Conceptual Hierarchies in Comparative Research: The Case of Democracy
CONCEPTS AND METHOD IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCE: THE TRADITION OF GIOVANNI SARTORI, David Collier, John Gerring, eds., Routledge, 2009
20 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2011
Date Written: 2009
Both kind hierarchies and part-whole hierarchies play an important role in the conceptual structure of comparative research, and understanding these hierarchies yields great insight into concept-formation. This article demonstrates the role of these two kinds of hierarchies in comparative studies of political democracies. Five patterns of conceptual innovation are identified: (1) moving down the kind hierarchy to classical subtypes of democracy and (2) moving up that hierarchy to classical subtypes of regime; (3) creating diminished subtypes within the framework of a part-whole hierarchy; (4a) shifting the overarching concept as a means of lowering the standard and, relatedly, (4b) shifting the overarching concept to raise the standard for democracy; and (5) precising the definition of democracy by adding defining attributes.
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