Overview: This course is about the application of qualitative methods to the study of civil war. It begins with an overview of the cutting edge in qualitative methods, intentionally casting its epistemological net broadly. We thus assess methods inspired by positivism
(case studies, process tracing) and those more interpretative in nature (discourse analysis, ethnography, textual analysis) - the goal being to provide students with a robust set of tools for explaining and understanding the dynamics of civil war. The course also reviews the promise (and pitfalls) of methodological pluralism or so-called mixed methods.
The stage set, we then explore applications of qualitative and mixed methods to the study of civil war. Our focus is not so much what these studies say about civil war; rather, we assess their use of qualitative methods. What slippage occurs (and why) between the abstract methodological ideal and real world applications? What counts as good process tracing in the context of civil war? Why are interpretive qualitative methods - and the constructivist theorizing that inspires them – often absent in work on civil war? What are the special challenges of employing mixed methods, and can or should one mix methods across epistemological boundaries?
The course thus operates at two levels – data and epistemology. On the former, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of various qualitative methods, and how they shape and influence data collection in the special context of civil war. Epistemology brings us to the more foundational level of „how we come to know.‟ How does one‟s epistemological position influence methodological choice, and why might this matter for students of civil war?
Active Participation in Class Discussions: The course will be run as a seminar, where debate and discussion are the norm. For each session, written discussion questions will serve as our starting point; seminar leaders will only lecture and/or summarize as necessary. For this format to be successful, students need to read the majority of seminar readings prior to our first meeting on 26 May.
Preparation of Discussion Points: For each class session, students should prepare a brief list of discussion questions and comments (3-5 in number); these should be based on the readings and will be distributed to all other seminar participants. (Please make sufficient copies for distribution!) Your questions/comments should reflect a critical
assessment of those readings. What are their strong and weak points? Their meta-theoretical, theoretical, methodological, empirical contributions? How do they relate to or build upon other readings or discussions? For the problems you identify, how might you fix them?
Completion of an Analytic Essay: Students have two options. (I) Prepare an analytic review on a topic that is of special interest and is consistent with the course's purpose and theme. Or (II), prepare a draft research design for a PhD project on civil war where qualitative methods play some role. In either case, essays should be a minimum of 6000-10000 words and are due by 31 August 2008.
Credits: 10 ECTS
Readings: The following five books can be purchased at the Akademika Book Store on the Blindern campus.
Gerring, John, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Hansen, Lene, Security as Practice: Discourse Analysis and the Bosnian War (London: Routledge, 2006)
Kalyvas, Stathis, The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Weinstein, Jeremy, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Wood, Elisabeth Jean, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
In addition, a number of the other assigned articles and chapters will be available through a set of course compendiums that can also be purchased at Akademika.
On the availability and status of both the books and compendiums, please consult with Øyvind Colbjørnsen (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Political Science main office.
Syllabus and Class Schedule
Day #1: Monday, 26 May (Blindern, ESH 830)
Session 1 (0900 - 1200): Qualitative Methods (I) – Case
Studies and Process Tracing
Bringing Case Studies Back In
Sambanis, Nicholas, "Using Case Studies to Expand Economic Models of Civil War," Perspectives on Politics 2/2 (2004): 257-79.
Case Studies – The Set Up
Gerring, John, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007), chapters 1-4, 7.
"Symposium: John Gerring, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Cambridge, 2007)," Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research 5/2 (2007): 2-15.
Case Studies – The Methodological Tools
Hall, Peter, "Aligning Ontology and Methodology in Comparative Politics," in James Mahoney and Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Editors, Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), chapter 11.
Bennett, Andrew and Alexander George, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), chapter 10.
Checkel, Jeffrey T., "Process Tracing," in Audie Klotz, Editor, Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
Session 2 (1315 – 1600): Qualitative Methods (II) – Textual and Discourse Analysis
Nuts and Bolts
"Symposium: Discourse and Content Analysis," Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Qualitative Methods 2/1 (2004): 15-39.
Milliken, Jennifer, "The Study of Discourse in International Relations: A Critique of Research and Methods," European Journal of International Relations 5 (June 1999): 225-54.
Hansen, Lene, Security as Practice: Discourse Analysis and the Bosnian War (London: Routledge, 2006), chapters 1-5.
Doty, Roxanne Lynn, "Foreign Policy as Social Construction: A Post-Positivist Analysis of US Counterinsurgency Policy in the Philippines," International Studies Quarterly 37 (1993): 297-320.
Day #2: Tuesday, 27 May (PRIO, Peace Room)
Session 3 (0900 – 1200): Qualitative Methods (III) – Ethnography and Field Work
(With the participation of Professor Elisabeth Wood of Yale University)
Wood, Elisabeth Jean, "Field Research," in Carles Boix and Susan Stokes, Editors, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), chapter 5.
Laitin, David, "Appendix: Research Methodology," in Laitin, Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yoruba (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), pp.185-205.
Wood, Elisabeth Jean, "The Ethical Challenges of Field Research in Conflict Zones," Qualitative Sociology 29 (2006): 373-86.
"Symposium: Field Research – How Rich? How Thick? How Participatory?" Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Qualitative Methods 4/2 (2006): 9-24.
Session 4 (1315 – 1600): Qualitative Methods (IV) – Mixing Methods
Lieberman, Evan, "Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research," American Political Science Review 99/3 (2005): 435-452.
"Symposium: Multi-Method Work, Dispatches from the Front Lines," Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Qualitative Methods 5/1 (2007): 9-27.
"Symposium: Bridging the Gap? Connecting Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in the Study of Civil War," Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (Forthcoming in 2008).
Hopf, Ted, Social Construction of International Politics: Identities and Foreign Policies, Moscow, 1955 and 1999 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), chapter 1.
Day #3: Wednesday, 28 May (PRIO, Peace Room)
Session 5 (0900 – 1200): Civil War (I) - Wood
(With the participation of Professor Elisabeth Wood of Yale University)
Wood, Elisabeth Jean, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), chapters 1-2, 7-8, Appendix.
Session 6 (1315 – 1615): Civil War (II) - Kalyvas
Kalyvas, Stathis, The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Introduction, chapters 4-5, 8-9.
Day #4: Thursday, 29 May (Blindern, ESH 830)
Session 7 (0900 – 1200): Civil War (III) - Weinstein
Weinstein, Jeremy, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007), Introduction, chapters 1, 4-5, 9.
Session 8 (1315 - 1600): The Challenges Ahead for Civil War Studies (I) – Taking Mechanisms Seriously
Tarrow, Sidney, "Inside Insurgencies: Politics and Violence in an Age of Civil War (Book Review Essay)," Perspectives on Politics 5/3 (2007): 587-600.
Elster, Jon, "A Plea for Mechanisms," in Peter Hedstrøm and Richard Swedberg, Editors, Social Mechanisms: An Analytical Approach to Social Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), chapter 3.
Mahoney, James, "Beyond Correlational Analysis: Recent Innovations in Theory and Method," Sociological Forum 16/3 (2001): 575-93.
Johnson, James, "Consequences of Positivism: A Pragmatist Assessment," Comparative Political Studies 39 (2006): 224-52.
McAdam, Doug, Sidney Tarrow and Charles Tilly, "Methods for Measuring Mechanisms of Contention," Qualitative Sociology (Forthcoming in 2008).
Day #5: Friday, 30 May (Blindern, ESH 830)
Session 9 (0900 - 1200): The Challenges Ahead for Civil War Studies (II) – Moving Beyond Political Economy and towards Bridge-Building
(With the participation of Professor Scott Gates, Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO)
Adler, Emanuel, "Constructivism and International Relations," in Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth Simmons, Editors, Handbook of International Relations (London: Sage Publications, 2002), chapter 5.
Fearon, James and Alexander Wendt, "Rationalism v. Constructivism: A Skeptical View," in Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth Simmons, Editors, Handbook of International Relations (London: Sage Publications, 2002), chapter 3.
Kalyvas, Stathis, "Ethnic Defection in Civil War," Comparative Political Studies (Forthcoming in 2008).
Lake, David, "Building Legitimate States after Civil Wars: Order, Authority and International Trusteeship," Paper presented at the Centre for the Study of Civil War Brown Bag Seminar, International Peace Research Institute Oslo (October 2007).
Blattman, Christopher, "The Causes of Child Soldiering: Theory and Evidence from Northern Uganda." Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, Chicago, IL (March 2007).