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The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology (Oxford Handbooks) 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199286546
ISBN-10: 019928654X
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Editorial Reviews


"This Handbook contains an extraordinary collection of magisterial articles by many of the best methodological minds in political science...The range is broad and substantive, with quantitative, qualitative, formal-theoretic, historical, and mixed methods discussed in relation to all the empirical subfields of the discipline. Every sect will find something to its taste, and those who celebrate the methodological diversity of the profession will have a feast. The articles are written to be accessible, and graduate students will find no better place to begin developing their own methodological judgment. This book is a splendid achievement."--Christopher H. Achen, Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences, Princeton University

"This extraordinary series offers 'state of the art' assessments that instruct, engage, and provoke. No one who is immersed in the discipline's controversies and possibilities should miss the intellectual stimulation and critical appraisal these works so powerfully provide."--Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

"This blockbuster set is a must-have for scholars and students alike. Each volume is crafted by a distinguished set of editors who have assembled critical, comprehensive, essays. These volumes will help to shape the discipline for many years to come."--Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University

About the Author

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier is the Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science, Director of the Program in Statistics and Methodology, and courtesy faculty of Sociology at the Ohio State University. She holds a B.A. in mathematics and political science from Coe College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin.

Henry E. Brady is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Economics and Political Science from MIT, and his areas of interest include Quantitative Methodology, American and Canadian Politics, and Political Behavior. He teaches undergraduate courses on political participation and party systems and graduate courses on advanced quantitative methodology.

David Collier is Professor of Political Science at University of California, Berkeley and former President of the American Political Science Association. His fields are comparative politics, Latin American politics, and methodology. His latest book is Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, of which he is co-editor and co-author with Henry E. Brady.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Handbooks
  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019928654X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199286546
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 2.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,338,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not a book that one is apt to speed read or skim through. It is a technical examination of causal thinking in research in political science. How can we assess causality, the extent to which variable A affects variable X?

The book is divided into several sections: An introduction; Approaches to social science methodology (e.g., normative methodology, meta-methodology, and agent-based modeling--a new subject for me); Concepts and measurement (improving measurement in political science is a key challenge--and that is the center of this section); Causality and explanation; Experiments, quasi-experiments, and natural experiments; Two sections assess quantitative tools for causal inference); Qualitative tools for inferring causality; Organizational and institutional aspects of methodology.

One case study--structural equation modeling (SEM for short). I have used this technique many times to try to infer causality. It is a powerful method, but one must be careful using it. Chapter 18 examines SEM. It is rigorous and not an easy read. I can use this tool and understand accessible descriptions of "how to do it," but this chapter is difficult for me to go through. The lead author, Kenneth Bollen, is an important figure in this context and his chapter is going to be very useful for high end users.

If interested in a rigorous examination of political science methodology and if informed in technical aspects of this, a wonderful resource and a great addition to the Oxford Handbook series.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the better in the Oxford Handbook series (two other particularly good ones, I think, are the volumes on Political Economy and Comparative Politics). Since the series caught on, Oxford has rushed many more into print and the series has become uneven.

Several excellent essays make this volume especially good (including the intro essay by Box-Steffensmeier, et al., and essays by Hardin, Poole, Brady, Freedman, Gerber and Green, Fearon and Laitin, among others). Altogether, the book is more than worthwhile and a great survey and reference. I have a general gripe: I think social scientists would benefit from greater awareness of some more philosophical issues related to problems of causality, but I'm sure I'm in a minority on that.

The real drawback might be that things are moving quickly enough to risk making this book outdated quickly — maybe. And (importantly), although the essays here are (I believe) all commissioned for this book, a thorough search of the net or of journals will turn up many papers covering these topics, though probably of a more technical kind, and many perhaps less well-vetted.

Additionally, there are now many websites, blogs, and online courses (at MIT and Stanford, for example) that deal with these topics. Andrew Gelman at Columbia posts regularly on issues of statistical modeling and causal inference in the social sciences. A search will locate his work quickly.

One way or another, a very solid 4 stars, just shy of 5.
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By msangel2 on February 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased for a faculty member and I received no complaints.
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The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology (Oxford Handbooks)
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