Skip Nav

Rules of Comparative Research

View disciplines

❶Dr Fredrik Engelstad Subject: Each volume is concentrated on a specific topic, mostly of substantive, but also of methodological character.


Most popular countries
Other Master’s Programmes
Navigation menu

Moreover, behind the Greek comparative gaze also was the philosophical and political questioning which characterised the life of the democratic polis. Similarly, questioning of the Greek laws and institutions and its related values and practices e.

According also to Karl Deutsch , we have been using this form of investigation for over 2, years. Comparing things is essential to basic scientific and philosophic inquiry, which has been done for a long time. It is largely an empty debate over the definition of the tradition with those questioning whether comparing things counts as comparative research. Textbooks on this form of study were beginning to appear by the s, but its rise to extreme popularity began after World War II.

Globalization has been a major factor, increasing the desire and possibility for educational exchanges and intellectual curiosity about other cultures.

Information technology has enabled greater production of quantitative data for comparison, and international communications technology has facilitated this information to be easily spread. Comparative research, simply put, is the act of comparing two or more things with a view to discovering something about one or all of the things being compared. This technique often utilizes multiple disciplines in one study. When it comes to method, the majority agreement is that there is no methodology peculiar to comparative research.

There are certainly methods that are far more common than others in comparative studies, however. Quantitative analysis is much more frequently pursued than qualitative, and this is seen by the majority of comparative studies which use quantitative data. Like cases are treated alike, and different cases are treated differently; the extent of difference determines how differently cases are to be treated. If one is able to sufficiently distinguish two carry the research conclusions will not be very helpful.

Secondary analysis of quantitative data is relatively widespread in comparative research, undoubtedly in part because of the cost of obtaining primary data for such large things as a country's policy environment.

This study is generally aggregate data analysis. Comparing large quantities of data especially government sourced is prevalent. In line with how a lot of theorizing has gone in the last century, comparative research does not tend to investigate "grand theories," such as Marxism.

It instead occupies itself with middle-range theories that do not purport to describe our social system in its entirety, but a subset of it.

He noticed there was a difference in types of social welfare systems, and compared them based on their level of decommodification of social welfare goods.

He found that he was able to class welfare states into three types, based on their level of decommodification. The European Commission has established several large-scale programmes, and observatories and networks have been set up to monitor and report on social and economic developments in member states. At the same time, government departments and research funding bodies have shown a growing interest in international comparisons, particularly in the social policy area, often as a means of evaluating the solutions adopted for dealing with common problems or to assess the transferability of policies between member states.

Yet, relatively few social scientists feel they are well equipped to conduct studies that seek to cross national boundaries, or to work in international teams. This reluctance may be explained not only by a lack of knowledge or understanding of different cultures and languages but also by insufficient awareness of the research traditions and processes operating in different national contexts. Approaches to cross-national research For the purposes of this article, a study is held to be cross-national and comparative, when individuals or teams set out to examine particular issues or phenomena in two or more countries with the express intention of comparing their manifestations in different socio-cultural settings institutions, customs, traditions, value systems, lifestyles, language, thought patterns , using the same research instruments either to carry out secondary analysis of national data or to conduct new empirical work.

The aim may be to seek explanations for similarities and differences, to generalise from them or to gain a greater awareness and a deeper understanding of social reality in different national contexts. In many respects, the methods adopted in cross-national comparative research are no different from those used for within-nation comparisons or for other areas of sociological research.

The descriptive or survey method, which will usually result in a state of the art review, is generally the first stage in any large-scale international comparative project, such as those carried out by the European observatories and networks. A juxtaposition approach is often adopted at this stage: Some large-scale projects are intended to be explanatory from the outset and therefore focus on the degree of variability observed from one national sample to another.

Such projects may draw on several methods: The method is often adopted when a smaller number of countries is involved and for more qualitative studies, where researchers are looking at a well-defined issue in two or more national contexts and are required to have intimate knowledge of all the countries under study.

The approach may combine surveys, secondary analysis of national data, and also personal observation and an interpretation of the findings in relation to their wider social contexts. Irrespective of the organisational structure of the research, a shift is occurring in emphasis away from descriptive, universalist and 'culture-free' approaches to social phenomena.

The societal approach, which has perhaps been most fully explicated in relation to industrial sociology Maurice et al.

Another result of the greater emphasis on contextualisation in comparative studies is their increasingly interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary character, since a wide range of factors must be considered at the lowest possible level of disaggregation.

Problems in cross-national comparative research The shift in orientation towards a more interpretative, culture-bound approach means that linguistic and cultural factors, together with differences in research traditions and administrative structures cannot be ignored. If these problems go unresolved, they are likely to affect the quality of the results of the whole project, since the researcher runs the risk of losing control over the construction and analysis of key variables.

Managing and funding cross-national projects The mix of countries selected in comparative studies affects the quality and comparability of the data as well as the nature of the collaboration between researchers. In ideal conditions, a project team manager will be able to select the countries to be included in the study and researchers with appropriate knowledge and expertise to undertake the work.

In small-scale bilateral comparisons, this may be feasible, but more often the reality is different, and participation may be determined by factors sometimes political which do not make for easy relationships between team members.

European programmes often include all EU member states, although the countries concerned may represent very different stages of economic and social development and be influenced by different cultural value systems, assumptions and thought patterns. The financial resources available for the research differ considerably from one national context to another.

Funding bodies have their own agenda: The amount of time that can be allocated to the research, the ease with which reliable data can be obtained and the relative expense involved are also likely to affect the quality of the material for comparisons. The problems of organising meetings which all participants in a project can attend, of negotiating a research agenda, of reaching agreement on approaches and definitions and of ensuring that they are observed are not to be underestimated.

Linguistic and cultural affinity is central to an understanding of why researchers from some national groups find it easier to work together and to reach agreement on research topics, design and instruments. Even within a single discipline, differences in the research traditions of participating countries may affect the results of a collaborative project and the quality of any joint publications. Accessing comparable data In many European projects, national experts are required to provide descriptive accounts of selected trends and developments derived from national data sources.

The co-ordinators then synthesise information on key themes and issues see for example, Ditch et al. Since much of the international work carried out at European level is not strictly comparative at the design and data collection stages, the findings cannot then be compared systematically.

Data collection is strongly influenced by national conventions. Their source, the purpose for which they were gathered, the criteria used and the method of collection may vary considerably from one country to another, and the criteria adopted for coding data may change over time. In some areas, national records may be non-existent or may not go back very far. For certain topics, information may be routinely collected in tailor-made surveys in a number of the participating countries, whereas in others it may be more limited because the topic has attracted less attention among policy-makers.

Official statistics may be produced in too highly aggregated a form and may not have been collected systematically over time. In many multinational studies, much time and effort is expended on trying to reduce classifications to a common base. Concepts and research parameters Despite considerable progress in the development of large-scale harmonised international databases, such as Eurostat, which tend to give the impression that quantitative comparisons are unproblematic, attempts at cross-national comparisons are still too often rendered ineffectual by the lack of a common understanding of central concepts and the societal contexts within which phenomena are located.

Agreement is therefore difficult to reach over research parameters and units of comparison.

Information Page

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

The most cited papers from this title published in the last 3 years. Statistics are updated weekly using participating publisher data sourced exclusively from Crossref.

Privacy FAQs

Comparative Social Research seeks well-written articles that place the current or historical data in context, critically review the literature of comparative studies, or provide new theoretical or methodological insights. The series recognizes that comparative research is theoretically and methodologically interdisciplinary, and encourages and supports .

About Our Ads

This volume of Comparative Social Research invites papers that can contribute to improve our understanding of the drivers, mechanisms, and effects of the past decade’s surge in cross-border labour mobility and work related migration within Europe. Comparative social research (Comp Soc Res) Journal description. Despite the growing awareness of globalization, the main bulk of empirical work in the social sciences remains within the frames of.

Cookie Info

HSE and L'École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) have signed an agreement for the provision of a double degree track for the HSE’s Master's programme in Comparative Social Research. This is the second double degree track being offered to students of this programme. Comparative Social Research In our globalized world of today a huge variety of nations, cultures and societies comprised of an even bigger variance of political, ethnical, religious and other groups, are interconnected and develop in relation with each other.