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ARTICLE REVIEW

Name: Trisha Mae K. Deiparine Date: June 30, 2014


Course & Section: AB Political Science, A

Title of the Article:


Context Matters: The Challenges of Multicausality, Context-conditionality and
Endogeneity for Empirical Evaluation of Positive Theory in Comparative Politics

The article talks about the challenges of multicausality, context-conditionality and


endogeneity in studying comparative politics applying positive theoretical with the use of
empirical observation. The problem discussed throughout the article narrates the journey to the
acceptance of context matter- multicausality, context-conditionality and endogeneity and as the
article progress, the author use mathematical procedures to enhance its coherence and to
support his thesis statement.
The article clearly suggests that context matters, it really matters! Understanding-
beyond description as what he said in the conclusion. Before he proceed on the argument to
the use of multicausality, context-conditionality and endogeneity empirically to the study of
positive social science he went on narrating the centrality of it from the classical to the
contemporary comparative politics. From the start, modern day scholars favors categorical
enumeration than positive-theoretical analysis of constitutional details. Then the rise of fascism,
people south answers to the politys social structure, its socioeconomic progress and
sociopolitical cleavages. It came to the revolution of political culture and behavior wherein it
complemented to the movement of comparative politics from categorical enumeration to positive
social science.
Almon and Verbas book the Civic Culture exemplified it and introduced: the positive
questions, empirical questions. But accordingly remained vague that is limited only to 5
contexts. So, Inglehart reduced this limitation and introduced the use of large-sample analysis.
Thus to the emergence of social and political culture, and public opinion and behavior; these
became the main sources of independent variables but because of lack of explanation of socio-
structuralism the scholars went back to institutionalism. They argued that socioeconomic
structure works through: political, social and economic.
Since then the field is now full-circle. He explained, context matters in three ways:
multicausality, the context-conditional and the endogeneity are the most controversial to
empirical evaluation across all social science. He also illustrated: first, everything matters,
second X matters depend on almost everything and third, everything causes everything else.
The latter chapters explicitly discusses the challenges of this perspective in prospects of
correcting them.

Researchers had to choose between large-sample to limited information but he cited that
researchers must confine themselves and concentrate on few information since there could be
unnecessary extra-information that will not be needed anyway. Fundamental challenges for
empirical analysis raised by mantra that context matter, after the lacking of information
predicament that worsen it at most; multicausality was seen as a hope. But there were also
challenges that multicausality raises for empirical evaluation: the controlling of potentially
confusing factors and to the distinguishing of their explanatory impact, the omitted variable bias,
and the Achens rule of three.

Controlling and accepting many factors is dangerous, because of too many explanatory
factors, the included variable bias and the restraining (Achens rule of three). It was rejected by
comparativists. Concerns were raised in hopes of an actual empirical evaluation that
beforehand was limited by parochialism to the result of non-comparativeness or prewar
comparative politics that was considered as nonscientific. Again, context matters since
processes and outcomes differ uniquely. But then unfortunately it became descriptive rather
than comparative. Thus to establishment comparative-historical data which helps in evaluating
and informing positive theories in terms of the social structure. Since then the context-
conditional propositions is now the hallmark of Positive Comparative Politics.

Institutions play a big role in the polity that it acts as a mediator that shapes social,
political and economic interests. Context-conditionality does not limit the quantitative
approaches but instead demands more. The most controversial part of empirical evaluation of
positive theory in social science is the endogeneity since Xs cause Ys in vice versa, which the
author said. It is important to note that everything in the society interconnects, and that every
causes everything else you cannot separate endogeneity from it.

It definitely provided a new way to look at comparative politics. Understanding beyond


description, cited the author. He concluded if only we all share same means of communicating,
common goals and common understanding of standards for progress maybe one day the reader
of the article will successfully learn and utilized whats been discussed throughout. The article
provided another way of studying comparative politics. In such way it provokes the human in
you because we all know that we all share overarching goals in life, as mentioned by the
author. And that overarching tends to affect each individuals aspect of life. Because as to the
rise of civilization, people tend to acts in an enumerative systematic way and fazed away our
minds. Sometimes separated us from our true being; we are human. We are theoretical-
maniacs and that empirical evaluation can be subjective.

I had to admit the article at first made me confuse and puzzled. But while reading the
next chapters the discussion gradually starting to get clearer to me. Seems to me that in
comparative politics description is a must and that multicausality, change of outcomes when
paired with other potential cause and endogeneity is vital and it is inevitable in terms of its role
in affecting the society.

Although it is absurd to ask this, I wanted to ask if the author has a degree on
psychology. Since if I were to base on how he presented his article, he is very kind in his
approach and not too persuasive or controlling in a way that I felt like I was reading a novel,
except the dreaded part where I had to decipher the mathematical methods he used. And also I
wanted to ask about the part where he discussed too little/few information: quantitative and
qualitative because I did not honestly comprehend it. I want a simplified explanation for it,
because for me that part of the article is logorrheic.

However I did learn so many facts in this article (that for a moment I thought I had
amnesia. Because of knowledge overload, I had to stop for a while before proceeding to the
next chapter.)Too much parochialism hindered out political scientists to explain that it lacked
theoretical and empirical comparison. That because of the challenges of multicausality, context-
conditionality and endogeneity for empirical evaluation of positive theory, it brought upon the
existence of comparative-historical theory. And that because of context-conditionality it is now
trademark of what is now called the positive comparative politics. And also about the poor
mans exogeneity which means that things that happen in the past are assumed exogenous to
what happened later and one must be understanding beyond description.