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date: 24 March 2017

Comparative Political Regimes

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.

Ever since Aristotle, the comparative study of political regimes and their performance has relied on classifications and typologies. What has changed is merely the sophistication of these political sorting devices, their theoretical scope, and their empirical range. Moreover, the fusion of conceptual analysis with the comparative method has enabled comparative politics to establish itself as one of the subdisciplines in political science. An overview is provided that reviews the study of comparative political regimes through tracing some of the most influential typologies of (democratic) regimes. Particular attention is paid to the importance of deviant cases, such as Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Netherlands, for our understanding of the similarities and differences between democracies. A concern is that as the availability of governance indicators outpaces the development of comprehensive typologies of democracies, our ability to effectively compare contemporary political regimes and their performance becomes limited.