Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics

Theoretical and Methodological Challenges

Edited by Dietmar Braun and Martino Maggetti

What are the conceptual and methodological challenges facing comparative politics today? This informative book discusses four main challenges that create stress for disciplinary reproduction and advancement, while providing potential solutions. In seven chapters, the contributors cover the most pressing issues: the dissolution of the nation-state as the main objective of inquiry; the increasing complexity of concepts and methods; the capacity to accumulate knowledge; and the tensions between parsimonious and contextually rich explanations.

Chapter 2: The problem of interdependence

Detlef Jahn and Sebastian Stephan

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, international politics


The problem of interdependence between units of observation in comparative politics is one of the most serious challenges in the conduct of comparative research. It defies the use of taking the unit of analysis as the condition of policy choices. As this chapter shows, the issue was not treated seriously for a long time. Only in the last decade has interdependence been considered adequately as an explanatory aspect. The reasons for this development can mainly be found in the evolution of the field of spatial econometrics. Our aim is to portray the most influential interpretations as well as the analytical and methodical advancements, which have been offered in the context of diffusion research, to solve the problem of interdependence. Even if many questions were answered in the last millennium, our conclusion shows that many points have yet to be addressed in order to integrate interdependence more effectively into comparative analysis.

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