The Method Of Political Inquiry

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Lijphart introduced “conscious thinking" in comparative politics by focusing on comparison as a method of political inquiry” (682).Lijphart outlined four scientific methods. The first one being the experimental method and the three others are nonexperimental methods, which are statistical, comparative, and case study (Lijphart 682-683). He notes that case comparison is weak because of the well-documented methodological problems arising from "many variables, small N" (Lijphart 685) He then outlines four sub-types of the comparative method with the potential to minimize the effects of this methodological complication. He assesses these different approaches through two ways. First, how well they achieve the goal of testing theory through…show more content…
Lijphart therefore views the comparative method as suitable in research based on modest resources, and he suggests that studies using the comparative method might often serve as a first step toward statistical analysis. (Lijphart t685). Lijphart proposes solutions to both sides of the dilemma of many variables, small-N entailed in the comparative method. These four categories of comparative methods which can be used to minimize many variable and small cases N related problems in comparative methods are, 1) “Increase the number of cases as much as possible. In addition to extending the analysis geographically, one should also consider the possibilities of "longitudinal" (cross-historical) extension by including as many historical cases as possible” (686). Second, “reduce the "property-space" of the analysis. Third, “Focus the comparative analysis on "comparable" cases” (687). Fourth, “focus the comparative analysis on the "key" variables” (690). By doing this the problem of overwhelmed by large number of variables can be controlled. The two pieces of scholarship directly related to Lijphart’s article are “Debating the direction of comparative politics: An analysis of leading journals” by Gerarado L. Munck and Richard Snyder and “Debating the state of
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