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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Spring 2010

SOC 388L • Historical and Comparative Methods

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46535 T
6:00 PM-9:00 PM
BUR 480

Course Description

The course is devoted to the study of comparative and historical methods in sociology (CHS). It is designed to provide graduate students with a general understanding of the theoretical paradigms that scholars have developed in that genre of sociology. We will be reading closely books that span five decades of comparative and historical sociology and have received attention in the field. All these books are meant as exemplars that "do" comparative and historical sociology. Each of them puts the methodology in practice to study a substantive sociological issue. Our purpose is to deconstruct each text in order to understand how the author has used comparisons implicitly or explicitly (in most cases) in order to build a theoretical argument. It is also to play close attention to the sources and type of data used. In addition, we will consider articles that comment on comparative and historical methods. These articles should help you develop an intellectual map of the analytic strategies displayed in the books we are using as exemplars of the methodology. Thematically, the seminar focuses on states, state formation, and politics. We will invite guest speakers who use comparative/historical methods to come and tell us about their work from time to time. An updated syllabus will be provided as necessary.

Grading Policy

The course meets one a week and attendance is required. The first requirement is to do the readings and to come to class prepared to discuss them. Students will also be asked to lead designated class discussions. The second requirement is in the form of written pieces. The course grade depends upon the following: A critique of readings with oral presentations 25%, a take home midterm 25 %, a research proposal 40%. Class participation counts for10%. The proposal must draw closely on the seminar readings.


B. Moore Jr, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy
T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions
M. M. Charrad, States and Women's Rights
Julia Adams, The Familial State
Rogers Brubaker, Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany

Three highly recommended edited collections:
There are three edited collections which I see as key in the field. They offer a combination of pieces practicing CHS and other than comment on various dimensions of the method. Please consult them in the course of the semester. These edited collections are on reserve at PCL for our course. They are:

Skocpol, Theda, ed., Vision and Method in Historical Sociology, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984
Mahoney, James, and Dietrich Rueschemeyer. Editors, Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003
Adams, Julia, Elizabeth Clemens and Ann Orloff. Eds., Remaking Modernity: Politics, History, and Sociology, Durham, NC. : Duke University Press, 2005


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