INSNA members

Sorry for x-posting.

Especially session 2 is interesting for social network analysts.

For more info, you can contact me. We (Hans, discussant session 2, and I) will also be present in Cancun next month.
Axel Marx

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Faculteit Sociale Wetenschappen / Faculty of Social Sciences
Departement Sociologie / Department of Sociology
E. Van Evenstraat 2b
3000 Leuven

tel: ++32-16-32.31.72
fax: ++32-16-32.33.65
[log in to unmask]

- to be circulated [NB : this call closes on 1 March 2003] -

Within the framework of the ECPR Conference, Marburg (Germany), 18-21 Sept. 2003 :

Section nr. 6 : Methodological Advances in Comparative Research : Concepts, Techniques, Applications

Nine panels :

1. Process Tracing and Analytic Narratives in Comparative Research
Chair : Jonathon MOSES, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
Discussant : Erik JONES, Johns Hopkins Bologna Center, Italy
This panel aims to encourage a discussion about the different approaches and technologies used to develop comparative narratives.  Papers that employ process tracing, event structure analysis (ESA), and so-called analytical narrative approaches will be encouraged. Papers that explicitly engage the methodological discussion will be prioritised.

2. Combining Social Network Analysis and a Comparative Case Approach: Towards Cross-fertilization
Chair : Axel MARX, K.U. Leuven, Belgium
Discussant : Hans VERHOEVEN, K.U. Leuven, Belgium
Social network analysis and theory has recently gained prominence in social scientific research. Many social network analysts use a variable-oriented research approach. This panel will examine the possible contribution of a multiple comparative case approach ('thicker' information, configurational logic, etc.) to network analysis and theory. Papers that integrate network methods and theory with a multiple comparative case design and analysis (e.g. QCA or fs/QCA) will be prioritised.

3. The Potential of Qualitative Methods in “Small N” Situations: Dealing with the Tension between the Number of Cases and In-depth Investigation
Chair : Algis KRUPAVICIUS, Kaunas U.T., Lithuania
Discussant : Tor MIDTBO, Univ. Bergen, Norway
In comparative research, one is often confronted with a tension between the number of cases and the “in-depth” understanding of each individual case. How many cases can be studied in an in-depth manner? What does one mean by “in-depth” investigation? Papers that explicitly treat this tension, from a methodological and/or empirical perspective, will be prioritised.

4. Systematic Qualitative Comparisons in Comparative Research
Chair : Steffen GANGHOF, MPIfG Köln, Germany
Discussant : Daniele CARAMANI, U. of Mannheim, Germany
This panel focuses on the role of comparison in comparative case study research. Small-N Comparison (and thus control) increases the researcher's leverage on the research question, but only moderately. Research design and case selection are therefore dependent on the kind of (causal) questions asked in qualitative analysis. If the goal is to develop complex explanations for specific puzzles, the role of comparison may be to control for broad background factors; if the goal is to explore a particular causal pattern, comparison may help to isolate this pattern. The panel focuses on this interaction of research questions and research design.

5. QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) in Comparative Research: Applications
Chair : Benoît RIHOUX, U.C. Louvain, Belgium
Discussant : Claudius WAGEMANN, EUI, Firenze, Italy
Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), an approach and technique (and software) developed from the mid-1980’s onwards, is now being increasingly used, particularly in political science. This panel will focus on original QCA applications, in different sub-fields of political science. Papers that explore the range of different uses of QCA (theory testing, typology, description, theory development, hypothesis testing, etc.) and that exploit the full potential of the (fs/)QCA software will be prioritized.

6. Fuzzy sets in Comparative Research: Applications
Chair : Paul PENNINGS, V.U. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Discussant : Charles C. RAGIN, U. of Arizona, USA
Almost all verbal theory is formulated in terms of set-theoretic relations and almost all social science concepts can be usefully formulated as fuzzy sets. The goal of this panel is to discuss ways in which fuzzy sets can be used to study social and political phenomena as a matter of degree instead of fixed types. Furthermore, the pros and cons of the fuzzy-set logic are discussed since the potential of fuzzy sets can only be materialized when one is aware of
the main topics that surround the application of this new method.

7. Potential and Limits of QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) and Fuzzy Sets for Comparative Politics: Methodological Issues
Chair : Gisèle DE MEUR, U.L.Brussels, Belgium
Discussant : Charles C. RAGIN, U. of Arizona, USA
What are the respective qualities and limits of the “fuzzy sets” versus the “crisp sets”, i.e. the dichotomous logic of QCA? Is it so that fuzzy sets constitute an “improvement” of QCA ? Or, conversely, does QCA display some distinctive qualities that are not matched by fuzzy sets ? Papers that explicitly compare QCA and fuzzy sets, from a methodological and/or empirical perspective, will be prioritised.

8. The Potential of Statistical Methods in “Small N” Situations: Can “Robust Statistics” help in Comparative Research ?
Chair : Bruno CAUTRES, I.E.P. Grenoble, France
Discussant : Dirk BERG-SCHLOSSER (Marburg, Germany)
Mainstream statistical tools encounter major problems in small N situations. “Robust statistics” corresponds to a broad range of techniques that are intended to treat “small N” situations. What is the potential of these techniques in political science ? Do they bring added value to other techniques, such as QCA and Fuzzy sets (among others) ? Papers that explicitly discuss specific robust statistics techniques (such as repeated sampling in regression analysis, loglinear methods, etc.) and applications to actual research data will be prioritised.

9. Potential and Limits of Time-series Cross-section Analysis in Comparative Research
Chair : Bernhard KITTEL, GSSS, University of Bremen, Germany
Discussant : Steffen GANGHOF, MPIfG Köln, Germany
The panel is intended to critically examine the usefulness of panel data methods for comparative research designs and to explore promising areas of application. In particular, papers exploiting more recent advances in panel econometrics  e.g., dynamic panel methods, error correction models and cointegration  but reflecting their application to the comparative perspective in political science are encouraged.

NB :
- this call for papers closes on 1 March 2003
- paper proposals : to be sent to the corresponding panel chairs (e-mail addresses : see ; click on the corresponding panel title)
- conference registration begins on 15 January 2003


The conference will also host a Roundtable on "Controversies and Advances in Comparative Methodology" , featuring (among others) : Prof. Dirk BERG-SCHLOSSER, University of Marburg; Prof. Bruno CAUTRÈS, University of Grenoble; Prof. David COLLIER, University of California, Berkeley; Prof. Charles RAGIN, University of Arizona.


For comprehensive information and practical guidelines, pls go to :

- ECPR Marburg Conference page :
- Section nr. 6 page :

Some information is also available on the International small N resource site ("news" section) :