From the award-winning team behind the International Encyclopaedia of Political Science... Moving beyond mainstream “traditional” approaches to bring you a new advanced-level introduction to political science. A perfect introduction for postgraduates who are new to political science, as well as upper-level undergraduates looking to broaden and deepen their understanding of core topics, this progressive account: • Guides you through all key areas of political science: origins, methodological foundations, key topics, and current issues • Takes an international and pluralist perspective with all issues explored in a comparative way related to different cultural and historical contexts • Includes pulled-out descriptions of major concepts, further reading and self-assessment questions at the end of each chapter.

Epistemological and methodological foundations and approaches

Epistemological and methodological foundations and approaches

Key terms

  • Behaviouralism
  • Causality
  • Constructivism
  • Epistemology
  • Hermeneutics
  • Medium range theories
  • Methodological individualism
  • Methodology
  • Naturalism
  • Ontology
  • Rational choice

Introduction: Basic distinctions

This chapter lays some of the major epistemological foundations of political science and the social sciences in general. It points to the multi-dimensionality and the malleability of the substance matter and outlines a general model of social explanations. On this basis it discusses different concepts of causality in varying research situations (single case, small N, large N) and some of the major conceptual and methodological approaches based on them.

As pointed out in the previous chapter, political science has always been characterized by a diversity of contending meta-theoretical positions, paradigms and approaches. And this is, from the pluralist perspective of this introduction, as it should be. In ...

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