Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Political methodology deals with all issues related to empirical political research (nonempirical work, such as pure formal or normative theory, is excluded here). Methodology, as it is understood here, simply refers to the ways in which we acquire knowledge and comprises a multitude of specific methods and techniques. As such, it is embedded in an epistemological tradition of “critical rationalism” (Karl Popper) and “scientific realism.” This has been summarized as the “twofold conviction that the world consists of causal mechanisms that exist independently of our study—or even awareness—of them, and that the methods of science hold our best possibility of our grasping their true character” (Ian Shapiro, 2005, pp. 8–9). While it is often confused with narrower topics such as statistics, methodology is a broad area that deals with every aspect of political research, both quantitative and qualitative. While some methodological issues are more relevant to certain subfields or types ...