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2021 Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Politics and Gender

Comparative Area Studies: Methodological Rationales and Empirical Applications

Comparative Politics
Comparative Perspective
Political Regime
Section Number
Section Chair
Patrick Köllner
German Institute of Global And Area Studies
Section Co-Chair
Jürgen Rüland
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

This Section is motivated by two fundamental convictions. First, sustained qualitative research on particular regions of the world remains indispensable for political science, both as a way to expand our fount of observations and as a source of new theoretical ideas. Second, this research remains at risk of being marginalised without concerted efforts to incorporate it into comparative frameworks intended to explore the potential relevance of regional contextual attributes.

We argue that Comparative Area Studies (CAS) constitutes a promising new approach that can help to bridge political science and area studies. CAS refers to a broad approach consisting of any self-conscious effort to do two things: (i) balance unit context sensitivity with the use of some variant of the comparative method to surface causal linkages that are portable across world regions; and (ii) simultaneously engage ongoing research and scholarly discourse in two or more area studies communities against the backdrop of more general concepts and theoretical debates within political science (and other social sciences). While CAS is motivated by general questions that bear on cases from different areas, it calls for qualitative comparisons that value and engage ongoing research and scholarly discourse within area studies communities.

Introductory Panels in this Section will discuss the rationales and potential pitfalls of CAS and highlight its connections to a global approach to scholarship. Panels will present current intra-, inter- and in particular cross-regional comparative research on political phenomena and processes in different issue areas, highlighting a range of empirical applications where the CAS approach has been fruitfully leveraged to yield distinctive insights that neither traditional area studies nor large-N or formal approaches are designed to deliver.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P004A Global Approach to Comparative Area Studies and International Relations Scholarship: What to Expect and How to Proceed View Panel Details
P022Authoritarian Diffusion and Learning: A Cross-Regional Perspective View Panel Details
P069Comparative Area Studies: What It Is and What It Brings to the Table View Panel Details
P111Democratic Regression in Comparative Perspective View Panel Details
P266Migration Policies: Comparing the Regulation of Mobility Across Regions View Panel Details
P379Regional Powers: Revisiting a Cross-Regional Comparative Research Agenda View Panel Details
P411Security Sector Reform – No One Size Fits All View Panel Details
P510Varieties of Origins and Survival in Asian Autocracies: A Multi-Method Analysis View Panel Details
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