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Conjuncture, Comparison, and Conditional Theory in Macrosocial Inquiry

Jeffery M. Paige
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 105, No. 3 (November 1999), pp. 781-800
DOI: 10.1086/210360
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/210360
Page Count: 20
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Conjuncture, Comparison, and Conditional Theory in Macrosocial Inquiry
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Abstract

Recent debates on comparative historical method have focused on three issues: (1) narrative and conjuncture, (2) the logic of comparison, and (3) the limits of theoretical generalization. The present article attempts to resolve some of the issues raised in these debates by developing a distinction between universal and historically conditional theory through a contrast between work by such leaders of the revived comparative historical tradition as Charles Tilly, Theda Skocpol, and Immanuel Wallerstein and selected works by second‐generation comparative historical sociologists. The conditional theories of the second generation incorporate narrative and conjunctural temporality, theory‐driven comparison, and historically conditional generalization that were not emphasized in the universalizing theories and comparisons of the first generation.

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