As introduced in Unit 1,comparative politics enables us to understand how and why nations change, how and why governments in a particular part of the world compare to governments in a different part of the world, and other patterns and regularities between political systems. Before we can begin our work as comparatists, however, we need to learn about the basic unit of comparative political study: the state (or nation-state). In Unit 2, we first examine the history and thinking behind the modern nation state through the contributions of Hobbes and Weber. We will then discuss how states developed in our modern world, challenges to state sovereignty, the psychology of the modern nation-state, and compare totalitarian and authoritarian forms of the state.
As you read through unit 2, reflect on the following questions. Why do we have or need the nation- state? How does the concept of sovereignty tie into the history and characteristics of the state? How has the nation-state evolved since its origin in 1648? Is there an optimum form of state rule? And finally, is the modern nation state static or evolving in its form and function?