Research Methods

Edwin Amenta and Alexander Hicks

in The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579396
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Research Methods

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  • Politics
  • Political Methodology
  • Comparative Politics



This article summarizes some of the most common methodological approaches in the study of welfare states, focusing on causal research, and addresses some of their achievements and drawbacks. It specifically provides in-depth historical analyses of a single country case to historical analyses of a few countries to Boolean qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) across medium-N samples of countries and sub-national polities to cross-sectional and pooled cross-sectional and time-series analyses of countries and sub-national polities. It also presents suggestions for synthesizing, triangulating, and combining methods in order to minimize the disadvantages and maximize the advantages of different approaches. Given the various strengths and weaknesses of the different methodological approaches, it is useful for scholars to employ more than one. Scholars of social policy have combined methods and triangulated them, reaping advantages, while minimizing the disadvantages of any single approach.

Keywords: causal research; welfare states; qualitative comparative analysis; time-series analysis; cross-sectional analysis; social policy; sub-national polities

Article.  6941 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Political Methodology ; Comparative Politics

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