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Analytic Narratives Revisted

Bates, Robert H. and Levi, Margaret and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent and Weingast, Barry R. (2000) Analytic Narratives Revisted. Social Science History, 24 (4). pp. 685-696. ISSN 0145-5532.

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We welcome the animated debate raised by Analytic Narratives concerning social scientific methods and the scope of rational choice. Advocates of mathematical and rational models have long claimed they have much to tell us about situations where behavior can be quantified or where the situation under study recurs many times. However, it was thought impermissible for rational choice theories (and rational choice) to venture into the analysis of big events. Political scientists like Gary King, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba (1994) implicitly conceded the issue by concentrating on the problem of case selection when the number of cases is small but greater than one. We believe unique events are too important to leave aside, and we use rational choice, particularly game theory, as a means to study unique events. A symposium on AN is a difficult exercise. The writing of analytic narratives is still in its infancy, and the topics and aims of the volume range across disciplines and over more than a millennium. The commentaries by Daniel Carpenter, Sunita Parikh, and Theda Skocpol reflect a patience and openness that we can only applaud. Overall they agree on the merits of the enterprise but debate the nature, relevance, and extensiveness of our contribution. The question that we must therefore confront is not whether to craft analytic narratives but what constitute the standards for research in this vein. Our critics perceptively indict us for a number of misdemeanors and perhaps even a few felonies. To most of Carpenter’s, Parikh’s, and Skocpol’s charges we plead guilty with honor. Rather than responding to each of their criticisms individually we recognize that they fundamentally concern four issues: (1) Does AN actually deliver what the introduction promises? (2) Where is the narrative? (3) Where is the analytical method? (4) How do we transform an approach to problems into a research area in social science?

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Additional Information:© 2000 Social Science History Association.
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160308-135238000
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:65212
Deposited On:10 Mar 2016 21:12
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 09:45

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