Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: August 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9780857021083 | Print ISBN: 9781412919760 | Online ISBN: 9780857021083 | Publisher:SAGE Publications LtdAbout this handbook
Chapter 9: The Contribution of Area Studies
Stephen E. Hanson
The contribution of area studies The role of ‘area studies’ in the comparative politics subfield of political science has been the subject of a prolonged and often acrimonious debate. On one hand, advocates of a more deductive approach to social science inference have railed against area specialists for their presumed hostility to both generalizable theory and quantitative methodology. As Robert Bates warned in 1996 in his initial ‘Letter from the President’ in the American Political Science Association (APSA) Comparative Politics Newsletter: Within the academy, the consensus has formed that area studies has failed to generate scientific knowledge. Many see area specialists as having defected from the social sciences to the camp of the humanists … They tend to lag behind others in terms of their knowledge of statistics, their commitment to theory, and their familiarity with mathematical approaches to the study of politics. (Bates, 1996) Area studies centers, Bates argues, ...