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
Concepts are central to the enterprise of political science. The concepts we use shape the world we see. Without solid conceptual foundations, the edifice of political science is insecure. If we fail to develop clear and precise concepts, our theoretical insights and empirical discoveries will fail to be clear and precise, too. This entry reviews major pitfalls for conceptual analysis as well as the fundamental challenges to concept formation and conceptual innovation in the study of politics. In contemporary political science, concept formation is often regarded as a distraction, a mere prelude to serious research that is given scarce attention. Scholars sometimes ignore conceptual disputes, resolve them by fiat, or delegate their resolution to political philosophers. At the same time, a strong tradition of self-conscious and systematic concept analysis, resting on the pioneering work of Giovanni Sartori, David Collier, and others, does exist in the discipline. This entry offers an ...