Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method

The article Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method by Arend Lijphart draws up special attention to a definition and a detailed explanation of the comparative method in the politics. The author provides a scope of key issues to be taken into account in order to have the idea of the comparative approach. Thus, it is stated that the comparative method should not be confused with or equal to the experimental and statistical methods, as it is "a very imperfect substitute" (Lijphart 1971, 685).The author identifies a set of weaknesses and strengths of the comparative method without giving more attention to it, as they are needful to show a bunch of possibilities due to the aforementioned method. The pivotal idea as for the weaknesses of the method is concisely based on "many variables, small number of cases" (Lijphart 1971, 685). In this respect the cross-national analysis should touch upon the statistical and experimental methods in order to get the real picture of current political affairs. On the other hand, it is closely related to a bilateral approach of "macro hypotheses" and "micro replications" (Lijphart 1971, 685).Hence, the theorist, Arend Lijphart is more likely to designate the place of the comparative method pursuant to the attributive parameters gained in the societies, namely: individuals, nations, gender, age, status, etc. This idea is more developed in the further ways of diminishing many variables and small number of cases, as it has been mentioned above. The question is about a four-faceted instruction by the author as applied to reduce weaknesses of the comparative methods in comparative politics.

First, it is necessary to "increase the number of cases as much as possible" (Lijphart 1971, 686). Social science depends on the social and geo-political situation in the world. However, with the implication of different theories in politics (Parsonian, Almond's, etc.), it is possible to get different cases as pertained to the trendy tendencies in the world at the time.

Second, one should pay attention to "reducing the "property space" of the analysis" (Lijphart 1971, p. 687). In turn, it presupposes that the matrix of the relationships provided within the society is full of new cases. An investigator is considered to use information regarding a specific number of cases per niche.Third, the possibility to "focus the comparative analysis on "comparable" cases is highlighted" (Lijphart 1971, p. 687). Thereupon, the variables should be understood, as constants in an abridged meaning of such a definition. Differentiating among particular generalizations as per variables taken promotes the reduction of operative variables in their decreased number of concrete cases.Fourth, it is vital to "focus the comparative analysis on the "key" variables" (Lijphart 1971, p. 690). Not only are some specific approaches helpful in order to diminish many variables. No wonder, it is more important to pay attention to the inclusion, not scanning of variables. It definitely leads toward more prospective idea of the comparative politics and political thought, on the whole.In addition, the comparative method is referred to the case study method in terms of hypothesis-generated, atheoretical, interpretative, theory-confirming, theory-infirming, and deviant approaches (Lijphart 1971, p. 691). Thus, the comparative method and case studies are widely used to eliminate any misconception in a particular setting or for the purpose of a deeper investigation of definite political issues. The scientific political inquiry is in most points dependent of the comparative method and case study, as the required instruments to investigate political phenomena based on the measurement of different variables.

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