Practice Questions for Spring 2014 IDV Comprehensive Exam

Political Development Major—6 Hours

Part 1—answer the following question.

Mancur Olsen, Robert, Putnam, Edward Banfield, Joel Migdal, Ronald Inglehardt and others explore the theme of social influence on politics and political development.  What is the common thread in this literature and how does it explain the institutional and political outcomes we see in three nations of your choice. Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

Part 2—answer two of the three questions.

1) In light of the events associated with the "Arab Awakening" of 2010-12, what would you identify as the most significant costs and benefits of democratization from the perspectives of the two Muslim majority states of your choice?  Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

2) What would you identify as the most significant impediments to political development in the contexts of the two nation- and/or state-building projects of your choice since the end of the Cold War?  Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

3) What would you identify as the most significant similarities and differences between liberal democracy and illiberal democracy?  Please explain why and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples.

 

Social Cultural Minor—4 hours

Part 1-- Answer one of the two questions.

1) How would you assess the utility of the late Samuel P. Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis in explaining the relationship between the United States and the two developing world states of your choice over the past decade?  Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

2) How would you define the term "identity"?  To what extent do you think the development of identity is similar and dissimilar at the individual, communal and national levels.  Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

 

Part 2--Answer one of the two questions.

1) What would you identify as the most significant methodological impediments to measuring the effects of cultural factors on the behavior of states in the international system?  How would you mitigate the effects of those impediments in researching the topic of your choice?  Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

2) How effectively do you think American civilian and military actors have responded to cultural challenges associated with the planning and implementation of the two nation- and/or state-building projects of your choice since the end of the Cold War?  Please explain why and support your responses with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples. 

 

Security Studies Major—6 hours to complete

Part 1—answer the following question:

1)  For some International Relations theorists, the behavior of states is determined primarily by their internal characteristics. By contrast, other theorists argue that state behavior is shaped primarily by their position in the international system, and especially by their relative power. Which view do you think is most accurate? Use real world contemporary or historical examples in making your argument, in addition to citing relevant literature throughout.


Part 2—answer two of the three following questions:

1) You are writing a pamphlet on the theory and practice of terrorism.  In your pamphlet you need to make reference to the major theorists of terrorism/insurgency and how you would thwart counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist strategies.  In sum, present your theory of terrorism or insurgency, what is its theoretical pedigree, its goals, its strategy and tactics.  Anticipate counter terrorism/insurgency strategies to your theory and defend your theory.  Use real world contemporary or historical examples in making your argument, in addition to citing relevant literature throughout. You could be the next Che !

2) You are expected to teach an upper-level undergraduate course on international relations theory. How would you organize the course and which books/articles would you assign as required reading? In other words, what would be the underlying theoretical assumptions upon which the course would be based; what would be the major topics covered in the course; why would they be included; and how would they be related to one another? Of the scores of relevant publications that you might assign for student reading, which would you select – and why?

3)  Explore the causes of Civil War/Ethnic Conflict; what are the major determinants; what are the differences and how do you assess the Greed versus Grievance debate. Relate your answer to major works in the field. Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and detailed examples.

 

Security Studies Minor—4 hours to complete.

Part 1—Answer one of the following questions:

1)  For some International Relations theorists, the behavior of states is determined primarily by their internal characteristics. By contrast, other theorists argue that state behavior is shaped primarily by their position in the international system, and especially by their relative power. Which view do you think is most accurate? Use real world contemporary or historical examples in making your argument, in addition to citing relevant literature throughout.

2) You are writing a pamphlet on the theory and practice of terrorism.  In your pamphlet you need to make reference to the major theorists of terrorism/insurgency and how you would thwart counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist strategies.  In sum, present your theory of terrorism or insurgency, what is its theoretical pedigree, its goals, its strategy and tactics.  Anticipate counter terrorism/insurgency strategies to your theory and defend your theory.  Use real world contemporary or historical examples in making your argument, in addition to citing relevant literature throughout. You could be the next Che !

Part 2—Answer one of the following questions:

1) You are expected to teach an upper-level undergraduate course on international relations theory. How would you organize the course and which books/articles would you assign as required reading? In other words, what would be the underlying theoretical assumptions upon which the course would be based; what would be the major topics covered in the course; why would they be included; and how would they be related to one another? Of the scores of relevant publications that you might assign for student reading, which would you select – and why?

2)  Explore the causes of Civil War/Ethnic Conflict; what are the major determinants; what are the differences and how do you assess the Greed versus Grievance debate. Relate your answer to major works in the field. Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and detailed examples.

 

Political Development Major—6 hours to complete

Part 1—answer the following question:

1) Samuel Huntington writes in Political Order and Changing Societies that, “The most important political distinction among countries, concerns not their form of government but their degree of government.”  What is Huntington saying about authoritarian rule and democracy?  To account for authoritarian and democratic rule, do you think structural factors (such as socioeconomic development levels or the “resource curse”);  cultural factors (such as religion) or institutional factors (social/government institutions) are more important? Please explain and support your answer, for each part of the question, with clear reference to Huntington and the related literature, provide examples.

Part 2—answer two of the three following questions:

1) Why are there so few democracies in the Middle East? Is this a coincidence, or is there a region-wide pattern with causal reasons behind it? Or should we wait a while longer before passing judgment? Relate your answer to major works in the  field. Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and detailed practical examples.

2) In the contemporary world, authoritarian rule and democracy tend to cluster more in some regions than in others. To account for this regional concentration of authoritarian and democratic rule, do you think structural factors (such as socioeconomic development levels or the “resource curse”) or cultural factors (such as religion) are more important? Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and examples.

3) Joel Migdal, in Strong Societies and Weak States, argues that there is no “corruption‟ in political societies, only different rules. Is his argument tenable? Use specific cases, if you wish, to illustrate your points. Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and detailed practical examples

 

Political Development Minor—4 hours to complete.

Part 1—Answer one of the following questions:

1) Samuel Huntington writes in Political Order and Changing Societies that, “The most important political distinction among countries, concerns not their form of government but their degree of government.”  What is Huntington saying about authoritarian rule and democracy?  To account for authoritarian and democratic rule, do you think structural factors (such as socioeconomic development levels or the “resource curse”);  cultural factors (such as religion) or institutional factors (social/government institutions) are more important? Please explain and support your answer, for each part of the question, with clear reference to Huntington and the related literature, provide examples.

2) Why are there so few democracies in the Middle East? Is this a coincidence, or is there a region-wide pattern with causal reasons behind it? Or should we wait a while longer before passing judgment? Relate your answer to major works in the  field. Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and detailed practical examples.

Part 2—Answer one of the following questions:

1) In the contemporary world, authoritarian rule and democracy tend to cluster more in some regions than in others. To account for this regional concentration of authoritarian and democratic rule, do you think structural factors (such as socioeconomic development levels or the “resource curse”) or cultural factors (such as religion) are more important? Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and examples.

2) Joel Migdal, in Strong Societies and Weak States, argues that there is no “corruption‟ in political societies, only different rules. Is his argument tenable? Use specific cases, if you wish, to illustrate your points. Please explain and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and detailed practical example.

  

Social/Cultural development Major—6 hours to complete

Part 1—answer the following question:

1) Define "culture" and "cultural development" using a variety of academic sources. What commonalities and dis-commonalities exist within these definitions? What is the difference, if any, in the definition of these two different terms? Why are these terms different, if they are, and what are the distinguishing characteristics that make them different, if they are indeed different?

 

Part 2—answer two of the three following questions:

1) In Culture Matters (2000) Harrison and Huntington highlight an issue linking between values and culture. Specifically they state, “Skepticism about the link between cultural values and human progress is found particularly in two disciplines: economics and anthropology. For many economist, it was axiomatic that appropriate economic policy effectively implemented will produce the same results without reference to culture” (p. xxiv).
 
Does this statement accurately reflect the assumptions with economics (economic development) related to culture? If yes, do you support or refute this statement? If no, what does this statement miss in the literature regarding the understood links between culture and economic development? Define terms and give examples as necessary.
 
2) According to Jerry Moore (2012), in his book Visions of Culture, he states that Anthropology as a discipline addresses a series of questions. “What is the nature of society? Why do cultures change? What is the relationship between the person as an individual and the person as a member of a distinctive social group? What are the distinguishing characteristics of humanness? Why are cultures different” (p. 1)?
 
Which of these questions, if any, are related to social/cultural development? Specify which are related to development, which are not, and why. Define terms and give examples as necessary.

3) What methodological approach(es) would you choose to determine the extent to which religion drives the domestic and foreign policies of Muslim majority states on one hand and Christian majority states on the other?  Please explain why and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples.

Social/Cultural Minor—4 hours to complete.

Part 1—Answer one of the following questions:

1) In Culture Matters (2000) Harrison and Huntington highlight an issue linking between values and culture. Specifically they state, “Skepticism about the link between cultural values and human progress is found particularly in two disciplines: economics and anthropology. For many economist, it was axiomatic that appropriate economic policy effectively implemented will produce the same results without reference to culture” (p. xxiv).
 
Does this statement accurately reflect the assumptions with economics (economic development) related to culture? If yes, do you support or refute this statement? If no, what does this statement miss in the literature regarding the understood links between culture and economic development? Define terms and give examples as necessary.
 
2) According to Jerry Moore (2012), in his book Visions of Culture, he states that Anthropology as a discipline addresses a series of questions. “What is the nature of society? Why do cultures change? What is the relationship between the person as an individual and the person as a member of a distinctive social group? What are the distinguishing characteristics of humanness? Why are cultures different” (p. 1)?
 
Which of these questions, if any, are related to social/cultural development? Specify which are related to development, which are not, and why. Define terms and give examples as necessary.

Part 2—Answer one of the following questions:

1) Define "culture" and "cultural development" using a variety of academic sources. What commonalities and dis-commonalities exist within these definitions? What is the difference, if any, in the definition of these two different terms? Why are these terms different, if they are, and what are the distinguishing characteristics that make them different, if they are indeed different?

2) What methodological approach(es) would you choose to determine the extent to which religion drives the domestic and foreign policies of Muslim majority states on one hand and Christian majority states on the other?  Please explain why and support your answer with clear references to the relevant literature and the provision of detailed practical examples.