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POS 350 Notes 3

by: Alexandria Paterson

POS 350 Notes 3 POS350

Alexandria Paterson
GPA 4.0

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About this Document

These notes cover the MMS and MDS design comparative method.
Comparative Politics
Class Notes
MMS, MDS, definitions, Global Comparative Politics, comparative, Politics, ComparativePolitics, POS350, notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alexandria Paterson on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POS350 at Arizona State University taught by Koehler in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 28 views. For similar materials see Comparative Politics in Humanities and Social Sciences at Arizona State University.

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Date Created: 08/31/16
POS 350 Tuesday, August 30th [Week 3 Notes 3] Remember: We compare to be able to explain, understand, and control. Most Similar Systems design (MMS) Most Different Systems design (MDS)  Comparative Politics is the only field in political science that is explicitly defined in terms  of a particular method  Comparative Politics is defined by the comparative method *Through comparisons we can learn not only about other countries but also about our own. However, comparing does not automatically open your eyes to the world. It requires open­ mindedness and critical thinking.  A willingness to be open to new ideas and perspectives  Awareness of our own biases and beliefs  Willing to challenge our own biases and beliefs  Possibly prove our own biases and beliefs wrong We have biases that are so deeply ingrained that we may not be aware of them. Critical Thinking: requires us to engage in a process of careful, well­considered and reflective  evaluation (which requires active thought and practice).  Following evidence where it leads, considering all possibility, relying on reason, being  precise, considering a variety of possible viewpoints and explanations, weighing the  effects of motives and biases, not rejecting the unpopular views etc. No one strategy for comparative analysis is better than another, but one may be better suited  depending on the situation or unit of analysis.  Most Similar Systems (   MSS ) Design  This strategy is based on:  Finding two or more very similar cases or social systems  Generally looking at countries, but we can apply this to other, lower level units of  analysis as well  We want to match up and compare two or more cases that share a whole range of  similarities (political, social, demographic, economic, cultural etc.).  Although we are looking for very similar cases, they need to differ in a couple of key  aspects (differences are key!)  They should differ in terms of their independent variables (causes or affects something  else­ the factor that is manipulated in experimental research) and their dependent  variables (what we’re trying to explain: something that is affected or caused by  something else)  The similarities allow us to isolate the independent and dependent variables and to  control for all of the similarities   Explanations are not always clear cut, and can depend on many different variables  No comparison between just two cases can prove anything (may or may not be  coincidental) so we need to be able to replicate our findings Variable examples Voting: Voter turnout = dependent variable Age/education/income level/employment status = independent variable The independent variable explains the dependent variable. Limitations of an MSS design:  Even with highly similar cases, no two are exactly alike  The closer we look, the more differences we will find  Similarity is a relative term  We need to be aware that no matter how similar two cases are, there will always be a  number of differences.   We can’t ever say for certain that the one key difference we identify is necessarily the  most important or the only difference that matters   MMS designs can still be very effective, we just need to be aware of the limitations and  be open and honest about them.   It can not definitively eliminate all other possible causes of explanation­ so be cautious  about exaggerating your results  Most Different Systems (   MDS ) Design  The MDS design is the opposite of the MSS design  The goal is to find two or more cases that are different in almost every regard except for  a few key similarities (similarities are key!)  We can adopt a MDS design and look for a key similarity to explain their specific case  The vast sea of differences allow us to isolate the similarities and to control for all those  differences  Limitations of an MDS design:  As with the MSS design, the MDS design cannot prove causal relationships  There may be another variable or factor that is different of each of the cases  We shouldn’t assume some issue or phenomenon is the product of a single cause *Exercise the the three Cs regarding our research and our findings:  Caution  Care  Constraint 


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