Comparative Politics

HowAustraliaCompares(with Ross Gittins) How Australia Compares (2nd ed., Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 2009, 267 pages)
(with Ross Gittins) How Australia Compares (Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 282 pages)

I was always interested in comparative research, partly because of the old dictum that comparison is the social scientist’s closest approximation to the physical scientist’s experiment.  That interest was sharpened by spending two years teaching Australian Studies in Japan, seeking to put Australian politics and society into a comparative context, especially to present the subject-matter in a way that the commonalities and contrasts with Japan become clearer.  This also fed into my teaching at Sydney, and into a course titled Comparative Democratic Politics.


Eventually this crystallised into the book, which Ross Gittins and I co-authored How Australia Compares.  It systematically compares Australia with 17 other advanced democracies on as many aspects as possible – from taxation to traffic accidents, from homicide rates to health expenditure, and interest rates to internet usage.  Wherever possible it charts trends over decades.

The book had two editions.  The 2009 edition not only had updated data, but also offered several tables of global comparisons in addition to the 18 democracies.  It also has a concluding essay, the Howard Impact, examining trends over the 11 years of the Howard Government.

RoutledgeHandbook‘How Russia Compares’ in Graeme Gill and James Young (eds) Handbook of Russian Studies (London, Routledge, 2011)

A range of key statistics on Russia, countries in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  Dramatic contrasts eg decline in life expectancy and population decline due to emigration in some countries.

‘Towards a Comparative Analysis of Australian Media’ Unpublished paper, presented to the Communications and Policy Research Forum, Sydney, November 2009

Towards a Comparative Study of Australian Media

South Africa

  • In 1994, for almost two months, I worked with the Media Monitoring Project in the lead-up to South Africa’s first democratic election, which resulted in Nelson Mandela becoming president.  In the following years I returned several times for brief visits, gathering material to write about the role of media in democratization.  Unfortunately I have not yet been able to bring all this into a strong conclusion, but hope it is an area I may return to in the future.

‘Mandela and the Politics of Moral Capital’ Review Essay on John Kane The Politics of Moral Capital The Drawing Board October, 2002

‘South Africa’s Second Election’ AQ July-August 1999

‘Domesticating Mandela’ Australian Review of Public Affairs December 2013

Southeast Asia

(Co-editor with Herbert Feith) Rex Mortimer Stubborn Survivors. Dissenting Essays on Peasants and Third World Development (Monash Papers on Southeast Asia, No 10, Monash University Centre for Southeast Asia, 1984) (179 pp)

  • When my former colleague Rex Mortimer died at the end of 1979, it was suggested that Herb Feith and I edit a collection of his writings. Herb, now sadly also dead, was one of the world’s leading Indonesian scholars and very close to Rex. My role in this book was very subsidiary, but I am proud to be associated with two such great scholars.

East Asia

(with Ki-Sung Kwak) ‘Cable Television and Democratization in Taiwan and South Korea’ in Journalism and Democracy in Asia, ed. Angela Romano and Michael Bromley (London, Routledge, 2005)

Australia and China

TheHarmonyofCivilizations‘Australian Attitudes to China’s Global Role – The Politics of Changing Expectations’ China International Strategy Review, 2011, p.135-144 (Published paper from Beijing Forum conference, November 2010)

Australian Attitudes to China’s Global Role – The Politics of Changing Expectations