Path: janda.org/c10 > Syllabus > Outline > Topics and Readings > Quantitative Analysis > Statistics and the Logic of Inquiry

 Quantitatitive Analysis in Political Research: Lecture 2 Statistics and the Logic of Inquiry Lecture 2  Statistics and theory Two types of theory in political science: normative and empirical Traditionally, "political theory" was concerned with normative matters -- "political philosophy" 1.Examples of normative concepts: freedom, order, equality 2.Examples of normative analysis: conflict between freedom and order, between freedom and equality Statistical analysis is concerned with empirical theory. Quantification in general forces one to become more rigorous in making statements Rigorous theoretical thinking requires careful attention to form and content of statements. Two types of statements SINGULAR: about particular things--Clinton is a Democrat. GENERALIZATIONS: Republicans are more conservative than Democrats. Two types of generalizations: Deterministic (E=mc2) and probabilistic Statistical analysis is concerned with testing the "truth value" of probabilistic generalizations Statistics is best suited for analysis of similar social processes rather than unique events. Theoretical assertions about these events must be explicit and unequivocal -- they must be FALSIFIABLE. Science advances more readily through error than confusion. Two types of statistics: DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS: describe and summarize data INFERENTIAL STATISTICS: Generalize beyond data at hand Evaluate differences between groups Estimate unknown values Our course will be organized to take up descriptive statistics first, then the more complex inferential statistics Statistical analysis should be tied closely to theory construction. What is an empirical theory? A theory is a set of interrelated propositions A proposition is a statement of relationship between concepts A concept is a general idea for grouping phenomena as similar Example: politicoeconomic mini-theory (from Bohrnstedt and Knocke:Statistics for Social Data Analysis) Propositions P1: Economic instability generates disaffection with the national political regime P2: Disaffection with the national regime strengthens the opposition political forces Deduction: P3: Economic instability increases strength of political opposition Theoretical terms Scope conditions: space time Units of analysis: individuals, spatial aggregates of individuals, organizations Testing a theory Remember, the goal is to render it FALSIFIABLE The abstract concepts in the proposition must be made concrete Done through operationalization The specified "operations" that must be performed to measure the concept Often multiple indicators of complex concepts are desirable, but we will consider only single indicators here. Example of the politicoeconomic mini-theory: Economic instability --------> high inflation rates disaffection with national regime ----> negative attitudes toward the president's economic policies strengthens the opposition's political forces ----> increases support for party not in the White House Adequacy of operationalizations validity -- or accuracy reliability Causal terminology for concepts or variables in a theory Independent variable -- the causal agent Dependent variable -- the caused variable Graph of the mini-theory Propositional form: ECONOMIC DISAFFECTION WITH STRENGTHENING INSTABILITY --> NATIONAL REGIME --> OPPOSITION Hypothesis: HIGH LOW PRESIDENTIAL VOTE AGAINST INFLATION --> POPULARITY --> INCUMBENT