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The Role of General Theory in Comparative-Historical Sociology

Edgar Kiser and Michael Hechter
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 97, No. 1 (Jul., 1991), pp. 1-30
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2781636
Page Count: 30
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The Role of General Theory in Comparative-Historical Sociology
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Abstract

The methodological foundations of comparative-historical sociology have been transformed dramatically in recent years. Arguments against general theoretical models have proliferated, while the complexity and uniqueness of historical events and the virtues of inductive methods have been emphasized. The growing convergence of sociology and history has led to a decline in the use of general theories. This article begins with a description and analysis of the recent transformation of the methodology of comparative-historical sociology. An overreliance on inductive methods has resulted in inadequate specifications of causal relations and causal mechanisms in recent comparative-historical sociology. The concluding section discusses a nascent rational choice research program in political sociology to illustrate an alternative methodology.

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