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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Comparisons Across World Regions: Managing Conceptual, Methodological, and Practical Challenges

Comparative Politics
Latin America
Comparative Perspective
Christian Von Soest
German Institute of Global And Area Studies
Christian Von Soest
German Institute of Global And Area Studies
Alexander Stroh
University of Bayreuth

Scholars often pay insufficient attention to bridging the research divide between different world regions. We argue that structured qualitative comparisons across world regions offer a sound middle ground for the integration of universal approaches and context knowledge. The paper puts forward suggestions about how to deal with challenges in cross-area comparisons at the conceptual, methodological, and practical level. First, scholars should integrate region-centered academic discourses to foster conceptual advancement and empirical research, thereby overcoming the restricted horizons of specific knowledge communities. Second, systematic research designs and case-selection criteria should be aligned with area awareness to reap the benefits of cross-regional CAS. Third, our notion of “applied CAS” implies that practical considerations for successful comparative research must be understood as an important constituent of any successful research strategy. Cross-area comparisons are indispensable if social science aims to provide truly universal explanations in touch with the diverse realities of a globalized world.
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