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Introductory Keynote: International Symposium of Comparative Sciences, 2013

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Watch a screencast of this keynote presentation here: …

Watch a screencast of this keynote presentation here:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xB6rPsjIbk
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIiDtghFDJk
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q_fNUEHv28

More information about the symposium is here: http://www.comparative-education.com/call-for-papers-international-symposium-on-comparative-sciences-2013-sofia-bulgaria/

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Transcript

  • 1. Introduction to the Symposium: “It is natural to compare” Alexander W. Wiseman Lehigh University, USA aww207@lehigh.edu
  • 2. AKA Comparing Comparative Methodologies: Pitfalls and Promises
  • 3. It is natural to compare. ● ● ● ● Comparison is often unplanned. Comparison is taken for granted. Comparison is innate. Comparison is fundamental to understanding. ○ ○ similarities/shared meanings differences/unique meanings
  • 4. Comparing Comparative Studies ● Not only identifying unique phenomena ● Also overlap and integration of comparative methodologies ● Contextualization and globalization ● Legitimacy of discipline/field influences comparative method
  • 5. Which questions should we begin asking this week? 1. Are comparative methods consistently defined and measured? 2. Are comparative methodologies context-, discipline-, or field-specific? 3. Do comparative methodologies lend themselves to multi-contextual analyses? ● Holistic approach rather than isolated phenomena.
  • 6. Lack of comparative reflection Certain areas of scholarly endeavor in contemporary social science have given rise to methodological reflection even more sophisticated than the substantive applications of the methods in question, but this has certainly not been the case for comparative history. Despite the steady application of variants of this approach to macrosocial topics such as revolutions, religious evolution, political development, economic "modernization," patterns of collective violence, and the rise and fall of empires, there have been remarkably few efforts to explore the methodological aspects of comparative history as such in any systematic fashion.‘ Skocpol & Somers, 1980, p.174 - Skocpol, T., & Somers, M. (1980). The Use of Comparative History in Macrosocial Inquiry. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 22(2), 174-197.
  • 7. What is the comparative method? “Comparative research design involves a decision over what to compare—what is the general class of ‘cases’ in a study—and how to compare, a choice about the comparative logics that drive the selection of specific cases.” - Bloemraad, 2013, p.27 Bloemraad, I. (2013). The promise and pitfalls of comparative research design in the study of migration. Migration Studies, 1(1), 27-46.
  • 8. Methodological nationalism? “The issue of whether the scale of comparison is appropriate is often forgotten; and a fixed sense that a nation-state has always been there, hides the variable and contingent boundaries of the entity that is being compared.” FitzGerald, 2012, p.7 FitzGerald, D. (2012). A comparativist manifesto for international migration studies. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 1-16.
  • 9. The Pitfalls of Comparison ● When do we develop or apply comparative methodologies to phenomena, situations, or contexts that cannot bear comparison? ● Comparisons can identify, reproduce, and institutionalize social, economic, and political stratification. ● “Comparison without careful forethought can leave researchers open to criticism…” (Bloemraad, 2013, 31).
  • 10. The Promises of Comparison ● Shared conceptual infrastructure for comparison is achievable: ○ How do we compare for understanding, not institutionalization? ○ How do we compare for shared wisdom, not isolated research? ○ How do we value what we share as well as what makes us unique? ○ What are constructively critical approaches to comparing comparative methodologies?
  • 11. Which questions should we begin asking this week? 1. Are comparative methods consistently defined and measured? 2. Are comparative methodologies context-, discipline-, or field-specific? 3. Do comparative methodologies lend themselves to multi-contextual analyses? ● Holistic approach rather than isolated phenomena.