Process Tracing

Part of the Research Methods Series book series (REMES)


‘This argument is too structural. It’s under-determined and based on unrealistic assumptions. Moreover, it tells us little about how the world really works.’ Among many scholars – the present author included – this is an oft-heard set of complaints. Consider two examples. The central thesis of the democratic peace literature – that democracies do not fight other democracies – is hailed as one of the few law-like propositions in international relations. Yet, as critics rightly stress, we know amazingly little about the mechanisms generating such peaceful relations (Rosato 2003: 585–6, passim; Forum 2005; Hamberg 2005). And scholars have for years debated the identity-shaping effects of European institutions. One claim is that bureaucrats ‘go native’ in Brussels, adopting European values at the expense of national ones. Yet, here too, critics correctly note that we know virtually nothing about the process and mechanisms underlying these potentially transformative dynamics (Checkel 2005a,b).


Causal Mechanism European Institution National Minority Mover Advantage Causal Complexity 
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© Jeffrey T. Checkel 2008

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