Comparing Regionalisms: Methodological Aspects and Considerations

Authored by: Philippe De Lombaerde

The Ashgate Research Companion to Regionalisms

Print publication date:  January  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754677628
eBook ISBN: 9781315613499
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041863


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Although early neo-functionalists had already engaged in comparative studies of regionalisms in different world regions back in the 1960s, it is only more recently that comparative regionalism studies saw their interest grow and their number of practitioners multiply significantly. More and more scholars with a track record in area – often European – studies are moving in the direction of comparative regionalism studies. In addition, the growing availability of quantitative data and econometric work has also stimulated comparative analyses. However, the quality of such analyses is unequal. This chapter therefore addresses a number of methodological issues that researchers engaging in comparative research projects are faced with and aims at providing some guidelines for comparative empirical analysis in this field. The issues addressed in this chapter include comparability, case selection, qualitative versus quantitative approaches, the design of indicators, and the role of comparison in monitoring systems. To illustrate these issues, and the broader problématique of comparative regionalism, references to a selection of examples of comparative analysis of regionalisms are added. Because of space constraints, these examples are not discussed in detail here, but should be considered as suggestions for further reading. When looking at this (non-random) selection of examples, it will be clear that comparative research on regionalism is characterised by different definitions for the key concepts, different theoretical frameworks, different research questions, different comparators, different empirical methods, and different results. The problématique of comparative regionalism refers therefore to conceptual issues and theoretical issues as well as to empirical methods. The chapter is organised as follows: following this Introduction and section one, section two deals with conceptual issues, section three elucidates the choice of theoretical frameworks, section four examines various aspects of empirical research methodology, and section five concludes the essay.

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