Request PDF on ResearchGate | On Jan 29, , David Marsh and others published Theory and methods in political science: 3rd edition. Theory and Methods in Political Science by David Marsh, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. A broad-ranging and pluralistic textbook which highlights the rich variety of approaches to studying politics. Written by an international team of experts, this fully.

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theories, as distinct from concepts, and reviews the methods of assessing Political theory can easily be distinguished from (positive) political science. Political. The discipline of political science: a celebration of diversity. PART 1 THEORY AND APPROACHES. Introduction to Part 1. Gerry Stoker. 1 Behavioural. "A very useful and accessible text which delivers between two covers an in-depth introduction both to approaches and theories and to methods and research.

Posed in such a direct and stark manner, this may well be a rather uncomfortable question to ask. While this question may lead us to the core features of political science, Stoker, , p. As third, this essay will define what an oxymoron is. Finally, this essay will take a look at prominent or possible critiques and responses to the posed conclusion.

Both, as we shall see, have methodological implications. Hay, , p. No one really agrees on one specific definition or explanation.

This essay argues that whenever one talks about politics or anything political, one always talks about human 2 relations and their perception of influence or power. The public feeling seems to be that if political scientist were in the possession of anything even faintly resembling a science, they could tell the world something beyond what is in the daily news, could provide not just the known facts but general explanations that would make the political world more understandable.

Comparative politics

William H. Riker and his colleagues and students at the University of Rochester were the main proponents of this shift. Despite considerable research progress in the discipline based on all the kinds of scholarship discussed above, it has been observed that progress toward systematic theory has been modest and uneven.

Several general indicators of crises and methods were proposed for anticipating critical transitions. The theory of apparent inevitability of crises and revolutions was also developed. Until the late years of the Soviet Union, political science as a field was subjected to tight control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and was thus subjected to distrust. Anti-communists accused political scientists of being "false" scientists and of having served the old regime. These institutes were victims of the first wave of anticommunist opinion and ideological attacks.

Today, the Russian Political Science Association unites professional political scientists from all around Russia.

Recent developments[ edit ] In , the Perestroika Movement in political science was introduced as a reaction against what supporters of the movement called the mathematicization of political science.

Those who identified with the movement argued for a plurality of methodologies and approaches in political science and for more relevance of the discipline to those outside of it. However, these mechanisms evolved for dealing with the small group politics that characterized the ancestral environment and not the much larger political structures in today's world. In fact, even established scholars can benefit from thinking more systematically about research puzzles, as it may help them communicate their contributions more clearly than is often the case in conference papers, manuscripts submitted for review and sometimes even in published work.

Finally, we believe a more diffuse practice of formulating research puzzles could help facilitate debate and possibly even understanding across the boundaries that currently divide political science.

Scholars might use different theories and methods for understanding or explaining politics, but we suggest they can construct similar research puzzles. In the remainder, we first critically evaluate the three most widespread ideas on how to motivate research, that is, research gaps, real-world problems and methodological rigour.

We then outline what a puzzle is, explain why puzzles are useful and indeed necessary, and present a strategy for constructing puzzles premised on problematization and abduction. Finally, we illustrate how our advice can be used to help students formulate research puzzles. How to justify new research Critically assessing the three main suggestions identified above for justifying new research, this section also begins to delineate our alternative approach.

Political Science Methodology

We agree about the need to clarify the contribution to existing research, and view close familiarity with the previous literature as crucial. However, we dispute the idea that a gap — understood as a topic that has not previously been analysed — sufficiently motivates new research. Other well-cited works on research design and methods also refer to gaps. Alexander L. While gaps are only part of what motivates new research for George and Bennett, they are nonetheless central.

What important questions went unasked?

Some may object that few established scholars consider gap-filling sufficient motivation for new research, but the idea remains influential. However, previous neglect does not automatically make the study of a topic necessary.

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On the contrary, such inattention could indicate that it lacks implications for previous research. Hence, gap filling under-problematizes the relationship to previous research.

By failing to challenge assumptions in the existing literature, it risks reinforcing dominant theories Alvesson and Sandberg, While we consider a gap to be insufficient reason for undertaking a study Schmitter, : ; Alvesson and Sandberg, : chapter 4 , it is potentially a useful starting point, from which to proceed towards a research puzzle. A similar argument suggests that new research can be motivated by studying what has yet to be sufficiently explored Booth et al, : chapters 3 and 4.

Such a stance implies the possibility of achieving complete or sufficient knowledge. To avoid falling into the gap trap once again, however, it is crucial to explain exactly why particular shortcomings need to be remedied and why certain understandings and explanations are worth pursuing beyond individual motivations. Real-world problems The argument that new research is justified if it addresses pressing real-world problems is also influential in the methods literature.

In politics, numerous generic problems require attention.

A case in point, central to the International Relations IR sub-discipline, is why states go to war. This is undoubtedly an important question, but formulated as such it is a political problem rather than a research puzzle.

Norman Blaikie defines a social problem as a state of affairs in society which policymakers, pundits and sociologists deem inadequate, and therefore in need of attention or a solution.

A sociological problem, by contrast, is one that sociologists consider in need of a better explanation or enhanced understanding Blaikie, : While scholars can pay attention to, and propose solutions for, social and political problems, we believe they need to frame their research differently from for example the media or the government. Hence, while political problems involve phenomena in need of political attention and resolution, research puzzles pinpoint issues in previous research in need of scholarly attention and resolution.

This does not mean that research puzzles cannot have real-world significance, or that researchers should shun political problems. On the contrary, compelling research puzzles often have political significance Mosser, A real-world problem might be the starting point for a research project, but is in itself insufficient as a justification for new research without an explanation of what makes the existing academic knowledge pertaining to it inadequate.

Another reason why scholars should refrain from basing their research only on what is considered a political problem is that they risk being reduced to useful idiots. Doing such research does not automatically lead scholars to accept established definitions of problems, but it sets certain boundaries — the uncritical acceptance of which increases the risk of adopting status quo-oriented approaches.

Of course, even when researchers control the formulation of problems and puzzles, the process is inevitably influenced by individual or collective norms and values Rosenau, : 31; Mosser, : We argue below that such assumptions should be scrutinized and problematized as far as possible. Methodological rigour Apart from gaps and real-world problems, the methods literature implies that rigorous research design and sophisticated methods themselves justify new research.

However, as mentioned, the methods literature mainly focuses on how to do research, while discussions of why certain research is necessary are less common e.

Van Evera, similarly, is mostly preoccupied with arguing why case study method can be used in positivist theory-testing : chapters 1 and 2.

While rigorous methodology is necessary in all research, the works discussed above arguably espouse an excessively narrow understanding of what qualifies as such.

Instead, a strong argument is necessary as to why new research can provide an explanation or understanding that differs from, and preferably supersedes, those found in existing scholarship. Most agree with Popper that methods are essential in the context of justification — where hypotheses are tested and the inquiry is carried out. Many methodologists therefore seem to believe that it is impossible to prescribe a method for developing new ideas.

Against this deep-seated belief, we argue that it can be done by thinking methodically about research puzzles. Research puzzles: What, why and how?

Both gaps and real-world problems can be used as starting points when developing research puzzles, and methodological rigour is important in all research projects, but none of these propositions sufficiently motivate new research.

This section clarifies what a research puzzle is, why it is useful, and how one can be conceived. What a puzzle is, and how to develop one In a book chapter, James Rosenau emphasized the importance of genuine puzzlement.

Political Science Methodology

While we may agree that this is puzzling, without a clear connection to previous knowledge it resembles a political problem rather than a political science research puzzle. The researcher considers the phenomenon x puzzling since it happens despite y — that is, previous knowledge that would seem contradicted by its occurrence.

Hence, puzzlement arises when things do not fit together as anticipated, challenging existing knowledge. Put differently, it could be argued that our formula takes the x and the y as objectively existing and true.

While this critique has a point, the x and the y do not need to be viewed as truths, but could be regarded as broadly shared beliefs or reasons for believing that something might be true.

Post-positivist approaches could address research puzzles constructed in line with our formula, and influential studies do so e. Campbell, ; Doty, ; Weldes and Saco, Hence, we argue that puzzles are impartial to theoretical approach and that social science research, regardless of ontology and epistemology, benefits from constructing clear research puzzles, or from explicating tacit puzzles that sometimes exist between the lines.

Research puzzles can increase communicability within and between academic paradigms and therefore enhance the likelihood that a study can become influential and have impact beyond the circle of theoretically or methodologically like-minded scholars. While we agree that social science should aim for generality, such an aim does not preclude addressing deviance. The discovery of unexpected deviation from a pattern established in earlier research can produce new knowledge that not simply confirms, but questions what we collectively believe we know.

What has hitherto been considered a pattern is destabilized by conflicting observations or interpretations. Discussions of anomalies in political science have primarily focused on their role in assessing the theoretical progress of research programs, rather than on puzzles as motivations for new research e.

Vasquez, ; Elman and Elman, While being informed by discussions in the former literature, this article is concerned with the latter issue.

The discussion above implies that a new explanation or theory can only be justified if it is seen as different from, and possibly opposed to, established knowledge.

Without such differentiation, there is no way of determining whether it illuminates things better than previous research. The detection of unexpected difference — of tensions in the empirics or how they are interpreted — indicates the need for new research. We have the same desire when we read detective stories. The mere fact that a murder has taken place is usually insufficient; the impetus to continue reading is instead provided by complicating factors.

There is not just a corpse, but circumstances that make the murder seem truly puzzling. A detective story where the murderer is precisely the person who appeared guilty at the outset, by contrast, is not worth reading.

Academic texts are no different; if they merely confirm what influential theories have long argued, they will make only limited contributions. Since new research is only new in relation to the old, this is also a useful way of deciding what to do new research on. Entering into critical dialogue with existing research can shed new light on theories and empirical phenomena alike. It might be argued that the devastation and suffering brought about by wars at least makes the question implicitly puzzling.

We are also eager to know why wars break out, hoping such enhanced understanding might help prevent future wars. However, since this argument depends on what is considered important in a particular society at a certain point in time, it is again a potentially status quo-oriented knowledge interest.

Creating a research puzzle, by contrast, necessitates making an inventory of previous research on the outbreak of wars, and problematizing parts of its assumptions or findings.Explicate the motives and preconceptions underlying your interest in an issue 3.

Alternative calibration decisions are certainly possible. Vasquez, ; Elman and Elman, Jean Grugel. Table of contents Introduction; G. Norman Blaikie defines a social problem as a state of affairs in society which policymakers, pundits and sociologists deem inadequate, and therefore in need of attention or a solution.