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Lijphart reading notes.doc

6 Pages

Political Science
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Dominique Arel

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Comparative Politics and the Comparative MethodArend Lijphart comparative politics carry a methodological label instead of a substantive label comparative politics indicates the how but does not specify the what of the analysis Giovanni Sartoris unconscious thinkers and overconscious thinkers unaware of and not guided by the logic and methods of empirical science although perhaps well versed in quantitative research techniques standards of method and theory are drawn from the physical paradigmatic sciences methodology of comparative political analysis does not really exist the comparative method is ONE of the basic methods of establishing general empirical propositions the other methods are the experimental statistical and case study not THE scientific method the comparative method is regarded as a method of discovering empirical relationships among variables not as a method of measurement the comparative method is a broadgauge general method not a narrow specialized technique may also be though of as a basic research strategy the comparative method along with the experimental and the statistical methods aim at scientific explanation which consists of two basic elements1 The establishment of general empirical relationships among two or more variables2 All other variables controlled that is held constant the experimental method in its simplest form uses two equivalent groups one of which the experimental group is exposed to a stimulus while the other the control group is not the two groups are then compared and any difference can be attributed to the stimulus the experimental method can rarely be used in political science because of practical and ethical impediments the statistical method entails the conceptual mathematical manipulation of empirically observed datawhich cannot be manipulated situationally as in experimental designin order to discover controlled relationships among variables it handles the problem of control by means of partial correlations can be regarded as an approximation of the experimental method the comparative method resembles the statistical method in all respects except one the number of cases it deals with is too small to permit systematic control by means of partial correlations there is no clear dividing line between the statistical and comparative methods the difference depends entirely on the numbers of cases the comparative method should be resorted to when the number of cases available for analysis is so small that crosstabulating them further in order to establish credible controls is not feasible the comparative method is not the equivalent of the experimental method but only a very imperfect substitute principal problems facing the comparative method
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