From Case Studies to Social Science: A Strategy for Political Research

Robert H. Bates

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199566020
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577482 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

From Case Studies to Social Science: A Strategy for Political Research

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  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Methodology


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This article presents a strategy for political research. It first explores the ways people comprehend and briefly discusses the forms of comprehension. The next section introduces the author's fieldwork in the coffee zones of East Africa. This reveals that the first step of the strategy is immersion, and the second is a movement from insight to explanation, which is marked by the production of theory. Finally, it shows that the resultant explanation may be logically coherent, faithful to the original intuition, and consistent with the observations that inspired it.

Keywords: strategy; political research; forms of comprehension; immersion; production of theory; insight; explanation

Article.  6077 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; Political Methodology

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