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Paperback | $26.00 Short | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262572224 | 350 pp. | 6.125 x 9.25 in | April 2005

Instructor Resources

Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences


The use of case studies to build and test theories in political science and the other social sciences has increased in recent years. Many scholars have argued that the social sciences rely too heavily on quantitative research and formal models and thus have attempted to develop and refine rigorous methods for using case studies. This text presents a comprehensive analysis of research methods using case studies and examines the place of case studies in social science methodology. It argues that case studies, statistical methods, and formal models are complementary rather than competitive.

The book explains how to design case study research that will produce results useful to policymakers and it emphasizes the importance of developing policy-relevant theories. It offers three major contributions to case study methodology: an emphasis on the importance of within-case analysis, a detailed discussion of process tracing, and development of the concept of typological theories. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences will be particularly useful to graduate students and scholars in social science methodology and the philosophy of science, as well as to those designing new research projects, and will contribute greatly to the broader debate about scientific methods.

About the Authors

Alexander L. George was Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Stanford University and the author or coauthor of many books, most recently Presidential Personality and Performance (1998).

Andrew Bennett is Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University and the author of Condemned to Repetition? The Rise, Fall, and Reprise of Soviet-Russian Military Interventionism, 1973-1996 (MIT Press, 1999).


"The more widely this book is read, the better future social science will be."
Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Ren

"I teach qualitative methods. If I could only have one text in my classroom, this would be it."
Colin Elman, Executive Director, Consortium on Qualitative Research Methods, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Arizona State University

"This superb book will improve enormously our disciplinary debates and help all of us in our research and teaching."
Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

"In scope, clarity, and erudition, this book sets a new standard not just in the analysis of case-study methods, but in the study of social science methods more broadly."
David Dessler, Associate Professor of Government, College of William and Mary

"This is the sort of book scholarsand not just graduate studentswill want to come back to over and over again."
Marc Trachtenberg, Professor of Political Science, University of California at Los Angeles

"The beauty of George and Bennett's approach is their careful integration of theory and method and their conviction that the pursuit of empirical knowledge is profoundly theory dependent."
Charles Ragin, Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona

"Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences makes an indispensable contribution to the growing literature on qualitative methods in the social sciences."
Jack S. Levy, Board of Governors' Professor, Rutgers University

"An immensely helpful practical guide to the case method."
Stephen Van Evera, Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology