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Instructor-led course

Provided by: Social Sciences Research Methods Programme

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Comparative Historical Methods


These four sessions will introduce students to comparative historical research methods, emphasizing their qualitative dimensions. In the first session, we will analyze some contemporary classics within this genre. In the second and third sessions, we will review and distinguish among a variety of intellectual justifications for this genre as a methodology. In the final session, we will focus on a "state of the art" defence of qualitative and comparative-historical research, both in theory and practice.

Target audience
  • University Students from Tier 1 Departments
  • Further details regarding eligibility criteria are available here
Topics covered
  • Session 1: Classics
  • Session 2: Justifications I
  • Session 3: Justifications II
  • Session 4: State of the Art
  • To introduce students to the qualitative dimension of comparative historical research methods
  • To analyse some contemporary classics within this genre
  • To review and distinguish among the variety of intellectual justifications for this genre as a methodology
  • To focus on a 'state-of-the-art' defence of qualitative and comparative-historical research in theory and practice


S2: Justifications I

  • MacIntyre, M. (2001). β€œIs a science of comparative politics possible?” In Flyvberg, B. (2001). Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails, and How It Can Succeed Again. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Brady, H.& Collier, D. (eds). (2004). Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • George Lawson, A Global Historical Sociology of Revolution, in J. Go and G. Lawson, eds., Global Historical Sociology, pp.76-98.

S3:Justifications II

  • Pierson, P. (2004) Positive feedback and path dependence [AND] Institutional Development. In Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis. (pp.17-53, 133-166).Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Thelen, K. (2003) How institutions evolve: insights from comparative historical analysis. In Mahoney, J. & Rueschemeyer, D.Comparative-Historical Analysis: Innovations in Theory and Methods. (pp.208-240).
  • A. Przeworski, Is the Science of Comparative Politics Possible:
  • Ivan Ermakoff, "Causality and History: Modes of Causal Investigation in Historical Social Sciences," Annual Review of Sociology, 45:29.1-29.6, 2019.

S4: State of the Art

  • Dietrich Rueschemeyer, "Analytical Tools for Social and Political Research." In Usable Theory. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009: 1-26.
  • Mahoney, J. (2004) Comparative-historical methodology. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 30:81–101.
  • Mahoney, J.(2006). On the second wave of historical sociology, 1970s-Present. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 47(5):371-377.
  • Mahoney, J. (2007). Qualitative methods and comparative politics. Comparative Political Studies 40(2):122-144.
  • Mahoney, J. (2010) After KKV: the new methodology of qualitative research. World Politics 62(1):120-147.
  • J. Go and A. Lawson, Introduction: For a Global Historical Sociology, in J. Go and G. Lawson, eds., Global Historical Sociology, pp.1-34.
  • G. K. Bhambra, Comparative Historical Sociology and the State: Problems of Method, Cultural Sociology, 10(3): 335-351

This module is not assessed.

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