[ 929TAPSCORK14 ] KS Comparative Research in Social Policy

Es ist eine neuere Version 2020W dieser LV im Curriculum Master's programme Joint Master's Degree Programme in Comparative Social Policy and Welfare 2020W vorhanden.
Workload Education level Study areas Responsible person Hours per week Coordinating university
5 ECTS M1 - Master's programme 1. year Social Science Margitta M├Ątzke 2 hpw Johannes Kepler University Linz
Detailed information
Original study plan Master's programme Joint Master's Programme in Comparative Social Policy and Welfare 2014W
Objectives This class seeks to acquaint students with major concepts and approaches in comparative welfare state research. Students read some of the major programmatic and conceptual statements about the major research paradigms of comparative welfare state analysis. Then examples the most important empirical approaches in the field are examined, exploring the conceptual and methodological decisions that lie beneath these particular forms of producing knowledge about welfare state development.
In doing so, the class develops an understanding of the quality criteria applicable to theoretically-oriented empirical studies in the field of comparative welfare state research. It also explores the different components research output in the field (such as: the literature review, the theoretical argument and its justification, commentary on research design and methodology, presentation of the empirical material, and the conclusions).
The goal is to strengthen students' ability to distinguish a persuasive theoretical argument from a weak one, strong empirical support from feeble descriptive illustration, and generalization with some claim to validity from random empirical observation.
Subject The class focuses on the crucial interface between theory-building and concept formation on the one hand and (comparative) empirical inquiry on the other. It addresses the following questions: What is the rationale of theory building, concept-formation and empirical inquiry in different variants of comparative research? How do comparative welfare state researchers produce theoretical and empirical knowledge about the various welfare states? How do they arrive at generalization about welfare state development, and, how do they make the connection between theoretical arguments and empirical case studies?
Major topics:

  1. Comparative analysis as a research program: Its role in the study of social policy
  2. Typologies: Identifying "regimes", "varieties", and "patterns" as major approach to cross-sectional comparison
  3. Comparative research design and in-depth inquiry of institutional and political dynamics in case study research
  4. Inter-temporal analysis as challenge to the comparison? Major concepts in the study of institutional change in the welfare state
  5. The Single Case Study and research below the nation state: Comparisons across policy fields, regions, or instances of major social reform

Class discussion and lectures during the Intensive Program at the beginning of the semester give an introduction to these themes; further readings and a set of smaller exercises during the semester offer more detailed insights and provide students with an opportunity to apply some of that conceptual knowledge in evaluating select examples of comparative social policy and trying to define and design their own projects.

Criteria for evaluation Combination of a set of smaller written assignments and active participation during the Intensive Program and the distance learning phase
Methods There is an introductory classroom session at the beginning of the semester, then independent study, using methods of distance learning: Students will read examples of the different kinds of comparative inquiry and interrogate the theory-empirics-interface in each of them.
Language English
Study material Examples of the different kinds of comparative inquiry will be drawn from the journal article literature. They will be provided on-line in Moodle.
Textbooks explaining the methodological and conceptual issues include the following
King, Gary, Robert O Keohane, and Sidney Verba (1994): Designing Social Inquiry. Scientific Inquiry in Qualitative Research. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
George, Alexander L., and Andrew Bennett (2004): Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press.
Ragin, Charles (1987): The Comparative Method. Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies. Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press.
A full reading list will be announced at the beginning of the course.
Changing subject? No
On-site course
Maximum number of participants 30
Assignment procedure Assignment according to priority