Jan 27: Erica Simmons Presentation, Methods Colloquium

Professor Erica Simmons (University of Wisconsin-Madison) will present in Methods Colloquium this Wednesday, January 27. The talk will be held from 1:30-3:00 pm in Lippincott (1314 Social Sciences).

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday! 

Abstract: To what extent can ethnographic and comparative methods inform each other? Ethnography is becoming an increasingly popular method within political science. Yet both proponents and detractors often see it as a technique best suited for producing in-depth knowledge about a particular case or for explicating the meaning of a particular political behavior. This paper argues that comparative ethnography – ethnographic research that explicitly and intentionally builds and argument through analysis of two or more cases – can be of particular value to political sciences looking to make causal claims that inform broader theoretical debates or t question existing theoretical categories. Doing so, however, requires that political scientists change how they think about comparison – focusing less on controlling for alternative explanations or explaining similarities or differences in outcomes of interest and focusing more on political processes. We propose that comparative ethnography can hone our theoretical models and help develop portable political insights. It can also help us rethink what it means to compare in the first place.
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