SAGE Journals

Consensus and dissensus in comparative politics: Do comparativists agree on the goals, methods, and results of the field?

Version 2 2020-08-31, 06:07
Version 1 2019-08-17, 12:08
Posted on 2020-08-31 - 06:07

Are comparative political scientists divided over the goals, methods, and results of their field? This article attempts to answer this question, drawing on an original survey of US-based political scientists. The main conclusion is that there is relative consensus on the goals of research—comparativists favor broad generalizations and causal inference—but there is also acceptance of a variety of methodological approaches, both qualitative and quantitative, in pursuing this goal. Comparativists, however, show less agreement on substantive findings in the areas of democracy and democratic politics, economy and society, and political institutions. Interestingly, generational differences are relatively infrequent, but gender differences on issues such as rational choice and causal inference are more prominent, possibly contributing to gendered citation bias. The findings suggest that comparative politics may not have accumulated a large amount of agreed-upon knowledge, but that there is substantial agreement on the path forward.


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