Comparative Process Tracing in Housing Studies
Comparative social and political research often contains a historical dimension. Lately it has become fashionable to refer to this dimension with the term ‘path dependence’. In this article we propose an approach to comparative housing research that takes the path dependence of social and political processes seriously. In contrast to the traditional understanding of historical research, this approach, which can be called ‘comparative process tracing’, is quite strongly theoretically informed. We see comparative process tracing as an analysis in two steps. In the first step the goal is to reconstruct as closely as possible a chain of ideal-type social mechanisms made portable to other contexts by the assumption of thin rationality. In the second step, these processes are compared making use of ideal type periodisation. We have, together with others, applied comparative process tracing to an analysis of the Nordic housing policies. The article discusses the basic ideas behind the approach in that research and reflects on how to develop it further. It also presents some analytical tools that were used in the Nordic project to facilitate comparison between processes, e.g. an analytical distinction between critical junctures and focal points, a periodisation based on an ideal-type evolution model of housing provision, and a ladder of institutionalisation based on Lukes’ ‘three faces of power’.
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Volume (Year): 11 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
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