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Putting Typologies to Work: Concept Formation, Measurement, and Analytic Rigor

Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2, June 2012

26 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2011 Last revised: 26 Mar 2016

David Collier

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science

Jody LaPorte

University of Oxford - Department of Politics and International Relations

Jason Seawright

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 1, 2011

Abstract

Typologies are a well-established analytic tool in the social sciences. Working with typologies contributes decisively to forming concepts, exploring dimensionality, establishing measurement categories, and grouping cases. Yet some critics – basing their arguments on what they believe to be relevant norms of quantitative measurement – consider typologies to be an old-fashioned and unsophisticated mode of analysis. We show that this critique is methodologically unsound. The use of typologies can and should proceed according to high standards of rigor. We offer a basic template for constructing typologies and show how they can be “put to work” in refining concepts and measurement, examining underlying dimensions, and organizing explanatory claims and causal inference. The conclusion presents guidelines for careful work with typologies.

Suggested Citation

Collier, David and LaPorte, Jody and Seawright, Jason, Putting Typologies to Work: Concept Formation, Measurement, and Analytic Rigor (January 1, 2011). Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2, June 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1735695

David Collier (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Jody LaPorte

University of Oxford - Department of Politics and International Relations ( email )

Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Jason Seawright

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Scott Hall
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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