PS 549 focuses on the twin processes of conceptualization and measurement in the social sciences. While all empirical analysis depends on the meaningful definition of concepts and their appropriate measurement, these critical steps of research are often given surprisingly little attention. To remedy this, we spend time constructing a framework for developing and evaluating “good” concepts, before turning to the process of measurement. After considering the challenges of measurement, in the abstract, we turn our attention to specific measurement challenges implied by different data sources: observation, surveys, experiments, images, and words.
Although technically listed as a seminar in comparative politics, PS 549 is designed to engage graduate students from all subfields of political science, as well as those studying other social sciences. Readings highlight perspectives from different subfields, and students are encouraged to focus on those that appeal to them most. Similarly, readings aim to cover different substantive topics, from individual behavior and institutional quality, to cooperation and conflict.