The Return of the Single-Country Study

Posted: 28 May 2019

See all articles by Thomas B. Pepinsky

Thomas B. Pepinsky

Cornell University - Department of Government

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2019


This article reviews the changing status of single-country research in comparative politics, a field defined by the concept of comparison. An analysis of single-country research published in top general interest and comparative politics journals reveals that single-country research has evolved from an emphasis on description and theory generation to an emphasis on hypothesis testing and research design. This change is a result of shifting preferences for internal versus external validity combined with the quantitative and causal inference revolutions in the social sciences. A consequence of this shift is a change in substantive focus from macropolitical phenomena to micro-level processes, with consequences for the ability of comparative politics to address many substantive political phenomena that have long been at the center of the field.

Suggested Citation

Pepinsky, Thomas B., The Return of the Single-Country Study (May 2019). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, pp. 187-203, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Thomas B. Pepinsky (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Government ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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