there is some relationship between Islam and both the spread of terrorism and lack of democracy in the Islamic world. With this in mind, your main task is to write an essay that refutes the simplistic premise that Islamic culture is (1) necessarily antithetical to the principles of individual rights, liberty and democracy; and (2) inherently and permanently connected to terrorism. In so doing, you must integrate insights from all three research traditions (cultural, structural and rational) and you must support your argument with useful, relevant, and logically compelling comparisons and evidence. Additional Instructions. One of your main responsibilities in this essay is to demonstrate your mastery of the core theoretical and methodological principles of comparative politics. However, you should not spend much, if any time, merely summarizing or explaining these principles in your essay; instead, your primary focus should be on applying these principles in an insightful and accurate manner (see addendum for more instructions). Use only a 12-point font and standard margins (1 top and bottom, 1 left and right). Single-space your essay, and make sure you carefully proofread before turning in your paper. Papers with an excessive number of typographical errors or simple grammatical mistakes will be severely penalized. Do not use cover sheets, do not use plastic folders: simply staple your pages together in the top left hand corner. In the right hand corner, type your name, class/quarter and Take-home final See the example on the right -----------------------------------------------> Your essay must include a separate introduction and conclusion.
Joe Student POLS 373/Fall 09 Take-Home Final

DUE DATE: Beginning of the final exam period


Your main task The main requirement, to repeat, is first to answer the question being asked, and second, to write a response to that question as a comparativist, which means consciously and explicitly using the analytical and methodological concepts and tools weve discussed over the entire quarter. In this regard, one of your key responsibilities is to demonstrate that you not only understand, but that you can, most importantly, apply what weve been studying. To put it differently, for the purposes of this assignment, you must put yourself in the shoes of a researcher who believes strongly in the utility and importance of an integrative approach using insights from all three research traditions and who believes that comparative analysis is the best way to support an argument. You are not just writing as a comparativist, you are a comparativist. You should begin by answering the question: What factor or factors do you think are most important? Are these factors primarily economic, political, historical or cultural? Next, consider the relationship between or among various factors. If you think, for example, that cultural factors are key, you must nonetheless consider how culture interacts with politics, economics, and history to produce particular outcomes. Keep firmly in mind that your essay must be analytical and dispassionate. Your job, in other words, is not to condemn or justify the consequences of Islamic culture; instead, your job is to help us explain or understand its role. In addition, be advised that, while you obviously are required to draw from the book and lectures to answer the questions, your response must not be merely a recapitulation of what we have covered. As I noted above: DO NOT SUMMARIZE! (Do not, for example, write: A rationalist would say this , A structuralist would say this . Instead, provide a well considered, reasoned, and insightful response, one that clearly reflects your own thoughts. And, again, make sure you fulfill all the stated requirements! This last point is particularly important: often times a student may do a good job of addressing one requirement, but completely neglect other requirements. For example, the question topic requires you to provide an evaluation incorporating the three research traditions; if your response addressed only one or two of the three research traditions, you will not have met the basic requirements. If you response fails to use concrete comparisons to support your argument, you will have failed to meet the basic requirements. I WILL POST A MODEL RESPONSE ON MY COURSESITE LATER IN THE QUARTER. Please let me know if you have any questions. You may e-mail me your questions anytime ( However, if you wait until the last minute to ask a question (e.g., the night before the essay is due), do not expect a response. EVALUATON CRITERIA
In evaluating or grading your essay, I will use the following rubrics: 1. Comprehensiveness: Response included discussion of (a) both issues (terrorism and democracy), (b) all three theoretical perspectives, and (c) a comparative methodological component. Major deductions will be given for any missing element. 2. Evidence: You must provide concrete evidence to support your position. 3. Accuracy: Your discussion of the perspectives accurately reflects basic principles and concepts. 4. Coherence: Response is logical and consistent. 5. Empirical Support: Essay includes empirical support (evidence) for the key elements of your argument. 6. Writing: Response have miniumal numerbe writngi erros. well organized ; and folllws Fomating rquiments. [Response has minimal number of writing errors, is well organized, and follows the formatting requirements.] 7. Length Requirement: Essay meets but does not exceed length requirements. 8. Originality/Interpretation: Your response must clearly be based on your original thoughts and analysis in relation to the course material. Overall Score: Sum of scores from nos. 1-8 above