Introduction: The Problem of Balancing Discourse On Cases and Variables In Comparative Social Science

Introduction: The Problem of Balancing Discourse On Cases and Variables In Comparative Social... Introduction: The Problem of Balancing Discourse On Cases and Variables In Comparative Social Science CHARLES C. RAGIN* GOOD COMPARATIVE SOCIAL science balances emphasis on cases and emphasis on variables. On the one hand, comparative social science is defined by the existence (or at least the presumption) of meaningful "cases." It is the perception that there are distinct and singular entities (major events or periods in countries, world regions, cultures, or other macrosocial units) that parallel each other in meaningful ways that motivates comparison (e.g., the emergence of environmental parties in advanced countries during a par- ticular period). Comparativists treat cases as whole entities purposefully selected, not as homogeneous observations drawn haphazardly from a large pool of equally plausible selections. And comparative analysis differs from many other types of analysis (e.g., statistical analysis of large Ns) because units are treated as meaningful wholes. On the other hand, one of the primary goals of comparative social science is to make general statements about relation- ships. Making general statements requires using concepts. At the level of cases, concepts are represented through observable variables. Even the state- ment that "case 2 is too different from case 1 with respect to attribute A http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Comparative Sociology (in 2002 continued as Comparative Sociology) Brill

Introduction: The Problem of Balancing Discourse On Cases and Variables In Comparative Social Science

International Journal of Comparative Sociology (in 2002 continued as Comparative Sociology), Volume 32 (1-2): 1 – Jan 1, 1991

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 1991 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0020-7152
eISSN
1745-2554
D.O.I.
10.1163/002071591X00014
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Introduction: The Problem of Balancing Discourse On Cases and Variables In Comparative Social Science CHARLES C. RAGIN* GOOD COMPARATIVE SOCIAL science balances emphasis on cases and emphasis on variables. On the one hand, comparative social science is defined by the existence (or at least the presumption) of meaningful "cases." It is the perception that there are distinct and singular entities (major events or periods in countries, world regions, cultures, or other macrosocial units) that parallel each other in meaningful ways that motivates comparison (e.g., the emergence of environmental parties in advanced countries during a par- ticular period). Comparativists treat cases as whole entities purposefully selected, not as homogeneous observations drawn haphazardly from a large pool of equally plausible selections. And comparative analysis differs from many other types of analysis (e.g., statistical analysis of large Ns) because units are treated as meaningful wholes. On the other hand, one of the primary goals of comparative social science is to make general statements about relation- ships. Making general statements requires using concepts. At the level of cases, concepts are represented through observable variables. Even the state- ment that "case 2 is too different from case 1 with respect to attribute A

Journal

International Journal of Comparative Sociology (in 2002 continued as Comparative Sociology)Brill

Published: Jan 1, 1991

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