by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop

Chapter Nineteen: Comparative Methods

Chapter Notes

  • Case studies. The case for case studies. Multi-method approach. Thick description. Types of case study: representative, prototypical, deviant, exemplary, critical.
  • Pitfalls of comparison: varied meanings across cultures; globalization reduces the effective number of cases; too few countries for laboratory-style control; selection bias leads to over-study of particular countries (e.g. large ones) and variables e.g. economic ones).
  • Qualitative comparisons: small N studies as a success story. Selecting similar or contrasting cases. Most similar and most different designs.
  • Quantitative analysis. Dependent, intervening and intervening variables. A regression example. Outliers. Spurious correlation and the direction of causation.
  • Historical analysis: quarrying for cases. Analytic narratives. Path dependence and process tracing. Critical junctures, sequencing and slow-moving causes.

Figures and tables


Multiple choice questions


Essays and term papers

  1. What, in your view, can the comparative method contribute to the study of politics?
  2. Explore how different types of case study could be used in studying one of the following: electoral systems, constitutions, the political executive.

Hague & Harrop, 2013 edn, chs 1, 19.

B. Geddes, Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics
A. George and A. Bennett, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences
R. Goodin and H. Klingemann, A New Handbook of Political Science
H. Keman, Comparative Politics: New Directions in Theory and Method
G. King, R. Keohane and S. Verba, Designing Social Research
B. Guy Peters, Comparative Politics: Theory and Methods
B. Guy Peters, Institutional Theory in Political Science
R. Yin, Case Study Research: Design and Methods
R. Yin, The Case Study Anthology



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