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
Epistemological and Methodological Foundations
Jonathon W. Moses
Understood literally, method-ology means the study and/or use of methods. This understanding implies the existence of more than one method and that the utility of a particular method can vary across contexts. For many practitioners in political science, the method of choice is determined by the number of observations: Students of relatively abundant political phenomena rely on statistical techniques, students of unique political phenomena use case study techniques, and those in the middle sample choose from a wide array of qualitative or small- N comparative approaches. This methodological rule of thumb is derived from an implicit hierarchy of methods, which is the product of a particular, and very influential, research tradition. This entry examines the ontological and epistemological foundations of this research tradition to explain the reasoning behind its implicit hierarchy of methods and to show some of its inherent limitations. There are two objectives for this. The first objective ...