Comparative-Historical Sociology - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Sociology

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Purposes, Promise, Achievements

The analytic power of comparative-historical strategies stems from the uniquely paradoxical quality of the perspectives, data, and procedures in comparative-historical research. On the one hand, historical comparisons have the potential to harness and exploit the huge variation in social processes and institutions. Some scholars believe this essential to the development of truly general theory and to transcultural/transhistorical explanation (Przeworski and Tuene 1970; Kiser and Hechter 1991). On the other hand, historical comparisons have the potential to exploit the "time-space boundedness" of social life and its historical antecedents and specificity. Others view this as equally essential to theoretical development and to concrete, "real world" explanation (Moore 1966; Skocpol 1984b; Tilly 1984; Stryker 1996). Most comparative-historical sociologists capitalize in some fashion on this paradox, finding diversity in the midst of uniformity and producing regularities from differences.

One of the great advantages of historical comparisons is that they reduce bias induced by...

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This section contains 6,022 words
(approx. 21 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Comparative-Historical Sociology Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Sociology
Comparative-Historical Sociology from Encyclopedia of Sociology. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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