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This chapter explores endogeneity, which is a problem of multidirectional causality. Rather than identifying clear cause and effect relationships, social science research is often challenged by factors that mutually cause each other. Indeed, causality patterns in social science research are inherently complex. Three prominent challenges contribute to undermining a simple cause and effect logic. One is multicausality, meaning that the outcomes one tries to explain or predict have multiple causes. The second is that the effects of an explanatory variable can depend on the values of one or more other potential factors in the context, commonly referred to as context-conditionality. However, the most challenging problem to empirical inference when trying to identify unidirectional, necessary, and sufficient causes is endogeneity. As long as there is a chance that endogeneity exists, unbiased empirical findings are impossible.

Chapter

K. M. Fierke

This chapter examines the key debates that have shaped the development of constructivism in International Relations (IR). It first considers the idea that international relations is a social construction, as it emerged from the critique of more traditional theories of IR. It then explores the distinctions among various constructivisms, with particular emphasis on the contrast between those who seek a ‘better’ social science, and hence better theory, versus those who argue that constructivism is an approach that rests on assumptions at odds with those of positivist method. The chapter proceeds by discussing constructivists’ critique of rationalism, along with constructivism as a ‘middle ground’ between rationalist and poststructuralist approaches to IR. It also analyses the role of language and causality in the debate between rationalists and constructivists. Finally, it links all these insights to the War on Terror and the war on Covid-19.

Chapter

Sierens Vivien and Ramona Coman

This chapter studies causation, which occupies a central place in the social sciences. In their attempts to understand and explain ‘why’ social, economic, and political phenomena occur, scholars have dealt with causality in many different ways. The way to define and observe causal relationships has always been at the heart of harsh academic debates in social as well as natural sciences. Drawing on distinctive ontological and epistemological standpoints, at least four different understandings of causation have emerged in political science. Most authors have adopted a correlational-probabilistic understanding of causation, but some have preferred a configurational one, while others have adopted a mechanistic or even a counterfactual understanding. To illustrate the concrete methodological challenges generated by this theoretical pluralism, the chapter discusses how scholars have dealt with causality to explain the impact of European integration on domestic policies and institutions.

Chapter

K. M. Fierke

This chapter examines the key debates that have shaped the development of constructivism in International Relations (IR). It first considers the idea that international relations is a social construction, as it emerged from the critique of more traditional theories of IR. It then explores the distinctions among various constructivisms, with particular emphasis on the contrast between those who seek a ‘better’ social science, and hence better theory, versus those who argue that constructivism is an approach that rests on assumptions at odds with those of positivist method. The chapter proceeds by discussing constructivists' critique of rationalism, along with constructivism as a ‘middle ground’ between rationalist and poststructuralist approaches to IR. It also analyses the role of language and causality in the debate between rationalists and constructivists. Finally, it links all these insights to the War on Terror.

Chapter

This chapter extends the principles of bivariate analysis to multivariate analysis, which takes into account more than one independent variable and the dependent variable. With multivariate analysis, it is possible to investigate the impact of multiple factors on a dependent variable of interest, and to compare the explanatory power of rival hypotheses. Multivariate analysis can also be used to develop and test multi-causal explanations of political phenomena. After providing an overview of the principles of multivariate analysis, and the different types of analytical question to which they can be applied, the chapter shows how multivariate analysis is carried out for statistical control purposes. More specifically, it explains the use of ordinary least squares (OLS) regression and logistic regression, the latter of which builds on cross-tabulation, to carry out multivariate analysis. It also discusses the use of multivariate analysis to debunk spurious relationships and to illustrate indirect causality.

Chapter

This chapter addresses determinism, which has been the predominant mode of perceiving the universe in modern sciences. The basic assumption is that any event is the effect of an external cause. Generally speaking, biological determinism focuses on the biological causes of events, whereas social sciences focus on the social causes. This mode of perceiving the social universe is typically associated with positivism and, more specifically, social naturalism — or the idea that there is no significant difference between social phenomena and natural phenomena. In this logic, it is assumed that social scientists can and should discover ‘social laws’ — or universal relations of causality between a social cause and a social effect. However, determinism in the social sciences has been criticized since its very beginning. In response to these critiques, many social scientists have adopted various forms of ‘soft’ determinism. The chapter then considers social predictions and probabilism.