The rationality of drawing big conclusions based on small samples: In defense of mill’s methods

Jukka Savolainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Skocpol endorses the application of Mill’s methods of causal inference for comparative historical explanations. According to Lieberson (1991), in studies where the sample size is very small, Mill’s methods are inappropriate because they: (1) do not allow for probabilistic theories; (2) cannot handle interaction effects; (3) cannot accommodate multiple causes; (4) require the absence of measurement errors. Each of these claims turn out to be incorrect due to confusion over the uses of Mill’ methods, failure to appreciate the aims of case-oriented explanations, and a narrow conception of cause. Small sample size does not constitute an obstacle to the application of Mill’s methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1217-1224
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Forces
Volume72
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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