Qualitative Methods and the Study of Civil War

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

Time:

29 Apr 2013 - 03 May 2013

Place:

PRIO, Hausmanns gate 7, Oslo

Organizer:

Jeffrey T. Checkel, Simons Chair, Simon Fraser University; Research Professor, PRIO

Credits:

10 ECTS

Contact:

Lecturers:

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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, 29 April 

Session 1 (0900 – 1200): Qualitative Methods (I) – Case Studies and Causal Mechanisms

Bringing Case Studies and Mechanisms Back In 

Johnson, James, “Consequences of Positivism: A Pragmatist Assessment,” Comparative Political Studies39/2 (2006): 224-52.

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

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.​

Session 2 (1315 – 1630): Qualitative Methods (II) – Process Tracing

Nuts and Bolts

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.

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, forthcoming in 2014), Chapter 1.

Collier, David, “Understanding Process Tracing,” PS: Political Science and Politics 44/4 (2011): 823-30.

Hall, Peter, “Symposium: Tracing the Progress of Process Tracing,” European Political Science 11 (2012)  [Advance Online Publication, 30 March 2012; doi:10.1057/eps.2012.6].

Applications

Gheciu, Alexandra, “Security Institutions as Agents of Socialization? NATO in the ‘New Europe’,”International Organization 59/4 (2005): 973-1012.

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.

                                               Day #2: Tuesday, 30 April

Session 3 (0900 - 1200): Qualitative Methods (III) – Interpretive 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 5/2 (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.

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 4 (1315 - 1630): Qualitative Methods (IV) – 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. 

“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. 

Applications

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

Wood, Elisabeth Jean, “The Ethical Challenges of Field Research in Conflict Zones,” Qualitative Sociology29/3 (2006): 373-86.

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

Wednesday, 1 May – Public Holiday / No Class

                                                Day #3: Thursday, 2 May

Session 5 (0900 - 1200): Qualitative Methods (V) – 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.

“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: Cautionary Perspectives on Multi-Method Research,” Qualitative Methods: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research7/2 (2009): 2-22.

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.

Hopf, Ted, Social Construction of International Politics: Identities and Foreign Policies, Moscow, 1955 and 1999 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), chapter 1.

Session 6 (1315 - 1630): Civil War (I) - Kalyvas

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

                                                   Day #4: Friday, 3 May

Session 7 (0900 - 1200): Civil War (II) - 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): Civil War (III) - 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 9 (1615 - 1700): Wrap Up & Conclusions

No readings.

Requirements:

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 29 April.

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 6000-10000 words and are due by 15 August 2013.

Admission:

​ The application deadline is 29 March 2013. Applicants who are not enrolled in the Research School on Peace and Conflict should include a very brief description of their doctoral research, and details about their university affiliation. Send applications by e-mail to the Research School Coordinator, Kristoffer Lidén (kristoffer@prio.no). There is no course fee, but the cost of transportation and accommodation, if needed, must be covered by participants. No financial assistance is available. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application as quickly as possible after the deadline.

Course Literature:

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

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) 

Students should access most other assigned articles and chapters through their local libraries.  A selection of hard-to-get readings (unpublished or forthcoming essays, contributions to newsletters) will be made available on this course page by early April.