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Mill’s Method of Agreement and Method of Difference as Methods of Analysis in International Relations  

Payam Ghalehdar

John Stuart Mill’s Method of Agreement and Method of Difference have been well known both in international relations (IR) scholarship and methods discussions. Despite numerous methodological innovations since the publication of Mill’s A System of Logic in 1843, the persuasive logic and intuitive appeal of the Method of Agreement and the Method of Difference have allowed them to remain a staple in IR scholarship. The utility of Mill’s methods, however, has not gone unquestioned. Claims persist that the two methods are not suitable for social science research because their requirements are too demanding. Sustained criticism of Mill’s methods requires a sober look at their promise and potential to facilitate causal inference. Cautionary notes necessitate awareness of the logic of Mill’s comparative methods, their underlying assumptions, and remedies for potential pitfalls and weaknesses. Three underlying assumptions are associated with Mill’s methods—determinism, the inclusion of all causally relevant causes, and the independence of cases. Three core criticisms have been leveled at Mill’s methods: the inability to deal with equifinality, the narrow focus on single causes, and the purported incompatibility with observational research. Causal inference in observational settings can be strengthened by dealing with interaction effects, by specifying causal connections as correlational or set-relational, by supplementing the use of Mill’s methods with within-case procedures like process tracing, and by using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) as a similar yet more complete comparative method.

Article

200 Years of International Relations in Brazil: Issues, Theories, and Methods  

Dawisson Belém Lopes, João Paulo Nicolini, and Thales Carvalho

The Brazilian field of international relations (IRs) has evolved over the course of two centuries. Since Brazil’s independence in 1822, international topics have deserved attention from local practitioners and scholars. The emergence of Brazilian standpoints about international affairs and of a Brazilian IR scholarship developed after the consolidation of similar fields in other Western countries. Multiple schools of thought held sway over local understandings, thereby leading to the formation of a different field as compared to characteristics of the Anglo-American mainstream. The institutionalization of the area has come about through the creation of scholarly departments and national government agencies. It all led to a unique combination of methods, theories, and issues being currently explored in the Brazilian branch of IR scholarship.

Article

The Interaction of Theory and Data  

James D. Morrow

Theory shapes how data is collected and analyzed in at least three ways. Theoretical concepts inform how we collect data because data attempt to capture and reflect those concepts. Theory provides testable hypotheses that direct our research. Theory also helps us draw conclusions from the results of empirical research. Meanwhile, research using quantitative methods seeks to be rigorous and reproducible. Mathematical models develop the logic of a theory carefully, while statistical methods help us judge whether the evidence matches the expectations of our theories. Quantitative scholars tend to specialize in one approach or the other. The interaction of theory and data for them thus concerns how models and statistical analysis draw on and respond to one another. In the abstract, they work together seamlessly to advance scientific understanding. In practice, however, there are many places and ways this abstract process can stumble. These difficulties are not unique to rigorous methods; they confront any attempt to reconcile causal arguments with reality. Rigorous methods help by making the issues clear and forcing us to confront them. Furthermore, these methods do not ensure arguments or empirical judgments are correct; they only make it easier for us to agree among ourselves when they do.

Article

Teaching Global Development Studies  

Michael Kuchinsky

Several resources are available for teaching global development. Textbooks, for instance, often follow models reminiscent of comparative politics textbooks. In them, space is accorded to the general history of development and the self-determination movements following World War II, a discussion of different theoretical perspectives on development, followed by country case studies or sectoral issues. Other textbooks may choose more regional approaches to analyze development, critical of state-based development theory and practices and who see regional development models as correctives of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Still others use cross-cutting themes of global development and political economy as their intellectual “infrastructure”, augmented by historical and cultural research across global regions, with concerns about gender, household level development, and non-state actors as stakeholders. Other resources include resources include numerous professional and academic journals devoted to development and development studies, including the Journal of International Development, the Third World Quarterly, and Development and Change. Among nonacademic resources are nongovernmental organizations, international and multilateral organizations, and policy “think tanks” that produce development programming, data, and analysis. Interactive methods, media, and educational resources are also recommended for teaching of global development. Teaching with interactive methods promotes more student directed learning, assists in developing critical thinking, encourages communication and analysis skills, helps to personalize abstract material, and bridges gaps between theoretical material and real circumstances.

Article

Critical Scholarship on Terrorism  

Priya Dixit

Understandings of “critical” in critical scholarship on terrorism range from a Frankfurt School–influenced definition to a broader definition that aims to interrogate commonsense understandings of terrorism and counterterrorism. Overall, critical scholarship on terrorism draws on multiple disciplines and methodological traditions to analyze terrorism and counterterrorism. Within these, there have been ongoing debates and discussions about whether the state should be included in research on terrorism and, if so, what the inclusion of the state would do for the understanding of terrorism. Critical scholarship has also outlined the need for further attention to research ethics, as well as urged researchers to acknowledge their standpoints when conducting and communicating research. Some, but not all, critical scholarship has a normative orientation with the goal of emancipation, though the meaning of emancipation remains debated. Methodologically, the majority of critical scholarship on terrorism utilizes an interpretive lens to analyze terrorism and related issues. A central goal of critical terrorism research is to rework power relations such that Global South subjectivities are centered on research. This means including research conducted by Global South scholars and also centering Global South peoples and concerns in analyses of terrorism and counterterrorism. The role of gender, analytically and in practice, in relation to terrorism is also a key part of critical scholarship. Critical scholars of terrorism have observed that race is absent from much of terrorism scholarship, and there needs to be ongoing work toward addressing this imbalance. Media and popular culture, and their depiction of terrorism and counterterrorism, form another key strand in critical scholarship on terrorism. Overall, critical scholarship on terrorism is about scrutinizing and dismantling power structures that sustain commonsense knowledge regarding terrorism.

Article

Genders, Spaces, Places  

Lynne Phillips

The concepts of gender, space, and place have significant social and political implications for the kind of world that people inhabit and the kinds of lives we can lead. That there has been a transformation in thinking about these concepts is indicated in references today to pluralized (and polymorphic) spaces, to the waxing, and waning of distinctions between space and place, and to the idea that gender, space, and place are something produced rather than simply lived in, or ventured into. These subtle shifts hint at a complex history of ideas about what constitutes gender, space, and/or place and how we might understand the connections and disjunctures between and among them. The theoretical roots of space act as the starting point for discussion, since these have a longer historical record than work which also explicitly includes gender. Western conceptions of space have drawn primarily from early Greek philosophers and mathematicians, and these conceptions indicate an early distinction between a philosophy of space and a pre-scientific notion of space. From here, the development of feminist methods has become essential for revealing how spatial thinking informs ideas about gender. These methods include deconstructing canons, asking the profoundly spatial question of “Where are the women?” and “ungendering” space. These methodological strategies reveal the extent to which the central concerns of feminism today have spatial and place-based dimensions.

Article

Teaching International Political Sociology  

Vincent Pouliot

Teaching international political sociology (IPS) is intellectually rewarding yet pedagogically challenging. In the conventional International Relations (IR) curriculum, IPS students have to set aside many of the premises, notions, and models they learned in introductory classes, such as assumptions of instrumental rationality and canonical standards of positivist methodology. Once problematized, these traditional starting points in IR are replaced with a number of new dispositions, some of which are counterintuitive, that allow students to take a fresh look at world politics. In the process, IPS opens many more questions than it provides clear-cut answers, making the approach look very destabilizing for students. The objective of teaching IPS is to sow the seeds of three key dispositions inside students’ minds. First, students must appreciate the fact that social life consists primarily of relations that make the whole bigger than the parts. Second, they must be aware that social action is infused with meanings upon which both cooperative and conflictual relations hinge. Third, they have to develop a degree of reflexivity in order to realize that social science is a social practice just like others, where agents enter in various relations and struggle over the meanings of the world. There are four primary methods of teaching IPS, each with its own merits and limits: induction, ontology, historiography, and classics.

Article

Teaching the Scientific Study of International Processes  

D. Scott Bennett

The Scientific Study of International Processes (SSIP) is an approach aimed at teaching of international politics scientifically. Teaching scientifically means teaching students how to use evidence to support or disprove some particular logical argument or hypothesis that reaches some level of generalization about relationships between concepts. Closely related to simply asking what evidence there is, is teaching students to address the breadth, depth, and quality of that evidence. The scientific approach may also draw attention to the logic of arguments and policies. Are policies, positions, and the arguments behind them logical? Or is some policy or position based on assumptions that are not logically related, or only true if certain auxiliary assumptions hold true? Teaching methods for SSIP include comparative case studies, experiments and surveys, data sets, and game theory and simulation. Instructors also face several challenges when seeking to teach scientifically, and in particular when they try to make time to teach methodology as part of an international politics course. Some problems are relatively easily overcome just by focusing on effective teaching. Other are unique to SSIP and cannot be dealt with quite so easily. Among these are the need to appeal to a broad audience, and dealing with students' negative reactions to the term “science” and the constraint of finite time in a course.

Article

Quantitative Human Rights  

Amanda M. Murdie and K. Anne Watson

Quantitative human rights scholarship is increasing. New data sets and methods have helped researchers examine a broad array of research questions concerning the many human rights laid out in the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related documents. These innovations have enabled quantitative human rights scholarship to better connect to existing qualitative and theoretical literatures and have improved advocacy efforts. Quantitative scholars have primarily operationalized the concept of human rights through the use of four kinds of data: events data (such as counts of abuses or attacks), standards-based data (such as coded scores), survey data, and socioeconomic statistics (such as maternal mortality or malnutrition rates). Each type of data poses particular challenges and weaknesses for analyses, including the biased undercounts of events data and the potential for human error or biases in survey or standards-based data. The human rights field has also seen a systematic overrepresentation of analyses of physical integrity rights, which have fewer component parts to measure. Furthermore, qualitative scholars have pointed out that it is difficult for quantitative data to capture the process of human rights improvement over time. The creation of new technologies and methodologies has allowed quantitative researchers to lessen the impact of these data weaknesses: Latent variables allow scholars to create aggregate measures from a variety of classes of quantitative data, as well as understandings from qualitative scholars, leading to the creation of new measures for rights other than physical integrity rights. New machine learning techniques and algorithms are giving scholars access to greater amounts of data than ever before, improving event counts. Expert surveys are pulling new voices into the data-generating process and incorporating practitioners into data processes that are too often restricted to academics. Experimental studies are furthering the field’s understanding of the processes underlying advocacy. Drawing on the lessons of past work, future scholars can use quantitative methods to improve the field’s theoretical and practical understandings of human rights.

Article

Intelligence Analysis: Once Again  

Charles A. Mangio and Bonnie J. Wilkinson

Intelligence analysis is defined as analysis carried out by intelligence organizations. The essence of intelligence analysis is determining the meaning of information to develop knowledge and understanding. The meaning derived from the analysis is used to address many different types of questions, which are categorized in variety of ways. A general classification of the questions, sometimes described as types of intelligence or analysis, includes strategic intelligence. The seminal publication for describing and explaining the processes and attributes of strategic intelligence is Sherman Kent’s 1949 book, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. The intelligence literature acknowledges that determining meaning is influenced by the analyst’s mindset, mental model, or frame of mind. A variety of factors influence mental models, including context and purpose, past experience, education, cultural values, role requirements, organizational norms and the specifics of the information received. A recurring theme in intelligence literature is the use of scientific methods in intelligence analysis and the discussion of the analytic process in terms of scientific methods. Key elements of the analysis processes include hypotheses, information research, and the marshaling of evidence, and how they affect the determination of meaning. Intelligence research also emphasizes the importance of rigor in analytic thinking. Despite the accumulation of a substantial amount of scholarly work on intelligence since the 1940s and 1950s, the literature has not advanced on the core aspect of determining meaning from information to address the full range of complexities in intelligence analysis.

Article

Feminist Ontologies, Epistemologies, Methodologies, and Methods in International Relations  

Jennifer Heeg Maruska

Feminism operates on various feminist epistemologies, methodologies, and methods. While there is no consensus on how to organize or label these, there are a few generalities that can be drawn between these epistemologies, particularly in the international relations (IR) context. Classifying these epistemologies generally under the umbrella (or in the constellation) of postpositivism makes clear the contrasts between positivist social science and more critical approaches. Moreover, within the many critical approaches in feminist IR are many points of convergence and divergence. Feminist IR theory also focuses on the complexities of gender as a social and relational construction, in contrast to how nonfeminist ontologies focus on the rights of women, but including those of children and men as well. Hence, the postpositivist ontology takes on a more complex meaning. Rather than trying to uncover “how things really are,” postpositivists study how social realities (the Westphalian system, international migration or trafficking, or even modern war) came to be, and also how these realities came to be understood as norms, institutions, or social facts—often examining the gendered underpinnings of each. Most feminist IR theorists (and IR constructivists) share an “ontology of becoming” where the focus is on the intersubjective process of norm evolution.

Article

Teaching International Relations Theory  

Craig Douglas Albert

International relations (IR) theory is favorably described in almost every syllabus since 1930. The most important questions asked were: “What is theory?” and “Is there a reason for IR theory?” The most widely used texts all focus on the first question and suggest, among others, that IR theory is “a way of making the world or some part of it more intelligible or better understood.” We can gauge where the teaching of IR theory is today by analyzing a sample of syllabi from IR scholars serving on the Advisory Board of the International Studies Association’s (ISA) Compendium Project. These syllabi reveal some trends. Within the eight undergraduate syllabi, for example, a general introduction to IR theory is taught in four separate classes. Among the theories discussed in different classes are realism, classical realism, neo-realism, Marxism and neo-Marxism, world-systems theory, imperialism, constructivism, and international political economy. Novel methods for teaching IR theory include the use of films, active learning, and experiential learning. The diversity of treatments of IR theory implied by the ISA syllabi provides evidence that, with the exception of the proliferation of perspectives, relatively little has changed since the debates of the late 1930s. The discipline lacks much semblance of unity regarding whether, and how, to offer IR theory to students. Nevertheless, there have been improvements that are likely to continue in terms of the ways in which theories may be presented.

Article

The Past and Future of the Scientific Study of International Processes  

Zeev Maoz

The scientific study of international processes (SSIP) has made substantial progress over the past twenty years, establishing itself as the mainstream research community in the field of international relations (IR) and attracting more and more attention from other disciplines. This was due to the convergence of several revolutions that have taken place in the field, including the data revolution, the formal modeling revolution, the methods revolution, the substantive revolution, and the epistemological revolution. In addition to the dramatic increase in the number of the community of scholars who use scientific logic, systematic methods, and empirical data to study IR, there was a significant improvement in the quality of research. This research has yielded important contributions to our understanding of international processes. Some of these contributions went far beyond the field; they have attracted the attention of policy makers as well as quite a few scholars from other disciplines. Some of the key findings that emerged from this research have become—correctly or incorrectly—a key component of the discourse of political leaders. Growing data availability, increased methodological sophistication, and greater scientific discipline within the profession have converged to open new research frontiers, but important challenges remain, such as the disconnect between theory and empirical tests that exists in many cases, and the almost exclusive reliance on the dyadic level of analysis. It is important to make our understanding of international processes translated into broader policy implications.

Article

Pedagogy and Foreign Policy Analysis  

Marijke Breuning

Pedagogical objectives and educational outcomes play a significant role in foreign policy analysis. The actor-centered approach of foreign policy analysis gives students the unique opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of decision makers and to understand the different constraints, both domestic and international, that influence the policies adopted by decision makers. In other words, foreign policy analysis can have two functions: to teach students about the processes by which foreign policy is made, or the substance of the foreign policies of various countries, and to enhance students’ ability to imagine the perspectives of others. Whether foreign policy analysis does, in fact, manage to develop this ability is an empirical question that also depends on the course emphasis and pedagogies employed. In this sense, pedagogy does not only mean excellent teaching, but also systematic investigation of teaching methods and techniques, student learning outcomes, educational assessment, and curriculum development. The literature on foreign policy analysis, pedagogy, and curriculum emphasizes active learning strategies and the need for clearly articulated learning objectives for the curriculum as a whole and the place of specific courses within it. Examples of active learning pedagogies are case teaching, simulations, and problem-based learning. Despite some very worthwhile research that has been done, there are still some gaps that need to be addressed. One is the lack of empirical work that helps evaluate the merits of the various teaching strategies in foreign policy analysis, and another is the inconsistent findings produced by the empirical studies that do exist.