Advertisement

What Do Social Scientists Do When They Do Comparative Work?

  • Lilian MathieuEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Comparison is nowadays recognized as a major scientific tool among social movement analysts. But if the development and the standardization of comparative methodology in the study of contentious politics is a positive sign of scientific maturity, the other side of the coin is that it is also quite often taken for granted. Relying on various examples and on Wittgenstein’s philosophy, this chapter focuses on some of the shortcomings that researchers face when comparison becomes an analytical routine rather than, what French historian Marc Bloch called, a “divining rod” for social sciences. The chapter’s aim is to restore the undeniable and irreplaceable heuristic vocation of comparison by recalling some of the basic methodological rules that researchers should follow in order to make their results rigorous and convincing.

Keywords

Collective Action Social Movement Feminist Movement Comparative Work Democratic Transition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bendix, R. (1964). Preconditions and development: A comparison of Japan and Germany. In R. Bendix (Ed.), Nation-building and citizenship. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Bloch, M. (1995 [1928]). Histoire et historiens. Paris: Armand Colin.Google Scholar
  3. Brinton, C. (1965). The Anatomy of revolution. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  4. Detienne, M. (2010). Comparing the incomparable. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dobry, M. (Ed.). (2000). Democratic and capitalist transitions in eastern Europe. Lessons for the social sciences. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  6. Durkheim, É. (1987 [1895]). Les Règles de la méthode sociologique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  7. Gamson, J. (1995). Must identity movement self-destruct? A queer dilemma. Social Problems, 42(3), 390–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Giugni, M. (Ed.) (2008a). The contentious politics of European unemployment: An Introduction. Mobilization, Special issue, 13(3).Google Scholar
  9. Giugni, M. (2008b). Welfare states, political opportunities, and the mobilization of the unemployed: A cross-national analysis. Mobilization special issue: The Contentious politics of European Unemployment, 13(3), 297–310.Google Scholar
  10. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  11. Kitschelt, H. (1986). Political opportunity structures and political protest: Anti-nuclear movements in four democracies. British Journal of Political Science, 16, 57–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kriesi, H., Koopmans, R., Duyvendak, J., & Giugni, M. (1995). New social movements in western Europe: A comparative analysis. London: UCL Press.Google Scholar
  13. Lamont, M., & Thévenot, L. (Eds.). (2000). Rethinking comparative cultural sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Mathieu, L. (2004). Des mouvements sociaux à la politique contestataire: Les voies tâtonnantes d’un renouvellement de perspective. Revue Française de Sociologie, 45(3), 561–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McAdam, D., Tarrow, S., & Tilly, C. (2001). Dynamics of contention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McCarthy, J., & Zald, M. (1977). Resource mobilization and social movements: A partial theory. The American Journal of Sociology, 82(6), 1212–1241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Melucci, A. (1980). The new social movements: A theoretical approach. Social Science Information, 19(2), 217–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Moore, B. (1966). Social origins of dictatorship and democracy. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  19. Moore, R., & Roberts, M. (2009). Do it yourself mobilization: Punk and social movements. Mobilization, 14(3), 273–291.Google Scholar
  20. O’Donnell, G., Schmitter, P., & Whitebread, L. (Eds.). (1986). Transition from authoritarian rule. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Öngün, E. (2008). Action collective transnationale et contraintes de l’espace national. Enquête sur les formes de l’engagement en Turquie dans le contexte de “l’européanisation” (Doctoral Dissertation, Institut d’études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence, France). Doctoral Dissertation in Political Science.Google Scholar
  22. Sartori, G. (1991). Comparing and miscomparing. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 3(3), 243–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Skocpol, T. (1979). States and social revolutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Tilly, C. (1984). Big structures, large processes, huge comparisons. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  25. Tilly, C., & Tarrow, S. (2007). Contentious politics. New York: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Touraine, A. (Ed.). (1982). Mouvements sociaux d’aujourd’hui. Paris: Les Éditions ouvrières.Google Scholar
  27. Wittgenstein, L. (1958). The blue and brown books. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Wittgenstein, L. (2001 [1953]). Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Max WeberEcole normale supérieure de LyonLyonFrance

Personalised recommendations