What are the advantages and disadvantages of large N studies in comparative research?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of large N studies in
Issues arise with data availability - often poor quality of quantitative data.
Reason why explanations for democratisation has not been fully realised.
Sub-national data collection is a new enterprise, little data.
Research dictated by the data available.
Scarcity of relevant data.
Lacks Depth - can't gain and understanding of thick (complex and multidimensional) theories.
Loose theoretical integration - merely makes disembodied propositions which hold no theory between them, means we are unable to make predictions.
Thin - assumes little about the world, merely identifies an association between two narrowly conceived phenomena.
Leads to empirical generalisations but not necessarily theory - but they can still act as contributions to our theoretical understanding.
Democracy - argument made that democracy is associated with economic development, but rough association, can't predict small differences.
Generality over complexity (Ragin)
More likely for conceptual stretching to occur - ladder of generality needs, or radial categories.
Seeks to homogenise a heterogeneous world.
Not the issue of 'too many variables, too few cases'.
Need not always be quantitative.
High external validity due to generalisations.
Avoids selection bias.
Currently being enhanced by technological and computational developments.
Variable based approach.
Quantitative, aggregate and secondary data.
Large number of cases.
World Values Survey
Nationally representative surveys.
100 countries - 90% of the population.
Studies changing values and their impact on social and political life.
Allows for an understanding of how culture varies, the influence of cleavage lines, emancipatory values could give insight into movements away from democracy etc.
Difficulties with lack of available data.
Many associated arguments made are rough and dont allow for predictions.
E.g. Relationship between economic development and democracy.
Freedom House - arguments over cultural bias, however, generally few criticisms, based on civil and political rights.
Large N can be done looking at aggregate data.
Labour market program spending.
Also useful to have qualitative data.
Public spending doesn't tell you about the characteristics of policies, where the spending goes.
Advantages Cases - WVS
Disadvantages Cases - Democracy, Europeanisation
Bridge between the two require for full understanding of the world.
Role for Small N
A bridge between the two?
Large N focus on most obvious and large variations, outliers analysed by small N.
Large N to sketch the big picture, small N to fill in the details.
Called Mixed Method Research