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ASA Proposal: Special Session on Comparative-Historical Methods: Longitudinal Case Analysis

(By John Walton, Jeff Haydu, Chris Rhomberg) The comparative method has been a subject of much discussion and experimentation in recent years as sociologists have assessed the value of interpretive case studies and microhistory, large sample comparisons, and some synthesis of the two (as in Charles Ragin's QCA or Qualitative Comparative Analysis developed in THE COMPARATIVE METHOD).

Further advances in comparative sociology depend upon developing new strategies that move beyond conventional conceptions of cases (or "caseness") and temporalities. A promising new direction, however, has emerged in recent convergent research. Working separately Professors John Walton (WESTERN TIMES AND WATER WARS: STATE, CULTURE AND REBELLION IN CALIFORNIA, University of California Press, 1992), Jeff Haydu (MAKING AMERICAN INDUSTRY SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY: COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES ON THE STATE AND EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATION IN THE ERA OF WORLD WAR I, University of California, 2001), and Christopher Rhomberg (NO THERE THERE: RACE, CLASS, AND POLITICAL COMMUNITY IN OAKLAND, University of Illinois Press, 1997) have developed a form of "longitudinal comparison," in which time periods (e.g. in the history of a community or of state policies) become units for comparison. This new method is capable of wide application in comparative-historical sociology.

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