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
Date Written: January 1, 2011
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.
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