Click here for the video recording of the short online introduction to Process Tracing Methods that I offered together with Derek Beach (@Beach_MethodMan) on Feb 24, 2022.
Considering I discuss it in detail, I recommend you have a look at Winward (2021)* before you watch the video. But you can find other reading suggestions at the bottom of the video explainer still. Enjoy!
To the attention of all Process Tracing enthusiasts: Derek Beach (@beach_methodman) and I will offer a *free* short online course: “A short introduction to Process Tracing Methods”, Feb 24, online 14:00-15:30 CET.
For registration, simply send a short message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you the zoom-link. All information about this event can also be found at the MethodsNET website.
The aim of this short introductory session is to provide participants with an understanding of the core elements of Process tracing methods and how they can be used in practical research. Process tracing is a research method designed to learn how things work in real-world cases. Increasingly used across the social sciences and in applied policy evaluation, process tracing involves unpacking causal processes as they play out within cases and tracing them empirically, enabling within-case causal inferences about the processes that link causes and outcomes together.
The session begins with an introduction of the theory-side of what we are actually tracing, followed by a discussion of what types of empirical evidence can be used to trace causal processes (aka mechanisms). We will use the example of the article by Winward (2020) to illustrate what Process tracing can look like in practice. The final part of the session introduces principles of case selection and generalization. After this, there will be plenty of time for questions from participants.
• Beach (forthcoming) Process Tracing Methods in Social Science. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Revised edition.
• Winward M. 2020. Intelligence Capacity and Mass Violence: Evidence From Indonesia. Comparative Political Studies, 54(3-4):553-584.
Over the course of five days we will discuss what causal mechanisms are, how they advance our understanding of (social) phenomena, what it means to study them, and what conclusions can be drawn on the basis of a PT. The course takes a ‘hands-on’ approach and encourages participants to apply theoretical insights to their own research projects. It provides all the basic skills to set-up and follow through an independent PT-study.
Venue: Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands Regular course fee: €575 Early bird fee: €518 or €431 Application deadline: 1 May 2022 Course dates: 20-24 June 2022 More information and registration: here!
Not the first, and hopefully not the last, on December 16-17 I was back at the BIGSSS offering an Advanced Process Tracing Workshop. The first online–which came with a whole new set of challenges–but, I hope, successful nonetheless.
Drawn from this database, we look specifically at the UNSC debates on the situation in Afghanistan between 1995-2017 and conduct a speaker-topic network analysis to see who spoke when and about what.
Our focus is on the UN bureaucrats. We show that the UN secretariat and other representatives play an active role even in a venue were bureaucratic agency seems unlikely—the UNSC. The paper has both a quantitative and qualitative component.
In the quantitative component we combine Structural Topic Modeling and Network Analysis techniques to observe ‘speaker position’, ‘topic introduction’, and ‘topic evolution’. We observe the UN bureaucracy, at times, acts as an autonomous speechmaker introducing and pushing its own topics.
In the qualitative component we explore the concrete contributions the Secretariat made in relation to the topic ‘security and reform’. We show officials tabled a controversial policy option—expanding int. troops beyond Kabul—that was eventually accepted by the UNSC.
Overall, we find that bureaucrats—even in the UNSC—are able to (co-)shape what is considered relevant, how particular problems are understood, and, ultimately, what solutions are under consideration.
To really wake up from my COVID-hybernation, I’ll join the European International Studies Association Pan-European Conference this week. I will be on two panels actively (see below) and hopefully many more in the audience.
I’ll be joining pandemic-style, though. Just as my husband is away for a real live workshop, my 22-month-old decided now is a good time to fall ill…
As I am slowly, ever so slowly, awakening from a two year hectic slumber–hectic because new born baby, COVID-19, lockdowns, and continued teaching; slumber because what really happened academically/intellectually was fairly little–, I visited my website for the first time in, well, a year and a half and realised that it is time for an up-date!
I have much to be exited about: Methods teaching resuming, conference participations to announce and, most of all, the start of my MSC-fellowship. For now, I will just leave it at a short pledge that, from now on, I will keep this side up-to-date again.
Social Distance in International Relations (SoDiIR)
I am thrilled to announce that I obtained an Individual Fellowship under the EU Horizon2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions for my project on Social Distance in International Relations (SoDiIR)!
The below gives you a bit of a preview of what I will do… but more will come.
To offer a more comprehensive account of humanitarian selectivity, this project studies the socio-emotional microfoundations of foreign policy decisions. I look specifically at ‘social distance’ and the emotional reactions and socio-emotional norms that shape people’s, and therewith countries’, political priorities and willingness to engage with the hardship of others.
Whilst international relations are generally understood as a set of inter-state relations, I explicitly look at international relations as a set of socio-emotional relations between people(s). From this perspective states are not unitary actors. They are constituted by the people that live inside them and the ideas, norms, pre-dispositions and historical understandings that dominate in a society. Within this socio-normative context, a context that enables certain and constrains other types of behaviour, events are interpreted and reactions to those events are formulated. Although generally distinguishing between civil society and the distinct group of (foreign policy) ‘decision makers’, only recently have IR-scholars started to study the people that constitute the state as emotional beings. Building on this constructivist literature on emotions in IR, I am interested in how narratives on human suffering are created, the extent to which they are influenced by socio-emotional relations between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ – the experienced social distance – and how these narratives ultimately inform foreign policy.
I’ll be offering an introductory course on process tracing methodology at the upcoming ECPR Winter School in Methods and Techniques, February 14-21, at the University of Bamberg. For more information and a full course outline: ECPR website. Or, for more on my process tracing activities; see here.
… and the course is booked out! With 25 students we will have a full house. Luckily, I could recruit an excellent Teaching Assistant: Ivan Bakalov.
WB104 – Introduction to Process Tracing
Process Tracing (PT) is a within-case method that focuses on tracing causal mechanisms – the actual ‘link’ between a trigger (conventionally called the x) and an outcome (y). This course will introduce you to the essentials of this method, its main underlying assumptions and its applicability.
We will discuss what causal mechanisms are, how we can ‘trace’ them and what kind of causal inferences we can draw on the bases of a process-tracing study. Moreover, to position PT in the broader methodological field we will look at how PT relates to, but differs from, other (larger- and small-N) case study methods and discuss what understanding of causality underlies process-tracing. This introduction to PT will take a hands-on approach, applying the new insights to concrete examples and, when possible, to participants’ own research projects (more…).