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The Art and Craft of Comparison


Part of Strategies for Social Inquiry

  • Date Published: October 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108460668

£ 23.99

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About the Authors
  • Is it possible to compare French presidential politics with village leadership in rural India? Most social scientists are united in thinking such unlikely juxtapositions are not feasible. Boswell, Corbett and Rhodes argue that they are possible. This book explains why and how. It is a call to arms for interpretivists to embrace creatively comparative work. As well as explaining, defending and illustrating the comparative interpretive approach, this book is also an engaging, hands-on guide to doing comparative interpretive research, with chapters covering design, fieldwork, analysis and writing. The advice in each revolves around 'rules of thumb', grounded in experience, and illustrated through stories and examples from the authors' research in different contexts around the world. Naturalist and humanist traditions have thus far dominated the field but this book presents a real alternative to these two orthodoxies which expands the horizons of comparative analysis in social science research.

    • Outlines and defends a uniquely interpretive approach to comparative research
    • Presents a refreshing alternative to established traditions of comparison in social science
    • Provides practical guidance for new entrants into the field who might be interested in doing this type of research
    • Written in an accessible style with stories of fieldwork that will engage readers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Against those who would seek to either constrict or suppress the comparative intuition, Boswell, Corbett, and Rhodes make a brilliant case for an open and artful use of comparison in the social sciences. Comparing, they show, can be a creative act in which discovery, plausible conjecture, and unlikely juxtaposition figure prominently. A mind-opening perspective, colorfully presented, from which all social scientists can learn.' Frederic Schaffer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    '… refreshingly honest, pragmatic and easy-to-follow, explaining how scholars within the broad interpretive tradition can adapt their research for comparative social science.' Marc Geddes, European Consortium for Political Research

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108460668
    • length: 174 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 175 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 13 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Comparative intuition
    2. Interpretation
    3. Dilemmas
    4. Design
    5. Fieldwork
    6. Analysis
    7. The craft of writing
    8. Retrospective

  • Authors

    John Boswell, University of Southampton
    John Boswell is Associate Professor in Politics at the University of Southampton. He is the author of The Real War on Obesity (2016).

    Jack Corbett, University of Southampton
    Jack Corbett is Professor of Politics at the University of Southampton. He has authored or edited of five books and more than fifty articles and book chapters. He holds honorary appointments at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, the Australian National University, and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University, Australia.

    R. A. W. Rhodes, University of Southampton
    R. A. W. Rhodes is Professor of Government (Research) at the University of Southampton. He has authored or edited forty books and two hundred articles and book chapters, including Network Governance and the Differentiated Polity: Selected Essays, Volume I (2017); and Interpretive Political Science: Selected Essays, Volume II (2017). He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and Britain.

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