Validation Strategies in Historical Sociology (and beyond)

Ivan Ermakoff, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Validation is a linchpin of scientific rigor. The purpose of this paper is therefore to identify and critically assess the different validation strategies that have been used in comparative-historical sociology. When we survey validation practices and setups with a close attention to the nitty-gritty of their modus operandi, seven types become discernable: descriptive fits, observable implications, counterfactuals, natural experiments, inductive comparisons, process tracing and simulation. Assessing the ins and outs of these validation practices points to methodological and analytical challenges that acquire particular salience when the focus is on historically defined objects.

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 Presented in Session 195. New Frontiers in Social Science Historical Methods