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Unit 1

1.1 The Practice of Political Scientists

5 min readโ€ขdecember 25, 2020

kelly-cotton

Kelly Cotton


AP Comparative Governmentย ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ

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Do you love data ๐Ÿค“? Then this is the unit for you!
For this topic, you'll need to understand how political scientists gather data ๐ŸŽฏ, and how they use that data to explain the behavior of individuals and groups in a society ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง More specifically, you will need to apply what you learn about being a comparative ๐Ÿง scientist to the course countries ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ
Let me take a second to remind you of the 6 course countries (UK ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง, Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ, Iran ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท, China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ, Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ, and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ) that AP Comparative Government will expect that you to:
  1. Be able to describe their structure, function, and political systems of the course countries.
  2. Be able to analyze data in the form of charts, graphs, real life examples from the course countries.
  3. Be able to compare the course countries and explain the reasons for similarities and differences between the course countries using provided data.

Topic 1.1 Terms

Success in this course relies heavily on knowing ๐Ÿง  your terms. Vocabulary ๐Ÿ“‡ is key in Comparative Government, because it will be used over the entire course. For that reason, we will always start have key ๐Ÿ”‘ vocabulary for every topic.
  • Empirical Dataโ€”Evidence gathered by observation ๐Ÿ”Ž or experimentation ๐Ÿงช, in other words, factual evidence.
  • Normative Dataโ€”Evidence that is conceptualized data ๐Ÿ“Š in other words, norms, or opinion based on data.
  • Quantitative Analysisโ€”A large number of cases that allows the researcher to analyze ๐Ÿง the data through the use of statistical ๐Ÿ“Š techniques. (Whew this is a lot to take in! An easier way to think of this would be quantity over quality.)
  • Qualitative Analysisโ€”A small number of cases, which is much more limited in terms of statistical evidence, but tends to be more thorough and detailed in terms of subjective analysis. This is a lot of words, so it's easier to remember quality over quantity.
  • Correlationโ€”Exists when there is an association between 2๏ธโƒฃ > variables.
  • Causationโ€”Relationship between cause and effect, in other words what is the cause of something. Extremely difficult to determine with certainty in comparative politics with so many variables that influence items like stability, influence, etc.
  • Human Development Index (HDI)โ€”An index created by the United Nations. Summarizes measures of average achievement in key dimensions in human development (like schooling ๐ŸŽ’, life expectancy ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿผ, and income ๐Ÿ’ฐ) If you want to explore the Human Development Index further here is a helpful link.
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)โ€”Market value of a goods and services produced. If you want to learn a lot more about GDP ๐Ÿค‘ and learn how to calculate GDP ๐Ÿ’ธ I recommend this website.

Topic 1.1 Essential Knowledge ๐Ÿง 

1๏ธโƒฃ identify types of data (see the definitions above).
2๏ธโƒฃ describe data presented to you. Let's go through an example of what you might need to do.

MCQ

In a research study, which of the following does a researcher seek to explain?
A. the concepts
B. the theory
C. the independent variable
D. the dependent variable
E. the reliability

Correct Answer (Don't peak ๐Ÿ‘€)

The correct answer is D. Let's look at why. The dependent variable is caused or influenced ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ by another variable and this is what political scientists ๐Ÿ”ฌ are doing looking at an issue and trying to look at what other variables are correlated ๐Ÿ“‰ or causing that variable.
Confused yet? Let me give you an example. A researcher hypothesis that high mortality rates (dependent variable) are a result of high poverty rates (Independent variable). In the research study they are looking for the impact of poverty on mortality rates and where there is a causal relationship (direct cause-poverty causes high mortality rate, or correlation, a change in poverty rates and a change in mortality rates exists but there is not enough evidence to prove direct relationship.

FRQ

Starting with the 2021 exam, you will have at least one 1๏ธโƒฃ free response question that is going to be a quantitative analysis ๐Ÿ“ˆ question. Let's look at a simple example from a previous exam:
This publicly released College Board FRQ Question (2019) is an excellent example of what you will need to do during your APยฎ Exam.
Let's break down each part of the question together and we can go through what the expectation is for you as a student, and how you should answer each part of question 8 from the 2019 AP Comparative Government Exam.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-0QiCcFAQfEXR.png?alt=media&token=570d74ee-cd7b-4b9a-b9d5-0b7a02e15301

To access the full question, click here.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-YebcJU4tzqjR.JPG?alt=media&token=5969c7b2-7188-4722-9b0c-98ca52586cce
  1. The population pyramids illustrate the age and sex structure of China's and Nigeria's populations.
    1. Using the population pyramids, describe one difference in the age structure of China compared to that of Nigeria.
      1. This takes us back to expectation 2: be able to analyze data in the form of charts, graphs, real life examples from the course countries. All you need to do to answer the question and earn the point is to explain a difference between the 2 countries using the provided data.
    2. Describe one governmental policy that influenced the age structure in China.
      1. This is where you have to know your course countries, this isn't going to come from the graphic organizer, but rather your understanding of policy in our course countries.
    3. Describe one economic consequence of the age structure of Nigeria.
      1. In this question, you need to use the data provided to you and make a claim based on the data and what you know about the course country.
    4. Describe one economic consequence of the age structure of China.
      1. You need to do the same thing of combining outside knowledge and using the question's given data for China. The College Board really wants to know if you know your course countries and their economic and political policy.
    5. Explain a political consequence of having a disproportionately younger population structure.
      1. In this case, you need to make a claim based on evidence and what you know about the course country in regards to a political consequence.

Sample Answers (Don't peak ๐Ÿ‘€)

  • (a) If you look at the graph, you could say Nigeria has a younger population than China OR China has an older population than Nigeria.
  • (b) China's one-child policy limited the number of children per family, thus limiting the younger population in the age structure.
  • (c) A strong answer here would be high unemployment in Nigeria as there is an overwhelming number of young people and not enough economic opportunities for all of them.
  • (d) Currently, there is a large work force and because of this, China can expect continued economic growth.
  • (e) In the case of Nigeria, you could say due to the large numbers of individuals under 18, a significant number of citizens cannot vote and therefore, may not have their interests represented by the government because they do not have a direct say in elections or policy making.

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