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1 CH 11: Looking at the Past and Across Cultures pp. 293-312.

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Presentation on theme: "1 CH 11: Looking at the Past and Across Cultures pp. 293-312."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 CH 11: Looking at the Past and Across Cultures pp

2 2 WHAT IS HISTORICAL- COMPARATIVE RESEARCH (HCR)? HCR places historical time and/or cross- cultural variation at the center of analysis HCR places historical time and/or cross- cultural variation at the center of analysis HCR looks at how a specific mix of diverse factors come together in time and place to produce a specific outcome (e.g., war, social movement, migration, etc.) HCR looks at how a specific mix of diverse factors come together in time and place to produce a specific outcome (e.g., war, social movement, migration, etc.) HCR makes “big” comparisons, of units like nation-states, societies, cultures, to see how they are similar and different HCR makes “big” comparisons, of units like nation-states, societies, cultures, to see how they are similar and different HCR examines the same social process across several cultural or historical settings HCR examines the same social process across several cultural or historical settings

3 3 What research questions are suitable for HCR? Research questions that involve change over time and/or two or more sociocultural contexts Research questions that involve change over time and/or two or more sociocultural contexts When the goal is to understand/explain macro-level events When the goal is to understand/explain macro-level events e.g., a terrorist attack, a nation going to war, sources of racism, large-scale immigration, religious conflict, urban decay, etc.e.g., a terrorist attack, a nation going to war, sources of racism, large-scale immigration, religious conflict, urban decay, etc.  Do people who immigrate form attachments to their new country or stay connected across international borders?  Others?

4 4 H-C research uses a blend of research techniques traditional history, field research, interviews, content analysis, existing statistics traditional history, field research, interviews, content analysis, existing statistics

5 5 H-C Research is similar to Field Research 1) They incorporate individual researcher’s point of view as part of the research process 2) They examine a great diversity of data types (diaries, maps, official statistics, newspapers, novels) 3) They focus on processes, time passage, and sequence 4) They use grounded theory 5) They make limited generalizations

6 6 What is Unique about HCR? 1) Builds on Limited and Indirect Evidence 2) Interprets the Meaning of Events in Context 3) Integrates the Micro and Macro Levels 4) Uses Specific and Transcultural, Transhistorical Concepts

7 7 Interpreting meaning of events in context requires: Supracontext awareness Supracontext awareness Coherence imposition Coherence imposition Capacity overestimation Capacity overestimation

8 8 HOW TO DO A HCR RESEARCH STUDY Acquire the necessary background Acquire the necessary background Conceptualize the issue Conceptualize the issue Locate and evaluate the evidence Locate and evaluate the evidence Organize the evidence Organize the evidence Synthesize and develop concepts Synthesize and develop concepts Write the report Write the report

9 9 RESEARCHING THE PAST Historians: See collection of historical evidence as central goal in itself See collection of historical evidence as central goal in itself Interpret data in light of other historical events Interpret data in light of other historical events Are not overly concerned about developing theory Are not overly concerned about developing theory Social researchers: See collection of historical evidence as secondary See collection of historical evidence as secondary Want to extend or build theory or apply social concepts to new situations Want to extend or build theory or apply social concepts to new situations Use historical evidence as a means to an end – to explain/understand social relations Use historical evidence as a means to an end – to explain/understand social relations Historians and social researchers study the past in different ways

10 10 Types of Historical Evidence Primary sources Primary sources Running records Running records Recollections Recollections Secondary sources Secondary sources

11 11 Primary sources and their limitations primary sources: sources created in the past and that survived to the present primary sources: sources created in the past and that survived to the present presentism: the fallacy of looking at past events from the point of view of today and failing to adjust for a very different contextpresentism: the fallacy of looking at past events from the point of view of today and failing to adjust for a very different context : as applied in comparative research, the fallacy of looking at the behaviors, customs, and practices of people in other cultures narrowly from your culture’s point of viewethnocentrism: as applied in comparative research, the fallacy of looking at the behaviors, customs, and practices of people in other cultures narrowly from your culture’s point of view

12 12 Evaluating primary sources After locating documents, you must evaluate them with external and internal criticism After locating documents, you must evaluate them with external and internal criticism external criticism: evaluating the authenticity of primary source materialsexternal criticism: evaluating the authenticity of primary source materials internal criticism: evaluating the credibility of information in primary source materialsinternal criticism: evaluating the credibility of information in primary source materials

13 13 Running records and their limitations Running records: ongoing files or statistical documents that an organization such as a school, business, hospital, or government agency maintains over time Running records: ongoing files or statistical documents that an organization such as a school, business, hospital, or government agency maintains over time Limitations: Limitations: 1) organizations do not always maintain them 2) organizations do not record information consistently over time

14 14 Recollections and their limitations recollections: a person’s words or writings about past experiences created by the person some time after the experiences took place recollections: a person’s words or writings about past experiences created by the person some time after the experiences took place oral history: interviews with a person about his or her life and experiences in the pastoral history: interviews with a person about his or her life and experiences in the past Limitation: because memory is imperfect, recollections and oral histories can be distorted pictures of the past in ways primary sources are not Limitation: because memory is imperfect, recollections and oral histories can be distorted pictures of the past in ways primary sources are not

15 15 Secondary sources and their limitations secondary sources: specific studies conducted by specialist historians who may have spent many years studying a narrow topic. Other researchers use these secondary data as sources. secondary sources: specific studies conducted by specialist historians who may have spent many years studying a narrow topic. Other researchers use these secondary data as sources. Limitations: Limitations: Holes or gaps in the historical record and few studies on your topicHoles or gaps in the historical record and few studies on your topic Inaccurate historical accountsInaccurate historical accounts Biased interpretationsBiased interpretations

16 16 RESEARCH THAT COMPARES ACROSS CULTURES Comparative research is as much an orientation as a separate research technique Comparative research is as much an orientation as a separate research technique The comparative orientation improves measurement and conceptualization The comparative orientation improves measurement and conceptualization Comparative research is more difficult, costly, and time consuming than other research Comparative research is more difficult, costly, and time consuming than other research

17 17 Galton’s Problem Galton’s problem: a possible mistake when comparing variables/features of units of analysis, in which an association among variables or features of two units may be due to them both actually being part of one large unit. Galton’s problem: a possible mistake when comparing variables/features of units of analysis, in which an association among variables or features of two units may be due to them both actually being part of one large unit.

18 18 Types of Comparative Data Comparative field research Comparative field research Existing qualitative data Existing qualitative data Cross-national survey research Cross-national survey research Existing cross-national quantitative data Existing cross-national quantitative data


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