This article discusses the application of qualitative methods in analyzing causal complexity. In particular, the essay reviews how process tracing and systematic case comparisons can address path-dependent explanations. The article unpacks the concept of path dependence and its component elements of causal possibility, contingency, closure of alternatives, and constraints to the current path. The article then reviews four strengths that case studies bring to the study of path dependence: offering a detailed and holistic analysis of sequences in historical cases, being suitable for the study of rare events, facilitating the search for omitted variables that might lie behind contingent events, and allowing for the study of interaction effects within one or a few cases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations