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.

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.

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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. 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. 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.

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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.

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.

Theory and Methods in Political Science

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.

Keohane and Nye, ; Russett, The clear link to existing research makes the original question truly puzzling. A way of dealing with such a situation is to think more broadly, either theoretically or empirically.

It may be possible, for example, to contextualize an issue by discussing what it is a case of, or how influential theories might tackle it. There may be no previous research on a certain war, but there are plenty of studies on other wars, and theories about the general phenomenon.

Moreover, theories not usually applied to wars could also help provide new insights. We can problematize not only approaches that we disagree with, but also ones that we are largely sympathetic to.

Less thorough problematization involves demonstrating that parts of an explanation or theory are problematic, despite being valuable in other respects. More ambitious problematization may challenge the ontological or epistemological assumptions on which previous research is premised.

A case in point is research raising the question of how to recognize a phenomenon when we see it. Such studies focus on key variables in an academic literature that are insufficiently substantiated or taken for granted, and can demonstrate that influential explanations rest on shaky ground.

For instance, power transition is one explanation for why wars occur Organski and Kugler, , but due to conceptual complexities associated with the concept of power one could infer that power transitions are more difficult to spot than previous research admits Chan, Despite such shakiness in the independent variable or explanans, scholars often continue to do research that takes the veracity of the explanation for granted.

Similarly, a study can challenge influential ideas about what should be explained — the dependent variable or explanandum Shapiro, : — Problematization is thus a way to construct puzzles premised on the question why previous research treats key variables as unproblematic, despite lingering problems related to conceptualization, measurement or interpretation.

Some assumptions are specific to one theory, while others are shared by several — even seemingly opposing — theories or entire paradigms. Research that challenges widespread conventions can completely overturn the basis for what might previously have seemed like a debate between conflicting positions Alvesson and Sandberg, The more extensive or influential the problematized research, the greater its potential contribution.

Finally, we believe scholars must continue to problematize and reflect critically not only on previous research, but also on their own assumptions, concepts, theories, methods and conclusions.

Since analysis, and the choices it is premised on always serves some interests, the distinction between political problems and political science puzzles may appear to get blurred.

Indeed, by making knowledge claims, research inevitably projects power Ackerly and True, ; Dauphinee, However, acknowledging the inevitably political nature of research is not equivalent to saying that political problems are sufficient motivation. It is rather a reminder that problematization must be premised on continued reflexivity e.

Amoureux and Steele, Abduction Our experience is that graduate students and scholars take interest in phenomena and ask questions for very good reasons, but often fail to justify new research in a way that is sufficiently persuasive to others. Therefore, we believe it is useful to articulate an explicit research puzzle as early as possible in the research process Rosenau, : Using problematization as a strategy helps justifying why an issue one has already decided to analyse deserves attention, but more fundamentally it helps improving the initial questions and alternative interpretations that one might bring to the table.

Once established, the puzzle provides both a rationale and direction for the research process. The choices of aim, research questions, theory and, to some extent, methods and materials all tend to follow. In our experience, the careful construction of a research puzzle amounts to about half the job, especially when writing a thesis or journal article.

Sufficient time should thus be allocated to it. Conversely, the absence of a research puzzle risks inviting inconsistencies into the research, some of which may be irreconcilable. There is some truth in the allegation. Yet, it is highly unlikely that scholars undertake an investigation completely inductively, without being guided by any prior assumptions or preconceptions.

Since data are always theory dependent Kuhn, , any investigation is inevitably characterized by a degree of deduction. Having said that, most scholars arguably also engage in continuous inductive reflection, often even before realizing that a research process has begun. Since some ideas antedate each investigation, they should be articulated as early as possible.

Although it has become associated with the context of justification, for Peirce and others abduction pertains more closely to the context of discovery, where hypotheses — and research puzzles — are formulated cf.

Hanson, : The researcher seeks to conceptualize a plausible interpretation that can cast light on a specific case, but then moves on to inquire whether the interpretation can be extended to other cases. This shows how closely entwined the formulation of the research puzzle is with the actual investigation, and why the puzzle must be continually honed as the inquiry progresses.

From topic to research puzzle: power shift in East Asia This section puts our advice to use by demonstrating how to develop a vague idea into a research puzzle. Our example takes the form of a dialogue between person A, perhaps a graduate student, and person B, possibly a supervisor.

Katzenstein, Cornell University, USA 'An excellent introduction to theory and methods in which a distinguished group of scholars present and discuss eight theoretical approaches and seven methods for addressing key questions in Political Science. It will be valuable for both graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty who want to gain a broad overview of contemporary Political Science and its historical roots.

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Theory and Methods in Political Science; Fourth Edition (PDF)

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Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item. Theory and methods in political science Author: David Marsh ; Gerry Stoker Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Now with substantial extra coverage of methodological issues and an additional chapter on the philosophy of politics, this widely-used text introduces students to the approaches and methods of political science. Show all links. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private.

Political Science Methodology

Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this itemPinpoint a research puzzle early in the research process, but be prepared to find other potentially more significant problems — possibly at higher levels of abstraction — as your knowledge expands A: I want to do research on the East Asian power shift. We argue below that such assumptions should be scrutinized and problematized as far as possible. The E-mail Address es field is required. A gap in previous research is a necessary, but insufficient, argument for new research 8.

B: Not yet. Johnston Chapter 16 considers three dimensions for data collection: Janet M. Gerring Chapter 28 provides some guidance by cataloging nine different techniques for case selection: Less thorough problematization involves demonstrating that parts of an explanation or theory are problematic, despite being valuable in other respects.