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The Art and Craft of Comparison
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Book description

Is it possible to compare French presidential politics with village leadership in rural India? Most social scientists are united in thinking such unlikely juxtapositions are not feasible. Boswell, Corbett and Rhodes argue that they are possible. This book explains why and how. It is a call to arms for interpretivists to embrace creatively comparative work. As well as explaining, defending and illustrating the comparative interpretive approach, this book is also an engaging, hands-on guide to doing comparative interpretive research, with chapters covering design, fieldwork, analysis and writing. The advice in each revolves around 'rules of thumb', grounded in experience, and illustrated through stories and examples from the authors' research in different contexts around the world. Naturalist and humanist traditions have thus far dominated the field but this book presents a real alternative to these two orthodoxies which expands the horizons of comparative analysis in social science research.


‘Against those who would seek to either constrict or suppress the comparative intuition, Boswell, Corbett, and Rhodes make a brilliant case for an open and artful use of comparison in the social sciences. Comparing, they show, can be a creative act in which discovery, plausible conjecture, and unlikely juxtaposition figure prominently. A mind-opening perspective, colorfully presented, from which all social scientists can learn.'

Frederic Schaffer - University of Massachusetts, Amherst

‘… refreshingly honest, pragmatic and easy-to-follow, explaining how scholars within the broad interpretive tradition can adapt their research for comparative social science.'

Marc Geddes - European Consortium for Political Research

'This book sets out a powerful set of tools for undertaking systematic and analytically explicit qualitative inference. Fairfield and Charman provide a clear and accessible introduction to Bayesian principles and show how they can be applied to the kinds of questions and data with which qualitative social scientists routinely grapple. This volume represents an important step forward for the development and teaching of qualitative methods.'

Alan Jacobs - Professor of Political Science, University of British Columbia

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