The role of comparison in political science is widely misunderstood, probably because of the entrenched use of the term ‘comparative politics’ to describe research into ‘foreign’ countries (in the United States, empirical political scientists work in either ‘American politics’ or ‘comparative politics’). Apart from the obvious paradox that a US scholar working on American politics thus becomes a comparativist once she crosses the Atlantic, this definition also misleadingly restricts the domain of comparative political analysis. In fact, comparison of some form is present wherever political scientists make claims about causality, whether they are studying one country, two countries, 192 countries, or indeed cases from some other unit of analysis. This chapter will present an introductory picture of the uses of the comparative method, describe its logic and some of its techniques, assess its strengths and limitations, and discuss the problems involved in designing comparative research.
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- The Comparative Method
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- Chapter 14