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POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics Comparative Strategies Lecture January 23, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim CSU Los Angeles

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Presentation on theme: "POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics Comparative Strategies Lecture January 23, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim CSU Los Angeles"— Presentation transcript:

1 POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics Comparative Strategies Lecture January 23, 2008 Professor Timothy C. Lim CSU Los Angeles

2 2 Strategies of Comparative Analysis Introduction Basic Strategies of Comparative Analysis  Case study  Binary or two-unit analysis  Multi-unit analysis (3 or more units)  Mixed design + +

3 3 Basic Strategies of Comparative Analysis Two Related Strategies …  Within-case comparison  Analytical induction Strategies of Comparative Analysis Introduction We’ll talk more about these later

4 4 The Case Study To put it in the simplest terms, a case study is in-depth examination of a single “case” Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study

5 5 What is a case? Three basic criteria 1. A specific issue or concern (e.g., terrorism, industrialization, revolution, a social movement) 2. A delimited geographic space (Japan, France, California, Moscow) 3. A certain period of time Concrete Examples:  Far-left terrorism in post-war Italy  Japanese industrialization between 1945 and 1975  The economic effects of NAFTA on Mexican immigration to the U.S. Strategies of Comparative Analysis What is a Case? Note: California and Moscow are not countries. Cases need not be defined as a “country”; technically, a case need not refer to a specific geographic space at all, but practically speaking, cases almost always involve a place.

6 6 What is a case? Three basic criteria Identify your own own case based on the specified criteria 1. Issue: 2. Space: 3. Time: Strategies of Comparative Analysis What is a Case? ? ? ? ? ? ?

7 7 Hmm … can I compare this apple to itself? The Case Study: A Question How is an in-depth study of a single “case” comparative? Strategies of Comparative Analysis What is a Case? Discus s

8 8 How To Do a Case Study  Not all case studies are comparative  To do a comparative case study, two basic “rules” must be followed: 1. See your case _____________________: This requires you to be familiar both with similar and dissimilar cases. 1. Aim at ________________: This means self-consciously fitting your case into the bigger theoretical picture. Warning: Neither of these steps is easy to do! Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study in relation to others generalization

9 9 Remember this maxim … Think comparatively, but deeply and systematically Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study More on next slide

10 10 Think comparatively If you are studying gun violence in America, think about the same phenomenon in other countries; think about differences/similarities among American cities, rural versus urban versus suburban, and so on Think deeply Don’t be satisfied with superficial comparisons; look very closely at selected cases; consider how your primary cases “fits into” the bigger picture Think systematically Don’t stop with a couple of simple or simplistic comparisons; develop and follow a well-thought out, coherent and logical research design Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study The “Case Study Maxim”

11 11 Limitations of the Case Study A single case study, while it may aim at generalization, can never hit the bull’s-eye Why not? Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study

12 12 Limitations of the Case Study Why can’t a case study in comparative perspective ever hit the “bull’s eye” of generalization? The answer? ______________________ small-n problem Small-n problem What’s a “small-n”? We’ll return to this question shortly … Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study

13 13 Limitations of the Case Study Despite its limitations, case studies can still serve an indispensable social scientific role … how so? Answer: As an empirical/theoretical stepping stone or building block Compararativists who follow this path use a strategy called ___________________ analytical induction Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study

14 14 Analytical Induction: A Few Words Induction (dictionary definition): the process of deriving general principles from particular facts or instances Analysis (dictionary definition): detailed examination of the elements or structure of something, typically as a basis for explanation Analytical induction, therefore, uses evidence and conclusions drawn from a detailed examination of individual cases as a way to strengthen and refine broader theories--explanations--about political, social or economic phenomena Each case study, in this view, serves as separate, but essential building block in the overall structure of a general theory Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Case Study

15 15 A Simple Lesson About Binary Comparisons All you really need to know (for now): binary or two-unit comparisons follow the logic of either the MSS or MDS design. Strategies of Comparative Analysis Binary or Two-Unit Comparisons Don’t confuse a binary comparison with a two or more case studies using analytical induction

16 16 Binary Comparisons: A Caveat  In a binary comparison, case selection is very important  The logic (mss or mds) of comparative design must be closely followed  Researcher must avoid selection bias  Researcher must not arbitrarily ignore or dismiss differences or similarities without justification Strategies of Comparative Analysis Binary or Two-Unit Comparisons What is selection bias? Selection bias refers to the tendency to choose only those cases that clearly illustrate or support the argument being made.

17 17 The Case Study and Binary Analysis: The “Small-N” Problem  Small-N Problem (a reprise): Remember, this refers to a situation in which the researcher only has a small number of relevant cases to analyze  In quantitative research, a small-n represents a serious, even fundamental problem because the small sample size, by itself, may yield biased or unreliable results Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Small-N Problem This graph shows that the smaller the sample size, the larger the “margin of sampling error” (MOSE)

18 18 Within Case Comparison What is a within-case comparison? Put simply, a within-case comparison is a comparison of the same unit, but with the added variables of “time” and “change” ? Strategies of Comparative Analysis Within Case Comparison

19 19 Example of a within- case comparison: South Korea, South Korea, An obvious and potentially significant change was the collapse of one political regime followed by the rise of a military authoritarian regime Equally important was the dramatic turnaround of the economy: from a stagnant, declining economy to a dynamic, high-speed growth economy Strategies of Comparative Analysis Within Case Comparison

20 20 Multi-Unit Comparisons (3+ Units or Cases): Basic Points  Logic of multi-unit comparison is the same as with binary comparison  More cases mitigates, but does not negate small-n problem  Case selection can be very difficult Strategies of Comparative Analysis Multi-Unit Comparison (3+ Units)

21 21 Multi-Unit Comparisons (3+ Units or Cases): A Trade-Off  “Bigger-N’s” are good, but too many cases requires a sacrifice in _________________  Taken too far, cases (countries, societies) become mere “data points”--that is, sets of statistics and numbers rather than real places with their own histories, cultures, institutions, and peoples depth Strategies of Comparative Analysis Multi-Unit Comparison (3+ Units)

22 22 Multi-Unit Comparisons (3+ Units or Cases) A Question If there are advantages to having more cases, but disadvantages to having too many, how many cases is optimum in comparative research? It depends It depends Strategies of Comparative Analysis Multi-Unit Comparison (3+ Units)

23 23 The Mixed Design  The mixed design involves a combination of several research design and strategies used simultaneously within the context of single research project  In principle, this is really the best type of comparative research strategy to adopt, for it allows the researcher to mitigate the limitation of using just a single strategy + ++ MSS MDS Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Mixed Design Example

24 24 Setting Up a Mixed Design  First: Specify your research question and objective  Second: Think comparatively; think of different types of relevant comparisons  Third: Do research (qualitative and quantitative); find data and evidence to identify possible cases  Fourth: Consider the data in relation to the basic principles (logic) and strategies of comparative analysis + ++ MSS MDS Strategies of Comparative Analysis The Mixed Design

25 25 Specify your research question and objective Let’s return to the issue of gun violence … In 2005, according the FBI, there were 11,346 gun-related homicides* in the United States (in total, there were 16,692 homicides) Consider the various research questions you could develop from this statistic … Consider your research objective … Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design: An Example *Homicide as defined here includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter which is the willful killing of one human being by another.

26 26 Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design: An Example Think comparatively Start, for example, with international statistics on gun homicide rates. Here’s a table of selected countries Country Gun homicide rate Country Gun homicide rate South Africa74.57Japan*00.50 Thailand33.00Germany00.46 Paraguay07.35Finland00.43 Zimbabwe04.74Australia00.31 Mexico03.66Cyprus00.27* U.S.A.03.60Denmark00.26 Lithuania02.24Spain00.25 Latvia01.26New Zealand00.18 Canada00.54Singapore00.02 All figures for 2000 or 1999 * Total homicide rate Source: UNOD UNOD

27 27 Think Comparatively: More Comparisons Remember, thinking comparatively is not limited to whole countries. You can also think comparatively about cities or other sub-national units … consider the statistics on international rates of homicide in selected cities Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design

28 28 Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design Do more research (qualitative and quantitative); find data and evidence to identify possible cases Consider, for instance, the long-term trend of homicides in the United States. From the data in the table, what type of qualitative research would it make sense to do? For example, what would we need to look at to find out why, after four decades of increasing homicides, there was a significant drop from 1990 to 2000?

29 29 Do more research Here are a few more tables of potentially useful data: Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design

30 30 Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design Consider the data in relation to the basic principles (logic) and strategies of comparative analysis What countries would you compare and why? What logic would you use and why? Would it make sense to compare sub-national units? Which ones? How many? What concrete strategies of comparison would you use and why? In choosing a strategy, what would your specific and broader goals be? Questions Doing comparative analysis requires you ask and answer such questions

31 31 Key Points to Remember  A good comparative design--mixed or otherwise--requires you to think comparatively and to do research. Lots of it.  A less obvious point: Quantitative data, while important, is usually not enough for a comparativist  Thus, once appropriate cases are selected, in-depth, qualitative analysis is often necessary Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design

32 32 Mixed Design Strategy Based on our (very limited) research, what combination of research principles (logic) and strategies can we use for our “mixed design”? What would be a good case study? What would be a good binary comparison? Is there an appropriate multi-unit comparison? Is there a strong within-case or sub-national comparison? + ++ MSS MDS What comparative logics would you use? Strategies of Comparative Analysis Setting Up a Mixed Design


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