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Term 1 Week 2

Comparative analysis and case selection

Contrary to everyday practice, where most people are often implicitly comparing situations, in social sciences the issue of what and how to observe reality is explicitly part of any comparative analysis. Comparative analysis holds a central place in political science research. Some people equate qualitative methods with case study analysis, but nothing inherent in comparison determines the number of cases, nor how we analyze those cases. For starters, we need to ask what we seek to achieve through comparison, what it is that we will compare, and how many cases we should select. But: what is a case? And what is “it” a case of? These are central questions for most qualitative and mixed-methods projects. In this session we will get to know different comparative case study designs and discuss the rules and consequences of case selection.

Methodological readings Applied readings
  • [1] Della Porta, D. (2008) Comparative Analysis: Case-oriented versus variable-oriented research, in: D. della Porta and M. Keating (eds.) Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences: A Pluralist Perspective. Cambridge UP, Ch. 11 (pp. 199-222).
  • [2] Klotz, A. (2008) Case Selection, in: A. Klotz, and D. Prakash (eds.) Qualitative Methods in International Relations. A Pluralist Guide. Palgrave Macmillan, Ch. 4 (pp. 43-58).

[1] [2] Book available as e-book through library. Simply copy-paste the title of the book into the article search function of the 'encore'-platform.

  • [1] Kern, H. and J. Hainmueller (2009) Opium for the Masses: How Foreign Media can Stabilize Authoritarian Regimes. Political Analysis 17(4): 377–399.
  • [2] Loveless, M. (2009) The Theory of International Media Diffusion: Political Socialization and International Media in Transitional Democracies, Studies in Comparative International Development 44: 118-136.

[1] [2] Journal available as e-journal through library. Simply copy-paste the title of the article into the article search function of the 'encore'-platform.

Recommended readings 

  • [1] Geddes, B. (1990) How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics, Political Analysis 2(1): 131-150.
  • [2] DeFelice, G. (1986) Causal Inference and Comparative Methods, Comparative Political Studies 19(3): 415-437.

[1] Journal available as e-journal through library. Simply copy-paste the title of the article into the article search function of the 'encore'-platform.

[2] Journal available as e-journal through library. Copy-paste the title of the journal into the article search function of the 'encore'-platform, look for the right year, then issue, then article.