Edited by Patricia Kennett
Chapter 14: Quantitative methods with survey data in comparative research
Social scientists are interested in societies in which individuals live, and in social networks and institutions. They believe that these contexts have an influence on individual characteristics, attitudes, choices and behaviour. There is a long-standing tradition of cross-national research, especially in comparative political analysis in which political systems (e.g., nations) are analysed as cases or used as context. In the most general terms, comparative social research refers to research designs by which data from different societies and/or cultures, and/or data from particular societies and/or cultures at different time periods, are collected and compared (Allardt, 1990, p. 183). In the 1960s and 1970s a flow of handbooks and readers in comparative research with special attention to comparisons of large-scale units were published. Methodological problems related to aggregate data had a prominent place among academics at that time (Scheuch, 1966). The term ‘human ecology’ won general acceptance in the social sciences. In its broadest sense, the term was intended to cover all varieties of research on the adjustment of human beings to their environments. Other central issues discussed at that time were cross-national archiving, international cooperation in the organization of facilities and the development of techniques for quantitative analysis of data measured at several levels (Dogan and Rokkan, 1969, pp. 1–4).
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