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Edited by Patricia Kennett
Chapter 18: The Quantitative Method in Comparative Research
18 The quantitative method in comparative research Mattei Dogan Comparative observation can replace direct experiments by altering the circumstances of a series of observations. Through quantiﬁcations the comparative method can become a substitute for the experimental method. The method of concomitant variations described by J.S. Mill contained the logic of statistical correlations and multiple regressions that social scientists use today. Among the many issues that could be raised I have selected eight to discuss brieﬂy. I shall not look at the entire ﬁeld of comparative politics, only at efforts of quantiﬁcation and at the limits of the statistical method. I shall abstain from commenting on the other end of the comparative spectrum – the castles of grand theories. I shall also leave aside the literature on mathematical modelling, and any discussion on the gap between method and theory, an issue which raises enormous problems. Instead I will concentrate on the links between data and method. The eight issues to be discussed are as follows: the signiﬁcance of the national average, the potentials and limits of survey research, the worldwide statistical analysis, the gross national product as a fallacious indicator, the scoring and scaling as a substitute for formal statistics, the need to replace isolated indicators by composite indices, the temporal lag between cause and effect, and the problem of the shadow economy in comparative research. These eight issues, among others, are chosen because of their relevance in the speciﬁc domain of quantitative comparisons. 1. National averages...
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