A New Handbook of Political Science

By Robert E. Goodin; Hans-Dieter Klingemann | Go to book overview

Chapter 32
Political Methodology:
An Overview

John E. Jackson

CHRIS Achen, in 1983, referred to work in political methodology as derived largely from forays through other disciplines' attics ( Achen 1983). Over the past twenty-five years this has meant primarily applications and extensions of whatever econometricians were using. The main theme of this chapter is that the importation of econometric methods has substantially advanced the practice of empirical work in political science and provided very important substantive insights. This progress, and it definitely is progress, has come with an opportunity cost. The economists' sermon of no free lunch applies in the application of econometrics as well. The cost is in the form of assumptions that are widely accepted in economics and deeply imbedded in their statistical models. The first section of this chapter reviews some of these assumptions and their implications for the empirical analysis of political behavior and institutions. The next section offers some empirical work that both questions these assumptions and illustrates some of their consequences. The chapter then concludes with a challenge to political methodologists in the form of possible new directions, one outcome of which might be to have empirical researchers from other disciplines appear at our garage sales.


I Econometrics and political science

The application and refinement of econometric techniques has been the dominant theme of political methodology for the past twenty-five years. The expansion of these techniques is well documented by King ( 1991) and

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