Comparative Research. Comparative Research. General All research is comparative Terms of comparative social science Comparative Research Proper (Ragin) Goals/Advantages Characteristics Comparative Methods Method of Agreement (Mill) Method of Difference (Mill)
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What makes your case significant? By assigning your case study to one of these types, you are relating your case to the universe of other cases, your are setting it into context. Even though you might be doing a case study (n=1), you are “comparing” (going beyond that single case).
One characteristic of one case
representation of all relevant features/aspects of a case
Grouping of cases along one (and only one ) feature. Each case can be attributed to one class only.
Ex: Classification of voters according to their party preference: Labour voters, Con Voters, LibDem Voters
Grouping of cases along two or more aspects.
Real type – aspects that can be found together quite often empirically.
Ideal type (Max Weber) - one-sided accentuation of some logically connected characteristics. Real cases do not necessarily fit into these types.
Ex: Aristotle’s forms of government (number of people involved + normative judgement)
Lijphart’s types of democracy: Consensus v. Majoritarian Democracy
Note: neither of the four does offer an explanation of reality, they are meant to bring order/perspective to social life and to the (potentially) infinite number of possible observations
The comparative method (proper)
qualitative approach – commonality
quantitative approach – diversity with regard to one variable
Typical goal: “… unravel different causal conditions connected to different outcomes” (Ragin 1994: 108)
In order to find explanations for a certain phenomenon (dependent variable), we look at the most different cases which all share this particular feature
But should not be pursued to mechanistically
Need to be grounded in theoretical arguments