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A Tale of Two CulturesQualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences$
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Gary Goertz and James Mahoney

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149707

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149707.001.0001

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Causal Mechanisms and Process Tracing

Causal Mechanisms and Process Tracing

Chapter:
(p.100) Chapter 8 Causal Mechanisms and Process Tracing
Source:
A Tale of Two Cultures
Author(s):

Gary Goertz

James Mahoney

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691149707.003.0008

This chapter examines how the qualitative and quantitative research traditions empirically assess theories about mechanisms when making causal inferences. In the qualitative paradigm, researchers carry out this assessment by attempting to observe causal mechanisms through process tracing and through the analysis of causal-process observations. In the qualitative paradigm, the within-case analysis of specific cases is combined with the effort to observe mechanisms. By contrast, statistical methods are not designed to observe mechanisms within particular cases. The chapter considers the importance of mechanisms in causal inference as well as the use of process tracing in multimethod vs. qualitative research. It shows that multimethod research, which integrates regression and case study analysis, is increasingly regarded as a best practice.

Keywords:   quantitative research, causal inference, process tracing, causal-process observations, within-case analysis, statistical method, qualitative research, multimethod research, regression, causal mechanism

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