Explanatory Typologies in Qualitative Studies of International Politics
Explanatory typologies are powerful tools in the qualitative study of international politics. They are likely to be most valuable when scholars systematically apply shared techniques. This article provides an account of analytic steps used in working with typologies, and an accessible vocabulary to describe them. These analytic steps are illustrated with concrete examples drawn from prominent versions of offensive structural, defensive structural, and neoclassical realism. Five forms of cell compressionârescaling and indexing, as well as logical, empirical, and pragmatic compressionâare considered, along with the drawbacks associated with each. The expansion of a partial typology and the rediscovery of deleted cells are also discussed. Finally, the article considers the potential drawbacks of a typological approach, and argues that scholars must be mindful of the risks of reification and of relabeling anomalies.I am especially grateful to David Collier for extensive critiques of several drafts of this article. Stephen G. Walker, Miriam Fendius Elman, James Mahoney, Gary Goertz, Reilly O'Neal, John Gerring, Bear Braumoeller, Lisa Martin, two anonymous reviewers, and the participants at the January 2004 Institute for Qualitative Research Methods at Arizona State University provided valuable comments. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Ryan Davis, Michael Jensen and Mallory Hutchison provided greatly appreciated research assistance. Templates for dichotomous and trichotomous four-variable property spaces are available from email@example.com.