Qualitative Methods and the Study of Civil War (2015)

Please note: This page refers to a course that has already taken place.

Time:

27 - 30 Apr 2015

Place:

PRIO, Hausmanns gate 7, Oslo

Organizer:

​Jeffrey T. Checkel, Simon Fraser University and PRIO

Credits:

10 ECTS

Contact:

Maral Mirshahi (marmir@prio.no)

Lecturers:

Jeffrey T. Checkel, Simons Chair, Simon Fraser University, and Global Fellow, PRIO (jtcheckel@sfu.ca). Guest: Kristian Berg Harpviken, PRIO

Course Description:

​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 conflict; 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?  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?

Schedule:

                                               Day #1: Monday, 27 April

 

Session I (0900 – 1200): Causal Mechanisms and Case Studies

 

The Turn to Mechanisms

Johnson, James, "Consequences of Positivism: A Pragmatist Assessment," Comparative Political Studies 39/2 (2006): 224-52.

Gerring, John, "Review Article: The Mechanismic Worldview – Thinking Inside the Box," British Journal of Political Science 38/1 (2007): 161-79.

Hedstrom, Peter and Petri Ylikoski, "Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences," Annual Review of Sociology 36 (2010): 49–67.

 

Case Studies – Nuts and Bolts

Gerring, John, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007), chapters 1-4, 7.

 

Case Studies – Applications

Sambanis, Nicholas, "Using Case Studies to Expand Economic Models of Civil War," Perspectives on Politics 2/2 (2004): 257-79.

Blattman, Christopher, "Children and War: How 'Soft' Research Can Answer the Hard Questions in Political Science," Perspectives on Politics 10/2 (2012): 403-413.

 

Session II (1315 – 1630): Measuring Mechanisms – The Role of Process Tracing

 

Nuts and Bolts

Bennett, Andrew and Jeffrey T. Checkel, "Process Tracing: From Philosophical Roots to Best Practices," in Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), chapter 1.

Checkel, Jeffrey T. and Andrew Bennett, "Beyond Metaphors: Standards, Theory, and the 'Where Next' for Process Tracing," in Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), chapter 10.

Bennett, Andrew, "Disciplining our Conjectures: Systematizing Process Tracing with Bayesian Analysis," in Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), Appendix.

 

Applications

Bakke, Kristin, "Copying and Learning from Outsiders? Assessing Diffusion from Transnational Insurgents in the Chechen Wars," in Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editor, Transnational Dynamics of Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), chapter 2.

Lyall, Jason, "Process Tracing, Causal Inference, and Civil War," in Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), chapter 7.

 

                                               Day #2: Tuesday, 28 April

 

Session III (0900 - 1200): Interpretive Analysis

 

Nuts and Bolts

Milliken, Jennifer, "The Study of Discourse in International Relations: A Critique of Research and Methods," European Journal of International Relations 5/2 (1999): 225-54.

Neumann, Iver, "Discourse Analysis," in Audie Klotz and Deepa Prakash, Editors, Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), chapter 5.

Pouliot, Vincent, International Security in Practice: The Politics of NATO-Russia Diplomacy (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010), chapters 1-3.

Pouliot, Vincent, "Practice Tracing," in Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), chapter 9.

 

Applications

Doty, Roxanne Lynn, "Foreign Policy as Social Construction: A Post-Positivist Analysis of US Counterinsurgency Policy in the Philippines," International Studies Quarterly 37/3 (1993): 297-320.

Pouliot, Vincent, International Security in Practice: The Politics of NATO-Russia Diplomacy (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010), chapter 4.

 

Session IV (1315 - 1630): Ethnography and Field Work

 

(With the participation of Kristian Berg Harpviken, PRIO)

 

Nuts and Bolts

Schatz, Edward, "Introduction: Ethnographic Immersion and the Study of Politics," in Edward Schatz, Editor, Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), chapter 1.

Gusterson, Hugh, "Ethnographic Research," in Audie Klotz and Deepa Prakash, Editors, Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), chapter 7.

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.

 

Applications

Harpviken, Kristian Berg, Social Networks and Migration in Wartime Afghanistan (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Appendix.

Fujii, Lee Ann, "Shades of Truth and Lies: Interpreting Testimonies of War and Violence," Journal of Peace Research 47/2 (2010): 231–241.

Fujii, Lee Ann, "Five Stories of Accidental Ethnography: Turning Unplanned Moments in the Field into Data," Qualitative Research (2014 - DOI: 10.1177/1468794114548945 [13 September]).

Autesserre, Severine, "Hobbes and the Congo: Frames, Local Violence and International Intervention," International Organization 63/2 (2009): 249-80.

Wood, Elisabeth Jean, "The Ethical Challenges of Field Research in Conflict Zones," Qualitative Sociology 29/3 (2006): 373-86.

 

                                            Day #3: Wednesday, 29 April

 

Session V (0900 - 1100): Individual Meetings on Course Essays

 

Session VI (1100 – 1200, 1315 - 1415): Mixing Methods

 

Nuts and Bolts

Lieberman, Evan, "Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research," American Political Science Review 99/3 (2005): 435-452.

Ahmed, Amel and Rudra Sil, "When Multi-Method Research Subverts Methodological Pluralism - Or, Why We Still Need Single-Method Research," Perspectives on Politics 10/4 (2012): 935-53.

 

Applications

"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 6/1 (2008): 13-29.

Dunning, Thad, "Improving Process Tracing: The Case of Multi-Method Research," in Andrew Bennett and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), chapter 8.

 

Session VII (1415 - 1700): Qualitative Methods and Civil War - Kalyvas

 

Kalyvas, Stathis, The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Introduction, chapters 4-5, 8-9.

 

                                              Day #4: Thursday, 30 April

 

Session VIII (0900 - 1200): Qualitative Methods and Civil War - Weinstein

Weinstein, Jeremy, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007), Introduction, chapters 1, 4-5, 9.

 

Session IX (1315 - 1600): Qualitative Methods and Civil War - Wood

 

(With the participation of Kristian Berg Harpviken, PRIO)

 

Wood, Elisabeth Jean, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), chapters 1-2, 7-8, Appendix.

 

Session X (1615 - 1700): Wrap Up & Conclusions

 

No readings.

Deadlines:

​Application deadline: 13 March 2015

Essay deadline: 15 August 2015

Requirements:

1) 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.  For this format to be successful, students need to read the seminar readings prior to our first meeting on 27 April.

2) 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?

3) 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 6000-10000 words and are due by 15 August 2015.  On the first day of class – Monday, 27 April - students should provide the instructor with a 2-3 page introduction to their proposed essay.  These overviews will then be discussed at one-on-one meetings on the morning of Wednesday, 29 April, 0900-1100, when there will be no formal class sessions.

Admission:

The deadline for applications is 13 March 2015. Please fill in the application form. PhD candidates should specify the topic of their project under 'Research interests'. PhD candidates get priority, but others with graduate studies from a relevant discipline may also apply. 

There is no participation fee, but the cost of transportation and accommodation must be covered by the participants. A limited number of stipends to cover basic accommodation at neighbouring Anker Hotel are available for PhD students who do not have funding for such course participation through their universities or otherwise. 

If needed in order to make the necessary travel arrangements, PhD candidates who apply prior to the deadline may request an early evaluation of their application in an e-mail to Kristoffer Lidén (Kristoffer@prio.no) , with a cc. to Maral Mirshahi (marmir@prio.no).'

Course Literature:

The following six books – all available as paperbacks - should be purchased.

Bennett, Andrew and Jeffrey T. Checkel, Editors, Process Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Gerring, John, Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Kalyvas, Stathis, The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Pouliot, Vincent, International Security in Practice: The Politics of NATO-Russia Diplomacy (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

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)

For the remaining readings, see the course schedule. Students should be able to access most of the assigned reading – especially journal articles - through their local libraries.  A selection of hard-to-get readings (single chapters in books, contributions to newsletters) will be made available by late March.