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Rethinking Comparison
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Book description

Qualitative comparative methods – and specifically controlled qualitative comparisons – are central to the study of politics. They are not the only kind of comparison, though, that can help us better understand political processes and outcomes. Yet there are few guides for how to conduct non-controlled comparative research. This volume brings together chapters from more than a dozen leading methods scholars from across the discipline of political science, including positivist and interpretivist scholars, qualitative methodologists, mixed-methods researchers, ethnographers, historians, and statisticians. Their work revolutionizes qualitative research design by diversifying the repertoire of comparative methods available to students of politics, offering readers clear suggestions for what kinds of comparisons might be possible, why they are useful, and how to execute them. By systematically thinking through how we engage in qualitative comparisons and the kinds of insights those comparisons produce, these collected essays create new possibilities to advance what we know about politics.

Reviews

'What a refreshing read this volume is. At a time when dominant ways of doing things are suddenly in question, this is a sophisticated wake-up call to the field of political science to study the world differently. The many rich contributions and Simmons' and Smith's masterful elucidation of them remind us that our purpose is to understand the world, not perpetuate the ways in which it is understood. Bravo to the editors and contributors for opening our eyes.'

Katherine Cramer - University of Wisconsin-Madison

'The world gives us almost as many ways to compare and reasons to compare as places to compare. Rethinking Comparison embraces and even expands the existing pluralism of comparative approaches in political science. Erica Simmons and Nicholas Rush Smith assemble a brilliant and eclectic cast of characters to think anew about all the things we can do – including some things we should consider doing very differently – when we compare.'

Dan Slater - University of Michigan

'This path-breaking volume shows scholars how to think and work 'outside the box' of Mill's logic of controlled comparison of nation-states, regions and organizations toward generative comparison of political processes, practices, meanings, and concepts. In chapter after chapter, the authors develop new conceptions of comparison that yield fundamental insights – new questions, concepts, categories, ways of viewing the world – not available under narrow conceptions of the comparative method.'

Elisabeth Jean Wood - Yale University

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