In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Comparative Politics of North America

  • Introduction
  • General Works
  • Reference Resources
  • Politics of the North American Region
  • The Environment
  • Mexican Politics in Comparative Perspective
  • Canada–US Comparison
  • Contentious Politics and Civil Society in North America

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Political Science Comparative Politics of North America
Miriam Smith
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 November 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0011


Comparative politics is a subfield of political science that compares the domestic politics of nation-states. In the current era of globalization, comparative politics often overlaps with the subfields of international relations or area studies (studies of a particular region of the globe). The comparative politics of North America, therefore, is the comparative study of the domestic politics of the three North American neighbors—the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It also extends to the politics of North America as a region, especially with respect to trade and economic links, immigration, the environment, and security. In addition, because Mexico is a developing country, while the United States and Canada are developed countries, comparative studies of domestic politics usually focus on US–Canada comparison, while the domestic politics of Mexico are often compared to other Latin American countries or considered as an element in Latin American area studies. The comparative politics of North America is a relatively new topic and has received greater interest since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993.

General Works

This section includes overviews of the subfield and methods of comparative and global politics, public policy, and regionalism. While North American politics is a relatively new field, these overviews provide essential background on how and why the domestic politics of countries should be compared and what can be learned from such comparisons. Works on regionalism, public policy, and global politics provide an introduction to classical approaches to these topics, within which the study of North America is situated within the discipline of political science. Issues of regionalism are covered in Farrell, et al. 2005 and Sbragia 2008, while Landman and Robinson 2009 and Kopstein and Lichbach 2009 look at the main themes of comparative politics. Boix and Stokes 2007 examines comparative politics in relation to global themes, while Turner 2010 provides an overview of globalization and antiglobalization movements. Peters and Pierre 2006 provides an overview of public policy issues.

  • Boix, Carles, and Susan Carol Stokes, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    This volume contains a useful article on how to compare politics across nation-states as well as an article on the overlap between comparative and global politics.

  • Farrell, Mary, Björn Hettne, and Luk Van Langenhove, eds. Global Politics of Regionalism: Theory and Practice. London, Pluto, 2005.

    Examines the main economic and political factors behind regional integration across the world, placing the North American experience in comparative perspective with other experiments in regional integration.

  • Kopstein, Jeffrey, and Mark Lichbach, eds. Comparative Politics: Interests, Identities, and Institutions in a Changing Global Order. 3d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    This is a classic text on the main themes of comparative politics, such as interests, identities, and institutions. Useful background for considering topics such as development and migration in regional context as well as the main theoretical approaches to explaining cross-national differences.

  • Landman, Todd, and Neil Robinson, eds. The SAGE Handbook of Comparative Politics. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2009.

    A recent overview of the subfield of comparative politics. Contains a useful article on comparative regionalism, which considers North American regionalism in context with other regional developments such as Europe and Southeast Asia. Includes overviews of the main theoretical approaches to comparative politics. Complements Kopstein and Lichbach 2009.

  • Peters, B. Guy, and Jon Pierre, eds. Handbook of Public Policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2006.

    An overview of the main areas of public policy, such as economic, social, environmental, and cultural policy. Includes policymaking and decision theory as well as main themes in public administration. Useful background for understanding specific policy issues in each North American country as well as substantive policy at the North American level (e.g., the environment).

  • Sbragia, Alberta. “Review Article: Comparative Regionalism: What Might It Be?” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 46 (2008): 29–49.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5965.2008.00809.x

    A review of the literature on regionalism, specifically focusing on how economists and political scientists interpret and define regionalism differently.

  • Turner, Bryan S., ed. The Routledge International Handbook of Globalization Studies. New York: Routledge, 2010.

    This edited collection contains overviews of globalization, US hegemony, and antiglobalization movements, which are useful theoretical backgrounds for understanding North American integration.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.