Qualitative methodology and comparative politics

James Mahoney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Leading methods for pursuing qualitative research in the field of comparative politics are discussed. On one hand, qualitative researchers in this field use a variety of methods of theory development: procedures for generating new hypotheses, tools for pursuing conceptual innovation, and techniques for identifying populations of homogeneous cases. On the other hand, they employ both within-case and cross-case methods of theory testing. Within-case methods include techniques for identifying intervening mechanisms and testing multiple observable implications of theories. Cross-case methods include a host of approaches for assessing hypotheses about necessary and sufficient causes. The article discusses the distinctive leverage offered by qualitative research for addressing questions in comparative politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-144
Number of pages23
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Case selection
  • Causal inference
  • Theory generation
  • Theory testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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