Social Science Concepts: A User's Guide

Princeton University Press
2
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Concepts lie at the core of social science theory and methodology. They provide substance to theories; they form the basis of measurement; they influence the selection of cases. Social Science Concepts: A Users Guide explores alternative means of concept construction and their impact on the role of concepts in measurement, case selection, and theories.

While there exists a plethora of books on measurement, scaling, and the like, there are virtually no books devoted to the construction and analysis of concepts and their role in the research enterprise. Social Science Concepts: A Users Guide provides detailed and practical advice on the construction and use of social science concepts; a Web site provides classroom exercises.

It uses a wide range of examples from political science and sociology such as revolution, welfare state, international disputes and war, and democracy to illustrate the theoretical and practical issues of concept construction and use. It explores the means of constructing complex, multilevel, and multidimensional concepts. In particular, it examines the classic necessary and sufficient condition approach to concept building and contrasts it with the family resemblance approach. The consequences of valid concept construction are explored in both qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Social Science Concepts: A Users Guide will prove an indispensable guide for graduate students and scholars in the social sciences. More broadly, it will appeal to scholars in any field who wish to think more carefully about the concepts used to create theories and research designs.

For Course Use:

Social Science Concepts: A Users Guide has been written with classroom use in mind. Many of the chapters have been successfully taught at the Annual Training Institute on Qualitative Research Methods which is sponsored by the Consortium on Qualitative Research Methods. Feedback from those experiences has been incorporated into the text. Each chapter provides useful, practical, and detailed advice on how to construct, evaluate, and use concepts. To make the volume more useful, an extensive set of classroom exercises is available from the author's Web page at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~ggoertz/social_science_concepts.html. These include questions about prominent published work on concepts, measures, and case selection; in addition there are logic exercises and questions regarding large-N applications.

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About the author

Gary Goertz is Professor of Political Science at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Contexts of International Politics and International Norms and Decision Making: A Punctuated Equilibrium Model, and the coauthor of War and Peace in International Rivalry.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 6, 2012
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781400842995
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / History & Theory
Social Science / Methodology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Provides a fully integrated approach to multimethod and case-study researchAn essential resource for students and researchers in political science, sociology, education, law, and businessCovers constraint causal mechanism, game theory and case studies, QCA, and the use of case studies to systematically test and generalize theoriesAn ideal textbook for a first-year graduate course in methods or research design
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An innovative and accessible textbook on multimethod and case-study research

Multimethod research has become indispensable to doing social science, and is essential to anyone who conducts large-scale research projects in political science, sociology, education, comparative law, or business. This authoritative and accessible book offers the first truly comprehensive approach to multimethod and case-study research, and is particularly aimed at students of qualitative methods in the social sciences.

Walking step-by-step through these cutting-edge tools and techniques, Gary Goertz introduces a new integrated approach that unites three corners of a powerful research triad—causal mechanisms, cross-case causal inference, and within-case causal inference. He explains how the investigation of causal mechanisms and the making of within-case causal inference are the central goals of multimethod and case study research, and provides a logic for connecting case studies and causal mechanism analysis with cross-case analysis, whether they are statistical analyses, experiments, or QCA. In addition, Goertz analyzes how one can generalize using case studies, as well as systematically test game-theoretic and other models using multiple case studies.

Provides a fully integrated approach to multimethod and case-study researchAn essential resource for students and researchers in political science, sociology, education, law, and businessCovers constraint causal mechanism, game theory and case studies, QCA, and the use of case studies to systematically test and generalize theoriesAn ideal textbook for a first-year graduate course in methods or research design
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