Situational Analysis: Explanation in Political Science

James Farr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This essay forwards situational analysis as the model of explanation most appropriate for an adequate reflective understanding of political science. It keeps centermost our concerns with intentionality, rationality, contextuality, and meaning. It promises to be as general a model of explanation as we can expect because it forges an underlying unity amongst diverse explanatory practices, including substantive models, law-like generalizations, idiographic explanations, and textual interpretations. After a development of situational analysis roughly along Popperian lines, three different sorts of explanations in political science are surveyed in light of it. Its limits are explored, and a brief agenda for further methodological reflection is suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1107
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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