Comparative Sociology and the Comparative Method CHARLES C. RAGIN Northwestern University, Evanston, U.S.A. Introduction "T HINKING WITHOUT comparison is unthinkable. And, in the absence of comparison, so is all scientific thought and scientific research." (Swanson 1971: 145). (See also Cassirer 1946: 25-6.) It is clear that the com- parative method in this broad sense constitutes the core of social scientific methodology. Even statistical techniques are based on aggregated comparisons of relevant cases. While virtually all social scientific methods are comparative in this broad sense, in sociology the term comparative method usually is used to refer to a specific kind of comparison, the comparison of whole societies. In fact, the comparative method traditionally has been treated as the method of comparative sociology, the branch of sociology concerned with cross-societal differences and similarities (Easthope 1974). Recently, however, several comparativists have argued that there is nothing fundamentally distinctive about either comparative sociology or the comparative method (see Grimshaw 1973: 18; Smelser 1976). Smelser (1976: 2-3), for example, claims that comparative social scientific inquiry is not a "species of inquiry independent from the remainder of social scientific inquiry" and that "the analysis of phenomena in evidently dissimilar units (especially different societies or
International Journal of Comparative Sociology (in 2002 continued as Comparative Sociology) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1981
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera