Comparative Research Designs and Methods – Presentation of the course

Comparative Research Designs and Methods – Presentation of the course


welcome to this course on comparative research designs and comparative methods in the social sciences my name is Dirk Berg Schlosser I am professor of political science at the University of Marburg in Germany in political science, but also in the other social sciences, like sociology or economics, we are often interested at finding out explanations at a macro level of entire societies, countries, states, like for example we are interested to find out why the educational system in Finland seems to work better according to the PISA studies than in many of the other European countries or why democracy in Germany, in the period between the two Great Wars pulled down and it did not in other European countries so at this macro level of analysis we are confronted with a particular dilemma on the one hand we are dealing with really complex very large cases with really many variables, but at the same time we only have a limited number of cases so, in order to cope with this dilemma we have to reduce complexity and in this respect, during the last two decades some new methods have been developed which can be used in the social sciences and one of these methods is called qualitative comparative analysis or QCA for short and also some new software has been developed which can be used in this respect but not only in the social sciences but also in day-to-day daily life situations we can use such systematic comparisons for example here we are at the harbor of the beautiful city of Naples and in my course I use an example where some people go to a seafood restaurant having different kinds of seafoods shrimp, oysters, different kinds of fish and then some of these persons become sick afterwards and has astouned and then, using a systematic comparison we actually can find out what caused the illness and what not so, not only in the social sciences at large but also in daily life such methods can be really useful and relevant for many purposes