Doing Social Science

Perhaps belatedly I am catching up with some of the debate following KKV. This involves Brady & Collier’s Rethinking Social Inquiry. Generally I can recommend Rethinking Social Inquiry to anyone looking for something more recent than KKV, especially as it offers good summaries of KKV. What I didn’t like at all were the undertones of “not me, but you too” –: yes, there are many bad examples of quantitative work, but this simply doesn’t invalidate (or even dent) the quantitative framework.

It also bugs me that the contributors to Rethinking Social Inquiry do not seem to grasp the difference between science and (political) analysis. There is much excellent and insightful political analysis that isn’t scientific. This includes case studies where they simply present a thick description of a case that doesn’t fit perceived wisdom. Unless we have a silly deterministic hypothesis (all x are like y with no room for uncertainty), a single case just cannot prove anything.

What is great about Rethinking Social Inquiry is that the dialogue continues.

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