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Context and Causal Mechanisms in Political Analysis

Context and Causal Mechanisms in Political Analysis Political scientists largely agree that causal mechanisms are crucial to understanding causation. Recent advances in qualitative and quantitative methodology suggest that causal explanations must be contextually bounded. Yet the relationship between context and mechanisms and this relationship's importance for causation are not well understood. This study defines causal mechanisms as portable concepts that explain how and why a hypothesized cause, in a given context, contributes to a particular outcome. In turn, it defines context as the relevant aspects of a setting in which an array of initial conditions leads to an outcome of a defined scope and meaning via causal mechanisms. Drawing from these definitions is the argument that credible causal explanation can occur if and only if researchers are attentive to the interaction between causal mechanisms and context, regardless of whether the methods employed are small-sample, formal, statistical, or interpretive. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Political Studies SAGE

Context and Causal Mechanisms in Political Analysis

Comparative Political Studies , Volume 42 (9): 24 – Sep 1, 2009

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References (78)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
0010-4140
eISSN
1552-3829
DOI
10.1177/0010414009331724
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Political scientists largely agree that causal mechanisms are crucial to understanding causation. Recent advances in qualitative and quantitative methodology suggest that causal explanations must be contextually bounded. Yet the relationship between context and mechanisms and this relationship's importance for causation are not well understood. This study defines causal mechanisms as portable concepts that explain how and why a hypothesized cause, in a given context, contributes to a particular outcome. In turn, it defines context as the relevant aspects of a setting in which an array of initial conditions leads to an outcome of a defined scope and meaning via causal mechanisms. Drawing from these definitions is the argument that credible causal explanation can occur if and only if researchers are attentive to the interaction between causal mechanisms and context, regardless of whether the methods employed are small-sample, formal, statistical, or interpretive.

Journal

Comparative Political StudiesSAGE

Published: Sep 1, 2009

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