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Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2007

Sheri Berman
Barnard College


Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. By Alexander L. George and Andrew Bennett. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. 331p. $50.00 cloth, $20.00 paper.

In recent years, there has been a surge in work on what has come to be known as “qualitative methods.” The trend is essentially reactive, developing as a response to the outpouring of work on quantitative and formal methods and the assertions by scholars in those areas that case studies and historical work are impressionistic, unscientific, and noncumulative. To counter such claims, some of the field's most distinguished qualitative scholars (e.g., Stephan Van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science, 1997; James Mahoney and Dietrich Rueschemeyer, eds., Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences, 2003; and Marc Trachtenberg, The Craft of International History, 2006) have spent much time and ink to show that researchers who eschew regressions or game theory can be just as methodologically aware and sophisticated as those who embrace them. Alexander George and Andrew Bennett's Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences is an impressive and welcome addition to this literature.

© 2007 American Political Science Association

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