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Process tracing: a laudable aim or a high-tariff methodology?

Abstract : It was with considerable pleasure and enthusiasm that I accepted the invitation of Christine Trampusch and Bruno Palier, the editors of this special issue, to respond to their small but excellent collection of papers on process tracing in political economy. Like them (Trampusch and Palier 2016), I am convinced that what they and others typically call process tracing can, if appropriately (and, indeed, sparingly) used, help open the black box of causation in social, political and economy systems; it can, in short, help us fashion better explanations of social, political and economic outcomes. I am also convinced, like them, that the clarification of what process tracing actually entails methodologically, as is the principal aim of this special issue, will help us better make that case. In the, alas, all too limited space I have, I cannot and hence do not seek to provide a detailed commentary and reflection on each of the papers in this collection. Instead, I will keep my comments very general – using, as my point of departure, the editors’ very useful framing essay. I will confine myself to three appreciative, though at the same time critical yet I hope constructive, observations in the hope of advancing the debate.
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Colin Hay. Process tracing: a laudable aim or a high-tariff methodology?. New Political Economy, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2016, 21 (5), pp.500 - 504. ⟨hal-01402932⟩

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