Comparative political scientists have always worked to develop methods to examine why countries develop and act in the way they do. These methods often times are similar to previous methods, but often times are different in their approach and reasoning. The trick is to develop a new and different approach to study. The grand theories of comparative politics are structural functionalism, modernization, dependency, and the NIC theory. These grand theories are causal arguments - they make specific arguments about what exactly is needed in order for a country to develop and progress. However, in recent years, there has been a movement toward the modern frameworks of analysis: cultural approaches, rational choice theory, ideological rationality, and the theory of perspective. These frameworks of analysis offer ways of examining countries and each theory offers elements, or factors, which are important to look at when studying countries. But do these new frameworks of analysis represent new ways of explaining a country's development and progression through a distinct break from past theories, or are these new frameworks of analysis just new ways of replicating the earlier grand theories and approaches? While the grand theories and frameworks of analysis both attempt to explain the development and progression of a country, they are indeed different from each other, and the new frameworks of development do represent a distinct break from the past grand theories.
Before we can begin to examine the differences between the old school grand theories and the new school of the frameworks of analysis it is important we have a good working knowledge of these methods of study. We must first define all of the grand theories and frameworks of analysis and briefly critique them individually in order to offer up some basis for comparison. The first of the grand theories of comparative politics is structural functionalism.