Many personal and scientific reasons are evoked in this volume to explain why researchers embark on the daunting and complex task of conducting comparisons across nations, societies and cultures. Comparativists are seeking to develop their own awareness and understanding by comparing the familiar with the unknown, advance knowledge by testing theory against practice, search for scientific explanations for observed phenomena, and learn from the exchange of information and experience. Increasingly, funding agencies require social and human science researchers to demonstrate the relevance of their findings for society and, by implication, for policy. Comparisons across time and space are called upon to produce evidence of the effectiveness of policies implemented in different spatiotemporal environments in response to similar socioeconomic trends, and to provide examples of good practice.
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