May 20, 2022

What We Are Learning This Week with Instructor Mark Machacek !

Exploring the practices, causes & consequences of contentious forms of politics
Freedom on Parliment Hill

May 23, 2022 in POLI 359 Introduction to Comparative Politics

Instructor Mark Machacek is exploring the practices, causes and consequences of contentious forms of politics, such as protesting, rioting and political violence.


Can you tell us a little more about this topic?

Contentious politics are disruptive actions taken outside of formal government institutions meant to impact government policy or politics more generally. Forms of contentious politics range from prolonged social movements, such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, to forms of political violence, such as riots and insurrections. In the course, we consider the 2022 Freedom Convoy in Ottawa from a comparative perspective, examining the reasons for the protest, the techniques used by the protestors and the response by the Canadian government. We similarly consider the 2021 attack on the US Capital Building in relation to forms of contentious politics.

Machacek headshot

What else do you cover in your course?

POLI 359 covers the main concepts, methodologies and theories of comparative politics with a focus on a number of important political institutions and current political issues. For example, in the course we compare government institutions—such as legislatures and executives—from around the world to determine their similarities and differences. We also explore explanations for why these similarities and differences exist. We consider the same questions comparing a number of other political issues across countries, such as the impact of ideology in politics, the practices of democratic and authoritarian regimes and the role of markets in society.

What do you love about teaching this course?

What I love teaching about this course is how it offers the opportunity to situate our own political system, issues and processes here in Canada in terms of our similarities and differences with other countries across the world. Students are able to gain a lot of perspective on Canadian politics when we compare it to both relatively similar countries, such as the United States, and considerably different countries, such as Russia or China.

Finally, what other courses would you recommend for students interested this topic?

Students interested in comparative politics can develop important methodological skills in POLI 397 Introduction to Research Methods and POLI 399 Qualitative Research Methods. The Political Science department also offers courses on specific topics from a comparative perspective, including INDG 407 Comparative International Indigenous Communities and POLI 371 Government & Politics of Africa.

Our Thanks to Instructor Mark Machacek for sharing your course with us

Follow Instructor Machacek on Twitter @MarkistPolitics