Mattei Dogan und Dominique Pelassy haben mit ihrem Buch “How to Compare Nations” einen Meilenstein der vergleichenden Politikwissenschaft und der vergleichenden Soziologie geschaffen. Darin beschreiben und begründen sie eine Methode, die es Forschern erlaubt, über den eigenen Tellerrand hinaus zu blicken und Einsichten aus dem Vergleich von gleichen oder unterschiedlichen Ländern zu gewinnen.
Ein zentraler Bestandteil dieses Vergleichs sind funktionale Äuqivalente:
“The notion of functional equivalence descends directly from the concept of ‘function’. They idea that a political system necessarily fulfills certain fundamental tasks helped functionalists move to an important stage. They have indeed emphasized with particular clarity, first, that different structures may perform the same function, and second , that the same structure may perform several different functions.
The search for functional equivalence passes through this analytical disassociation of roles and functions. The same performance may be accomplished in various countries by different organs; and similar or comparable institutions may fulfill, in various countries, different tasks. In some places a tribe can assume the function of political recruitment that a well-organized political party performs elsewhere, while what is labeled ‘party’ is only the nominal equivalent of what a party may represent elsewhere. Now, the organization of modern political parties does not impede other organs from contributing to the recruitment of political elites, as do, for example, unions in Great Britain or Catholic Action in Italy. The higher administration not only plays an executive function; it is well known that is also intervenes in the legislative process upstream, although in various degrees. This intervention is particularly important in France, Austria, Sweden, Norway; it is much less so in Belgium, Italy or the Netherlands” (37).