Journal article Open Access

Two ways to compare

Schaffer, Frederic Charles

In taking up the task of “rethinking comparison in the social sciences,” we might gainfully ask a basic, but not-too-often posed, question: What are the different ways to compare? Or to rephrase the query more precisely: What are the different ways in which we ordinarily use the word “compare”? My aim in posing this question is to bring into clearer view a way of comparing that, despite being both common and integral to the social sciences, often goes unnoticed. By drawing attention to it, I hope to provide social scientists with a set of starting points to think more clearly about the comparisons they make and to expand their imagination about the kinds of comparing that are possible.

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