Nominal, ordinal, and narrative appraisal in macrocausal analysis

James Mahoney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Macrocausal analysis is often characterized as following only a single strategy of causal inference. In fact, however, at least three different techniques are used: nominal, ordinal, and narrative strategies of causal assessment. Focusing on recent works of comparative history, this article presents an evaluation of the strengths and limitations of each strategy. In addition, it considers the trade-offs involved in combining two or more strategies. Finally, the article discusses the role of scholarly tastes and skills, the research question, and ongoing research cycles in shaping the methodological approach selected by investigators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1196
Number of pages43
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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