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This Is Not a Turn: Canadian Political Science and Social Mechanisms

  • Mireille Paquet (a1) and Jörg Broschek (a2)
Abstract

Mechanism-based explanations are gaining in popularity in the social sciences. Canadian political science has somewhat embraced these debates. Recent work has explicitly identified with mechanismic explanation and, at the same time, there is a point to be made about the compatibility of CPS's cannons with a mechanism-based understanding of causation. In this paper, we survey past and recent work aligned with this ontological approach. We demonstrate a heterogeneous engagement with the methodological literature regarding mechanisms and different understandings as well as uses of mechanisms in political analysis. This survey allows us to argue for the potential of mechanism-based explanations for CPS while also forcing us to advocate for a sober and discerning use of this approach.

Les explications basées sur les mécanismes gagnent en popularité dans les sciences sociales. La science politique canadienne, toutes langues confondues, ne fait pas exception à cette tendance. Plusieurs recherches récentes ont explicitement mobilisé une ontologie mécanistique afin d'expliquer des phénomènes politiques. Nous proposons que cela soit en partie aligné avec des travaux classiques en science politique canadienne, qui s'arrimaient implicitement avec cette conception de la causalité. Dans cet article, nous résumons les travaux passés et récents alignés avec cette approche ontologique. À l'heure actuelle, les apports canadiens utilisant les mécanismes sont caractérisés par un engagement hétérogène avec la littérature méthodologique, par des définitions différentes des mécanismes et par des utilisations variées des mécanismes sociaux dans la construction de théories. Nous concluons en soutenant le potentiel de l'approche par mécanismes pour la science politique canadienne, à condition que les chercheurs l'utilisent de façon sobre et précise.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Department of Political Science, Concordia University, 1455 Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, H3 G 1M8, email: Mireille.paquet@concordia.ca
Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5, email: jbroschek@wlu.ca
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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