Study your flashcards anywhere!

Download the official Cram app for free >

  • Shuffle
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Alphabetize
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Front First
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Both Sides
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Read
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off

How to study your flashcards.

Right/Left arrow keys: Navigate between flashcards.right arrow keyleft arrow key

Up/Down arrow keys: Flip the card between the front and back.down keyup key

H key: Show hint (3rd side).h key

A key: Read text to speech.a key


Play button


Play button




Click to flip

54 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
What knowledge is important and what is not?
Philosophy considering the base and scope of knowledge; how do we know what we know?
We can apply the same approach to the social world as we do to the natural world; define, describe, explain, predict, prescribe.
Challenging prevailing theories and developing new ones lead to a form of creative destruction by which we have a reigning theory and explanation that holds up as long as it remains valid. But the more it’s challenged successfully or amended or changed, the less likely that the theory holds up for very long.
Empirical analysis
The ideal is to be value neutral understanding of phenomena; centered on facts- seeks to discover, describe and explain facts and factual relations to the extent that those facts are knowable.
Concept traveling
A concept that can be utilized in other cases or for the creation of other generalizations or in other experiments. i.e. If we define a term “War” or “democracy," can we use that concept to explain other phenomena?
Concept stretching
Abusing a concept by redefining it; stretching a concept to meet our needs. Consider, for instance, the danger of using terrorism too broadly.
Level of abstraction
Determines, to some extent, our ability to make causal arguments as well as our capacity to engage in more deterministic or probabilistic analysis.
Moving up the ladder of abstraction, towards more general terms, may allow us to speak broadly about a phenomena but at such an abstract level that we have limited ability to discuss a specific case. Likewise, a low level of abstraction might reduce us to engaging only in very concrete and specific cases. (Landsman)
We might argue that while institutions share certain characteristics- (1) They are shared among individuals (2) They communicate expectations and values; (3) They frequently involve some sort of sanction or coercion to those who violate the rules; (4) They allow individuals to make strategic calculations making long-term plans viable. SOCIAL CREATIONS, NOT STATIC
Formal institutions
Stabilized, normally through the rule of law or by coercive sanction, and as such are created in part due to relationship of power that exists within a society. As such, the creation of formal institutions within a democracy would be different from that of a monarchy or dictatorship in part because the relationship of power may differ. Once formalized, such institutions may continue to shape the strategic interactions of individuals for sustained period, even after the logic or reasons for the creation of such rules no longer abides.
Informal institutions
Exist in society as shared norms and values and do many of the same things that more structured or stabilized institutions do. May change as society changes. The notion of Honor, for example, may change over time or by society. Therefore they may more broadly reflect social arrangements or norms.
Thick description
The process of a deeply qualitative case study of why a certain event occurs. For example the rise of Hitler’s Germany or the origins of the Second World War, might allow us to know something more about the rise of fascism or international major war. Implicitly it is comparable. But on its own, our understanding might not allow us to make prediction and to develop some sort of generalizable explanation. Rather, we need to compare. As such the facts that led to the rise of Nazis might not account for the rise of Fascists in Italy, Spain or elsewhere.
Generally this relates to abstract arguments that seek to explain a political phenomena. One could develop a theory about a particular case. For example, “why are the Turks raising a fuss about France’s recent law recognizing the Armenian Genocide and making it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide.”
Something that can vary or change. That is, it can take different forms or be a changeable characteristic of phenomena. These might include types of dictatorships or democracies perhaps. A variable is a measurable phenomena that changes across time and space.
Dependent variables
Usually the outcomes that we seek to explain or examine. They are normally the outcome that is influenced or caused by another variable or group of variables. It is this variable that is often the one whose value changes in response to changes of other variables.
Independent variables
The factor or characteristic that influences or causes the dependent variable. In a cause-effect relationship it is the causal or explanatory variable.
Intermediary variables
Some variable that interacts with the independent variable in such a way that it impacts the outcome/dependent variable. That said, if we identify intermediary or intervening variables as important, this may raise a second question- perhaps it is the intermediary variable that is doing most of the work and not the independent variable.
Limits compounding variables by giving leverage over variants. Holding variables constant so that the effects of one independent variable at a time can be explained.
A correlation is an association- a relationship that suggests that variables change together. So if crime goes up, does abortion go up or down? If abortion goes up or down, does crime go up or down? Is one causing the other, or are they both being manipulated by some yet unknown third variable.
Cause-effect relationship between two variables - potential causal inferences, causal sequences or causal chains, and perhaps even causal mechanisms.
Single N (Case study)
Can provide contextual descriptions, help develop new classifications and generate new hypotheses, confirm or infirm theories, and explain deviant cases through cross national comparisons. i.e. Appropriate when elections in Kenya led to violence
Large N Study
Large set of data; often rely on inductive approaches and utilize many data points to seek out patterns. Their structure is in numbers (see generalizations) but they often lack in depth (miss rich description).
Small N Study
May rely on more deductive methods (moving from general theory and testing it on specific data points) and utilize fewer data points on more unique phenomena, and trade off on “thicker” description in lieu of more data.
Spurious correlation
When two variables seem to appear linked in a cause-and-effect relationship but, in fact, there is no causal linkage whatsoever, or they are linked indirectly by some other causative variable or variables. i.e. storks and babies
Case selection
A challenge to a small-N study in which you have a narrow number of cases to choose from where the phenomena occurs. Quite simply, there are not enough cases for a large-N study. For instance, studying the rise of fascism or communist states, or the downfall of sultanistic states, or democratic roll-back.
Selection Bias
Choosing the best cases that “fit” what you want to argue, that produce the results that you seek but might not be actually representative of the phenomena you want to study. Thus the problem is: which cases do you choose? Do you have enough cases to choose from?
Most Similar Systems Design
Consists in comparing very similar cases which only differ in the dependent variable, on the assumption that this would make it easier to find those independent variables which explain the presence/absence of the dependent variable. MSSD is very helpful because since it comparing similar objects, it keeps many otherwise confusing and irrelevant variables in the research constant. In a basic sense, MSSD starts out with similar variables between subjects and tries to figure out why the outcome is different between the subjects.
Mill's Method of Difference
Consists in comparing very different cases, all of which however have in common the same dependent variable, so that any other circumstance which is present in all the cases can be regarded as the independent variable. A more basic idea of MDSD is it takes subjects with different variables within them and tries to figure out why the outcomes between them are similar in the end.
Probablism vs. Determinism
Probablism- do we live in a world of probabilities, where some things are more likely than others? Or Determinism, some events will occur.
Agency vs. Structure
The field of political science often divides over the issue of what matters more- agency (or choice) or structure (or constraint).
Rational Choice theory
Assumes that individual choose what’s best and achieve their outcomes in the best possible way. It is an explanation of political behavior that assumes that individuals are rational beings. Within this we have a variation between people who are perfectly rational- that their preferences are rational as are their behaviors to achieve their preferred outcomes.
And that people have bounded rationality- they operate with incomplete information and time.
Game theory
Based on the notion that individuals will act rationally based on their given contexts and preferences. It is those contexts that often define what actors are rationally likely to do. Some games are zero-sum (the prisoner’s dilemma) while others may be positive sum (the stag hunt). But game theory also illustrates that rational actors, operating out of their own self-interest can create outcomes that are both individually and collectively sub-optimal.`
Psychological theories
These theories, borrowing from psychology often focus on how individual leaders think and behave. Why did they act the way they did. But they can also explore individual behavior in a variety of contexts.
Ideological hegemony
How to get others to accept your ideas and adopt them for their own.
Necessary condition
A necessary condition is one that must be present in order for some phenomena or event to occur. Without it the event cannot occur. Note that the necessary must exist, but it might not be sufficient.
Sufficient condition
A sufficient condition is one that by itself suffices for the phenomena to occur. But note sufficient conditions might not be necessary conditions. An unnecessary or insufficient condition can be ignored. Thus we can better figure out what variables matter, and which do not.
A general rule, explanations that merit the term theory have usually gained wide acceptance over long periods of time because their ability to explain the facts has been confirmed in repeated scientific explanations. Also:
(1) Abstract intellectual exercise involved in the making of generalizations about politics,
(2) A normative theory, that is value centered political philosophy,
(3) A generalization, or set of generalizations that seek to explain and perhaps predict relationships among variables.
Parsimonious theories
Political science and most social sciences like to utilize parsimonious theories that explain a vast range of phenomena in very succinct terms. For many scholars - the more parsimonious, the better. We might think of this as Occam’s rule of simple minded thinking - it's probably better to focus on accuracy than simplicity.
Mid-range theories
Much of political science is mid-range theories- that explain more limited ranges of political phenomena.
Explanatory theories
Not abstractions that are divorced from reality; on the contrary, they seek to explain reality.
Framework theories
Think of how Darwin’s Theory of Evolution or even Marxist Economics shape how we think about the world -frame a series of potential theories.
A simplified representation of reality in descriptive or abstract form. They often serve as heuristic devices.
Ideal types
A model of a political or social phenomena that describe its main characteristic features.
(1) A prime example of a particular pattern, (2) a particular way of looking at phenomena, formulating questions and generalizations, and conducting research.
(See Robin Dunbar on the problem of paradigms)
Logical Fallacies
Fallacy of composition- Assumes that the whole is exactly the same as its parts; Tautology- Ascribes causation to the very phenomena whose cause we are trying to explain; Pos hoc ergo propter hoc- Assuming that A caused B just because A preceded B. this is a problem of path dependency, as is; Inevitability fallacy- that things turn out a certain way because they necessarily had to turn out as they did; A fortioiri- assumes that what is true of a phenomena at one level or degree is automatically true of the same phenomena at large levels or degrees; False analogy- fallacy of making inappropriate or inexact analogies or comparisons; Non-falsifiable hypothesis- a hypothesis that can’t be tested isn’t good science; False inference- don’t make unwarranted inferences from statistical data or other facts when trying to establish causation; Likewise reductionism – simplifying causation to one or a few causes when others could be at play.
Hypothesis testing
Hypothesis testing often biases induction and Large-Ns. But truth is that we often do both inductive and deductive hypothesis creation and testing. How do you know what data points to collect (essential for induction) unless you have some theory shaping your thoughts?
It is possible that a phenomena may be due to more than one cause. For example, there might be multiple causes for a war to occur, or for a kleptocratic state to emerge. Does that mean we shouldn’t study it?
Historical institutionalism
Generally assumes that some event or constellation of interactions occurred at one point of time that led to a form of institutionalized relations- a policy, a government, something- that set off some kind of a stable equilibrium. This equilibrium led to a series of consequences that, in turn, reinforced that institutional relationship through positive feedback.
Path dependency
Assumes that events taken at one point in time shaped future pathways.
Critical Junctures
Antecedent conditions allow contingent choices that set a specific trajectory of institutional development and consolidation that is difficult to reverse. Essentially, something happens that stops the old institutional structure from working or leads to a period of reform to that institutional structure. i.e. wars, revolutions, economic crises
Reactive Sequences
Where a primary event sets off a temporally-linked and causally-tight deterministic chain of events that is nearly uninterruptible. For example, the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. led to welfare expansion or the industrial revolution in England with the development of the steam engine.
May utilize a system of logical deduction to reach an outcome.
Might explore the various aspects of faith and belief to obtain a different understanding of the universe- both physical and metaphysical.
Utilizes an empirical method that, in theory at least, should be objective and value neutral and is often shaped by a process of falsification.