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Sequence Analysis as a Valuable Approach for Political Elite Studies? A Methodological Critique with Two Examples from Germany

Comparative Politics
Elites
Executives
Political Methodology
Political Sociology
Courts
Methods
Sebastian Jäckle
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Sebastian Jäckle
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
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Abstract

During the last years sequence analysis has made its way from biology and sociology into political science and elite studies. The paper provides insights into the method, its peculiarities with respect to the data structure needed, and the possibilities it provides, particularly for inductive researchers trying to uncover patterns in the data. Limitations of the sequence analysis approach will also be discussed (e.g. the reliance on optimal matching procedures). As concrete examples of application, I present two studies that use data from Germany which help to clarify the prospects and limitations of the sequence analysis approach within political elite studies. The first study analyzes careers of judges at the German Federal Constitutional Court previous to their appointments to that court. The second study concentrates on ministers at the level of the German states and their follow up positions. It advances existing work on de-selection mechanisms with regard to post-ministerial careers.