By B. Guy Peters (auth.)
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Extra info for Comparative Politics: Theory and Methods
Other observed formats for government and public policy may be less obviously a product of diffusion. Take, for example, the formation of social insurance programmes in the countries of the world. While the concept of social insurance could be invented only once, the pattern by which it spread appeared to follow a natural path of economic and social development rather than one of more forcible diffusion. Several of the wealthier countries in Latin America, for example, adopted social security programmes long before the United States or many countries in Europe (Mesa-Lago, 1978; 1989).
These political 'cargo cults' do show something of the power of ideas in changing behaviour, but also can confuse comparative analysis. r Levels of Analysis Another fundamental question for the design of comparative analysis is how to link the individual and the collectivity. Comparative politics is concerned about the behaviour of political systems, but it is also concerned about the behaviour of the individuals within those systems (Silverman, 1991). The problem is that it is very easy to slip into fallacious reasoning that attributes the properties discovered at 44 Comparative Politics one level of analysis to the other level (see p.
If there is good theory in the research area then it should help the investigator determine whether the right control variables are being considered for a statistical analysis, or whether the appropriate factors are being considered in selecting the cases in a more strictly comparative z, 34 Comparative Politics design. Faure may have been too pessimistic given that, particularly with statistical research, finding inconsistent or unexpected results may lead to the search for concepts that explain those findings, but, in general, researchers are dependent upon existing conceptions of the political world.
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