HomeInternational comparison: methods and challenges

International comparison: methods and challenges

La comparaison internationale : méthodes et enjeux

Comparación internacional: métodos y problemas

Journal Espaces et sociétés

Revue Espaces et sociétés

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Published on Thursday, July 18, 2013 by Élodie Faath

Summary

Espaces et sociétés raises the issue of the aims of international comparison in its specific scientific field: the relationship between societies and their spaces. This themed issue intends to discuss the challenges and methodologies at stake in comparative research. The aim is not to present data extracted from an international comparison, but to focus on the epistemological and methodological challenges in the process of their production.

Announcement

Argument

In their respective fields, the sociologist Emile Durkheim and the historian Marc Bloch identified comparison as a major research tool. Today, from a different perspective, European Union (EU) research programmes encourage research units of various countries to work together to produce international comparisons, the aim of the EU being the promotion of an emerging European scientific community.

However, the comparative approach is not often attempted at the international level as it faces many theoretical and practical obstacles. A partnership between research units from different countries does not necessarily produce a valid international comparison. What does comparing mean? How is comparison possible when concepts, methods and statistical tools are different from one country to the other? Over-eagerness for international comparison runs the risk of losing clarity and giving room for doubt: Comparing what is not comparable is an impossible task. Furthermore, comparison is expensive and research funds are restricted.

However, the comparative approach is not often attempted at the international level as it faces many theoretical and practical obstacles. A partnership between research units from different countries does not necessarily produce a valid international comparison. What does comparing mean? How is comparison possible when concepts, methods and statistical tools are different from one country to the other? Over-eagerness for international comparison runs the risk of losing clarity and giving room for doubt: Comparing what is not comparable is an impossible task. Furthermore, comparison is expensive and research funds are restricted.

Espaces et Sociétés raises the issue of the aims of international comparison in its specific scientific field: the relationship between societies and their spaces. This themed issue intends to discuss the challenges and methodologies at stake in comparative research. It aims to be a contribution to an assessment of comparative practices in the following two directions:

  • Challenges: they are first theoretical and linguistic, produced by the circulation of concepts describing social and spatial factors, for example how the notions of segregation, ghetto, gentrification, sustainable city, etc. are used. Challenges also are methodological and practical with the aim of building frames of reference for international data collection (for example, ERANET in 2008).
  • Methods and experiments: while many researchers claim today to do comparative research very few look reflexively at what is going on in this process. Beyond the restitution of a specific scientific experiment, authors are invited to question how a comparative frame gives birth to new research forms. In other words, the aim is to understand which concepts and methods are either imposed or excluded, and which theoretical and conceptual problems arise when researchers find that they have to adapt their tools and their language to foreign contexts and/or partners.

Proposals may offer:

  • Reflexive analyses on a comparative research process.
  • Critical and theoretical discussion of the impact of international comparison on disciplinary and epistemological issues.
  • Questions and critical analyses either on the presumed link between the globalisation of the urban world and of the social sciences, or on new conceptualisations emerging from international comparisons in the field of the relationship between societies and their spaces.

The aim is not to present data extracted from an international comparison but to focus on the epistemological and methodological challenges as they are produced in the process. In other words, we want to open the “black box” of comparison. Reflexivity is essential.

Coordinators

Maurice Blanc and Olivier Chadoin

Deadlines

  • 31st May 2014: deadline for submission

  • 30th june 2014: authors’ information

Address

Preferably by e-mail

or 4 paper copies:

Maurice Blanc
Institut d'urbanisme et d'aménagement régional
Faculté des sciences sociales
Université de Strasbourg
22 rue Descartes – Le Patio
67084 Strasbourg cedex

Potential authors with doubts on the relevance of their proposal may contact the co-ordinators

Notes:

  • Only full articles are taken into account.
  • Papers should be under 42 000 signs (including spaces notes, references and appendixes (but not abstracts).
  • Advice to authors is included in each issue.
  • Advice to authors and presentation norms of manuscripts are available on the website:  http://www.espacesetsocietes.msh-paris.fr/conseils.html

Places

  • 22 rue Descartes – Le Patio
    Strasbourg, France (67)

Date(s)

  • Saturday, May 31, 2014

Keywords

  • recherche urbaine, méthodologie, international, comparaison, urban research, methodology, international, comparison

Contact(s)

  • Joëlle Jacquin
    courriel : Espacesetsocietes [at] msh-paris [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Joëlle Jacquin
    courriel : Espacesetsocietes [at] msh-paris [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« International comparison: methods and challenges », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, July 18, 2013, https://calenda.org/255914

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