The Department of Government
The Department of Government

John Gerring

ProfessorPhD, UC Berkeley

John Gerring



John Gerring (PhD, University of California at Berkeley, 1993) is Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches courses on methodology and comparative politics. He is the author of Party Ideologies in America, 1828-1996 (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework (Cambridge University Press, 2d. ed. 2012), Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Cambridge University Press, 2d. ed. 2017), A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2008), Concepts and Method: Giovanni Sartori and His Legacy (Routledge, 2009; with David Collier), Applied Social Science Methodology: An Introductory Guide (Cambridge University Press, 2017; with Dino Christenson), along with numerous articles. He served as a fellow of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), as a member of The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Evaluation of USAID Programs to Support the Development of Democracy, as President of the American Political Science Association’s Organized Section on Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, and as a fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame. He has received grants from the Clinton Global Initiative, the National Science Foundation, and the World Bank. He is co-editor of Strategies for Social Inquiry, a book series at Cambridge University Press. He also serves as co-PI of Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) and the Global Leadership Project (GLP).


GOV 370L • Problems In Us Politics

38405 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 304

Please check back for updates.

Prerequisite: Six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.


GOV 385L • Rsch Meth/Qual Anly In Soc Sci

38930 • Spring 2017
Meets W 9:30AM-12:30PM BAT 5.102

GOV 385L

Research Methods/Qualitative Analysis in Social Science

W 9:30-12:30pm, BAT 5.102


John Gerring

Tel: 512-232-7254

Office: BAT 3.126

Office hours: W 1:30-4:30



This graduate course provides an introduction to methodological issues faced in empirical work of a qualitative nature.

      Students should appreciate that this is a difficult matter to define and that – regardless of how defined – issues faced by qualitative research are not so different from issues faced by quantitative research.

      The course highlights what I believe to be the most practical, hands-on aspects of qualitative research. Larger philosophical discussions are relegated to a small section at the end of the semester.

      Although the course should be relevant to any style of research it is primarily oriented to work that aims toward general theories of social behavior – where the scope of the inference is larger than the topic under study.

      There are no pre-requisites, although students are presumed to have a grounding in core issues of social science methodology.

How to approach this course

This course is one of a handful you will take as part of your degree. It offers an opportunity learn a lot about methodology. I have structured the course as best I can to facilitate this. However, what you take away from this course is primarily up to you. Think of this course as an opportunity to learn rather than a hoop that you must jump through. Think of me as a facilitator. It will be more fun that way, for me and for you.


Your grade for this class will be comprised of (a) participation (attendance, class discussion) (20%) and (b) weekly assignments (80%).

Attendance, Deadlines

Since the class meets a limited number of times throughout the semester, only one excused absence (beyond the first class meeting, which is largely organizational) will be granted. Late papers will also be penalized. No excused absences, makeups, extensions, or incompletes will be granted without documentation of medical, religious or personal reasons, or for official university business. If you will be missing class for religious reasons you must inform me of these dates during the first week of class.


I will begin some class meetings with a lecture. However, lectures are intended to supplement, not replace, that week’s readings. There is no way that I can present all the material in lecture format. There is simply too much. Nor would it be helpful for me to spoon-feed it to you. So, make sure that you do the reading carefully (don’t depend on me to synthesize it) and ask questions about subjects raised in the readings that you do not understand. I will endeavor to explain them, or direct you to more specialized readings that do so.

Class participation

Whether this course is fun and enlightening, or dreary and mystifying, will depend primarily upon your contribution. In particular, it will depend upon active participation from every student in every session. I consider this to be your responsibility. You are part of a collegial profession, and this means sharing your thoughts on the material under discussion – assigned readings as well as papers written by your peers.

If you need an additional incentive, consider this: students must participate regularly in order to get a good grade in this class. Shyness, or unfamiliarity with the English language, is no excuse. This is a talking profession. Yadayadayada.

Please be attentive to standard rules of decorum: avoid dogmatism, respect others’ views, and try to move class discussion forward (pay attention to what others say and respond to the previous point). Do not email, Facebook, browse the web, or engage with unrelated material on your laptop while the class is in session.


For most class meetings there is a short assignment. I hesitate to impose a uniform page or word limit, as the length needed for a given topic vary and are hard to predict. As a ballpark, let’s say 2-5 pages, single-spaced. But bear in mind that length is one of the least important aspects of your work for this class. Please turn in the assignment – by posting it on Canvas – two days prior to class.

Final Exam

The final exam will cover everything -- all required reading and all in-class discussion. (Many of the questions on the final will have been discussed in class.) It is a closed-book, closed-note test – just you and the exam. I strongly encourage you to study in small groups for the final.


The reading for graduate courses is extensive; this course is no exception. As it is, we are barely scratching the surface of this vast subject matter. Each week’s reading will probably take you more than one night to get through. Do not wait until the night before to start reading.

      Note also that some of the readings are chosen for their heuristic value, not necessarily for their methodological rigor. Just because a book or article appears on this syllabus does not mean that it has received a seal of approval from the rabbinical council.

      Most of the assigned readings are available for purchase or can be downloaded from the web. Others will be posted on Canvas. Please let me know ASAP if you cannot obtain a reading so I can straighten things out. And please bring all required readings to class (or have them accessible on your laptop) so that we can refer to specific passages.

      Additional readings on these and other subjects are contained in an on-line bibliography – the Methods Coordination Project (MCP), posted at CQRM.

To purchase

Brady, Henry, David Collier, eds. 2010. Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, second ed. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

Gerring, John. 2012. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework, 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hochschild, Arlie. 2016. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. New Press.

Howell, Martha, Walter Prevenier. 2001. From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Mosley, Layna (ed). 2013. Interview Research in Political Science. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Pre-publication versions available on Canvas

Gerring, John. 2017. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [not yet in print]

Gerring, John, Dino Christenson. 2017. Applied Social Science Methodology: An Introductory Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [not yet in print]


Box-Steffensmeier, Janet, Henry Brady, David Collier (eds). 2008. The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brady, Henry E., David Collier (eds). 2010. Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, 2d ed. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Dunning, Thad. 2012. Natural Experiments in the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane, Sidney Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Morgan, Stephen L., Christopher Winship. 2014. Counterfactuals and Causal Inference: Methods and Principles for Social Research, 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [advanced]



Causality (TBA)


Gerring, John. 2012. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chapters 3-4, 8-12]


This section is included by way of background. I assume that most students have already read the book or are familiar with the material, which I will review using PPT during class. For those who are not, please read these chapters carefully as they are essential for the rest of the course.

Finding a Topic (TBA)


Gerring, John. 2012. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chapter 2]


Develop an idea for a paper that might be publishable, someday. It may be an idea that you’ve toyed with for some time, and perhaps something that will become part of your dissertation. However, I don’t want you to recycle work that you’ve done previously. I want you to come up with something new, or at least partly new. Write down the idea in brief form - theory, main hypothesis, projected research design, and anticipated difficulties or unknowns. State what you think has been done on this subject before, but don’t worry about a complete literature review. As the final element of this assignment, evaluate your proposal on the following dimensions: (a) importance of the subject, (b) theoretical novelty (how much would it change our view of the subject?), (c) strength and novelty of the research design, (d) feasibility.

Case Studies

Defining the Topic and Selecting Cases (TBA)


Gerring, John. 2017. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Parts I-II]


Identify a general topic that you think might benefit from a case study approach. It may be the topic of your dissertation, or something else that you’ve worked on in the past. Employ one (or more) of the case-selection approaches detailed in the book to choose a case, or cases, for intensive study. (If you don’t think that any of the case-selection methods in the book do the job, then develop your own approach.)

Analysis (TBA)


Collier, David. 2011. “Understanding Process Tracing,” PS: Political Science and Politics 44:4, 823-830.  See also Collier, David, “Teaching Process Tracing: Examples and Exercises.”

Gerring, John. 2017. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Part III]

Waldner, David. 2015. “What Makes Process Tracing Good? Causal Mechanisms, Causal Inference, and the Completeness Standard in Comparative Politics.” In Bennett and Checkel, eds., Process Tracing in the Social Sciences: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).


Choose an event, or set of events, with which you are familiar (or would like to become familiar). It must be a topic about which enough source materials exist – or can be gathered – in order to piece together a fairly complete picture of what went on. (Source materials might be anything – interviews, archives, secondary works,…) And it must be an outcome that can be tied to a generalizable causal argument. Having chosen your event(s), process-trace it – i.e., try to reach a determination about what factor(s) caused an outcome, and what factors probably did not. Reflect on the strength and weaknesses of your work and contrast this approach with others that might be taken to the same general subject.

Validity, Conclusions (TBA)


Gerring, John. 2017. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Parts IV-V]


Choose a case study (following the definition provided in the book) that you think is especially successful in reaching some sort of generalizable causal or descriptive inference. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of that case study and compare it with other approaches that have been, or might be, taken to that subject.

Description and Data Collection

Concepts (TBA)


Gerring, John. 2012. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chapter 5]

Sartori, Giovanni1970. “Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics,” American Political Science Review 64(4): 1033–1046.


Choose a term, A, that you are familiar with and about which there are significant disagreements or ambiguities. Survey near-synonyms, clarifying how they compare and contrasts with A. Survey definitions and usages of A, reducing this plenitude of information to a small number of dimensions in a single table. Explain why authors choose to define the term in different ways. What is the point of these different definitions? Construct minimal and maximal definitions for A that might serve general readers well. Propose a definition (which might be minimal or maximal) that you think is likely to be most useful, perhaps with an eye to your own work. Why is this definition better (on some dimension) than others?

Description and Measurement, generally considered (TBA)


Gerring, John. 2012. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chapters 3, 6-7]

Gerring, John. 2012. “Mere Description.” British Journal of Political Science 42:4 (October) 721-46.

Gerring, John, Dino Christenson. 2016. An Applied Guide to Social Science Methodology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chapter 13]


Identify a descriptive question that you think is important. The question must be a general one, applicable to a broad population. (Unacceptable: Who shot JR?  Acceptable: What sort of people are shot on television?) Briefly outline work that has been done on this subject, or might be done. Questions to consider: How convincing is this work (or how convincing could it be)? What are the obstacles to inference? Is it (or would it be) recognized as important within the disciplines of political science (or other social sciences)? Is it as important as causal questions that might be raised in connection with this subject?

Interviewing (TBA)


Mosley, Layna (ed). 2013. Interview Research in Political Science. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Leech, Beth L. 2002. “Asking Questions: Techniques for Semistructured Interviews.” PS: Political Science and Politics 35(4): 665--‐668. 02001129a.pdf&code=692be0f3bb7bddde6cb278dbfe6e39fd


If you have already conducted interviews, you may use this as the basis for your assignment. If not, conduct a fresh interview that is related in some way to your research, or to some research that you might pursue in the future. The interview may be conducted in person or by phone/skype. Now, write up your experience. How did you choose whom to interview? How did you prepare for the interview? What purpose did you hope the interview would serve? Was the interview successful? In what way(s)? Did you learn something new? Do you feel the respondent was honest and forthcoming? Why, or why not? Are there other questions you would like to have asked? Are there background issues that you feel you should have known more about prior to the interview?

Ethnography (TBA)


Fenno, Jr., Richard F. 1986. “Observation, Context, and Sequence in the Study of Politics.” American Political Science Review 80:1 (March) 3-15.

Hochschild, Arlie. 2016. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. New Press.

Interviews w/ Hochschild (optional):


Did Hochschild succeed in what she set out to do? Was ethnography a good tool for that purpose? Was it the best tool? To what extent did she (or should she) integrate other sorts of data? Was Hochschild addressing (generalizable) causal questions? Would ethnography work for that purpose?

Archives and Secondary Sources (TBA)


Harrison, Hope.  “Inside the SED Archives: A Researcher's Diary.” CWIHP bulletin.

Howell, Martha, Walter Prevenier. 2001. From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Lieshout, Robert H., Mathieu L.L. Segers, Anna M. van der Vleuten. 2004. “De Gaulle, Moravcsik, and The Choice for Europe.” Journal of Cold War Studies 6:4 (Fall) 89-139.  [skim]


Do some work in an archive. Lots of archives are now available on-line. Alternatively, you can make a trip to one of the archives on campus or in the Austin area. Hopefully, you can find an archive that addresses a question of interest to you, perhaps related to your dissertation work. If you have already done archival work you may draw on this for the assignment. Your assignment: discuss your archival experience. What did you set out to discover? Did you find it? How conclusive was your finding? How did your findings fit with what other sources say, or with common wisdom? Was archival work more useful than other approaches that might have been taken to this question?

Guest appearances:

Bat Sparrow

Coding (TBA)


Coppedge, Michael, John Gerring, Staffan I. Lindberg, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, et al. 2015. “Varieties of Democracy: Methodology.” [posted at]

For other examples of large-scale coding projects see: Archigos, Comparative Constitutions Project, Correlates of War, Freedom House, Global Leadership Project, NELDA, Polity.


Identify a concept that is amenable to systematic coding and has not been adequately, or systematically, measured. Develop a coding system – nominal, ordinal, or interval. And implement it, at least with a small sample. Discuss the experience. How successful was it? What sorts of measurement error did you encounter? Could these errors be overcome? If so, how? Is your measure, when completed, likely to be superior to others that have been, or might be devised? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What could the resulting indicator be used for?

Big Questions

Qualitative/Quantitative (TBA)


Beck, Nathaniel. 2006. “Is Causal-Process Observation an Oxymoron?” Political Analysis 14, 347- 352.

Brady, Henry E., “Data-Set Observations versus Causal Process Observations: The 2000 U.S. Presidential Election,” in Henry Brady and David Collier, eds., Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, second ed. (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2010), pp. 237-242.

Collier, David, Henry E. Brady, Jason Seawright. 2010. “Sources of Leverage in Causal Inference: Toward an Alternative View of Methodology.” In Henry Brady and David Collier, eds., Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, second ed. (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield), pp. 161-199.

Collier, David, Jason Seawright, Gerardo L. Munck. 2004. “The Quest for Standards: King, Keohane, and Verba’s Designing Social Inquiry.” In Henry Brady and David Collier (eds), Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (Lanham, MD: Roman and Littlefield) 21-50.

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture.” In The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books).

Gerring, John. 2012. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Preface, ch 1, Part IV]

Gerring, John. 2017. “Qualitative Methods.” Annual Review of Political Science 20 (May/June).

Hall, Peter. 2003. “Aligning Methodology with Ontology,” in James Mahoney and Dietrich Rueschemeyer, eds., Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Lake, David A. 2011. “Why ‘isms’ are Evil: Theory, Epistemology, and Academic Sects as Impediments to Understanding and Progress.” International Studies Quarterly 55: 465-80.

Mahoney, James, Gary Goertz. 2006. “A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting Quantitative and Qualitative Research.” Political Analysis (Summer) 14:3, 227-249.

Mahoney, James. 2010. “After KKV: The New Methodology of Qualitative Research,” World Politics 62:1 (January) 120-147.

Mr. Perestroika. 2000. “On the Globalization of the APSA and APSR: A Political Science Manifesto.” [The email that sparked the movement.]

Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber. 2002. “In Defense of Diverse Forms of Knowledge.” PS: Political Science and Politics (June) 199-201.

Wedeen, Lisa. 2010. “Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science.” Annual Review of Political Science 13, 255-72.

GOV 365N • Intl Dev And Global Justice

38553 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 0.120




GOV 365N


John Gerring


This course examines the question of global justice.  Key questions are as follows:

1. What is global justice? How could/should this concept be defined and measured? If we take the view that wellbeing (aka human development) is a key element of justice, what indicators of wellbeing should we choose? What does it mean to be lacking in basic resources? What is the lived experience of poverty? What non-material elements of wellbeing deserve to be considered?

2. What patterns of wellbeing can be discerned across countries, within countries, and through time? Does global inequality go hand-in-hand with intra-country inequality? Does income go hand-in-hand with other aspects of human development and with happiness?

3. What explains human development? Is it (a) geography and infrastructure, (b) colonialism and slavery, (c) macroeconomic policy and international political economy, (d) agricultural policy (e) demography, (f) health policy, (g) human capital and education policy, (h) political institutions, (i) culture, or (j) some admixture of the above?


Course Requirements:


Grades will be based on the following components, equally weighted (25% each): (a) class attendance and participation; (b) midterm exam; (c) final exam, and (d) research paper.




Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1992. Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Banerjee, Abhijit; Roland Benabou; Dilip Mookherjee (eds). 2006. Understanding Poverty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Research: Methodology


Applied Social Science Methodology: An Introductory Guide, Forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, 2017. (with Dino Christenson)

This textbook provides a clear, concise, and comprehensive introduction to methodological issues encountered by the various social science disciplines. It emphasizes applications, with detailed examples, so that readers can put these methods to work in their research. Within a unified framework, John Gerring and Dino Christenson integrate a variety of methods – descriptive and causal, observational and experimental, qualitative and quantitative. The text covers a wide range of topics including research design, data-gathering techniques, statistics, theoretical frameworks, and social science writing. It is designed both for those attempting to make sense of social science, as well as those aiming to conduct original research. The text is complemented by practice questions, exercises, examples, key term highlighting, and additional resources, including related readings and websites. An essential resource for undergraduate and postgraduate programs in communications, criminal justice, economics, business, finance, management, education, environmental policy, international development, law, political science, public health, public policy, social work, sociology, and urban planning.

Case Study Research: Principles and Practices, 2d ed., Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Case Study Research: Principles and Practices provides a general understanding of the case study method as well as specific tools for its successful implementation.
These tools are applicable in a variety of fields, including anthropology, business and management, communications, economics, education, medicine, political science, psychology, social work, and sociology. Topics include: a survey of case study approaches; a methodologically tractable definition of “case study”; strategies for case selection, including random sampling and other algorithmic approaches; quantitative and qualitative modes of case study analysis; and problems of internal and external validity. The new edition of this core textbook is designed to be accessible to readers who are new to the subject and is thoroughly revised and updated, incorporating recent research.



Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

A one-volume introduction to social science methodology relevant to the disciplines of anthropology, economics, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. This new edition has been extensively developed with the introduction of new material and a thorough treatment of essential elements such as conceptualization, measurement, causality, and research design. It is written for students, long-time practitioners, and methodologists, and covers both qualitative and quantitative methods. It synthesizes the vast and diverse field of methodology in a way that is clear, concise, and comprehensive. While offering a handy overview of the subject, the book is also an argument about how we should conceptualize methodological problems. Thinking about methodology through this lens provides a new framework for understanding work in the social sciences.
This is a dramatically revised and expanded edition of the 2001 edition. The general framework is the same, but virtually everything else is changed.
On-line resources for readers and instructors using SSM

  • Jack Goldstone, APA Review of Books 49:3 (2004) 357-8.
  • George Thomas, “The Qualitative Foundations of Political Science Methodology,” Perspectives on Politics 3:4 (December 2005) 855-66.

Concepts and Method in Social Science: The Tradition of Giovanni Sartori
Edited by David Collier and John Gerring, Routledge, 2008.

Careful work with concepts is a cornerstone of good social science methodology.Concepts and Method in Social Science carefully demonstrates the crucial role of concepts, providing a timely contribution that draws both on the classic contributions of Giovanni Sartori and the writing of a younger generation of scholars. In this volume, major writings of Sartori are juxtaposed with other work that exemplifies important approaches to concept analysis. The book is split into three key sections:

  • Part I : Sartori on Concepts and Methods – including an examination of the necessary logical steps in moving from conceptualization to measurement and the relationships among meanings, terms and observations.
  • Part II: Extending the Sartori Tradition – eminent scholars analyse five key ideas in concept analysis: revolution, culture, democracy, peasants and institutionalization within the context of the Sartori tradition.
  • Part III: In the Academy and Beyond – both an engaging autobiographical essay written by Giovanni Sartori and reflections from former students provide a unique context in which to situate this varied and rigorous discussion of concept analysis and qualitative methods.

Concepts and Method in Social Science is an accessible text that is ideally suited to advanced undergraduates and postgraduates, providing a distinct and coherent introduction to comparative political analysis.

Social Science Methodology: A Criterial Framework, Cambridge University Press, 2001
A one-volume introduction to social science methodology, relevant to the disciplines of anthropology, economics, history, political science, and sociology. Written for students and practitioners, as well as methodologists, it provides a structure for organizing quantitative and qualitative research. While offering an overview of this vast and diverse subject, the book presents an argument about how we should conceptualize methodological problems. Tasks and criteria, the author argues – not fixed rules or procedures – best describe the search for methodological adequacy. Thinking about methodology through this lens provides a new framework for understanding and conducting research in the social sciences.



Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Methods Applied to the Study of Governance in the Developing World
September 29, 2007, Harvard University


Gerring, John, Daniel Pemstein, Svend-Erik Skaaning. 2018. “An Ordinal, Concept-driven Approach to Measurement: The Lexical Scale.” Sociological Methods and Research (forthcoming).

“Selecting Cases for Intensive Analysis: A Diversity of Goals and Methods”
Sociological Methods and Research 45:3 (2016) 392-423 (with Lee Cojocaru)

“Qualitative Methods”
Annual Review of Political Science 20 (May/June, 2017).

“The Relevance of Relevance”
B. Guy Peters, Jon Pierre, Gerry Stoker (eds), The Relevance of Political Science (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Chapter 2.

“Mere Description”
British Journal of Political Science 42:4 (October 2012)

“Quantitative and Qualitative: A Question of Comparability”
Bertrand Badie, Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Leonardo Morlino (eds), International Encyclopedia of Political Science (Sage, 2011) (with Craig W. Thomas).
“Quantitative and Qualitative: A Question of Comparability”
(extended version)

Symposium: Perfecting Methodology or Methodological Perfectionism?
Qualitative and Multi-Method Research: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Qualitative and Multi-Method Research(Spring 2011) 8-33 (with Jason Seawright; Adam Glynn; Andrew Bennett).

“How Good Is Good Enough? A Multidimensional, Best-Possible Standard for Research Design”
Political Research Quarterly 64:3 (September 2011) 625-36

“Causal Mechanisms: Yes, But…”
Comparative Political Studies 43:11 (November 2010) 1499-1526.
“Causal Mechanisms: Yes, But…”(extended version)

Symposium: Case Studies, Case Selection, and Causal Inference,
Qualitative and Multi-Method Research: Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized Section on Qualitative and Multi-Method Research(Fall 2008) 2-16 (with David Collier, James Fearon, David Freedman, Gary Goertz, and David Laitin).

“Case-Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Quantitative Options” 
Political Research Quarterly 61:2 (June 2008) 294-308 (with Jason Seawright) (published version).
“Case-Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Quantitative Options” 
(with Jason Seawright) (extended version)

“The Mechanismic Worldview: Thinking Inside the Box”
British Journal of Political Science 37 (2007) 1-19.

“An Experimental Template for Case Study Research” 
American Journal of Political Science 51:3 (July 2007), 688-701.

“Is There a (Viable) Crucial-Case Method?”
Comparative Political Studies 40:3 (March 2007) 231-53.

“Single Outcome Studies: A Methodological Primer.”
International Sociology 21:5 (September 2006) 707-734.

“A Normative Turn in Political Science?” 
Polity 38:1 (January 2006) 101-33 (with Joshua Yesnowitz).

“Causation: A Unified Framework for the Social Sciences”
Journal of Theoretical Politics 17:2 (April 2005) 163-98.

“What is a Case Study and What is it Good For?”
American Political Science Review 98:2 (May 2004) 341-54.

“Putting Ordinary Language to Work: A Min-Max Strategy of Concept Formation in the Social Sciences”
Journal of Theoretical Politics 15:2 (April 2003) 201-32 (with Paul A. Barresi).
“Putting Ordinary Language to Work: A Min-Max Strategy of Concept Formation in the Social Sciences”(extended version)

“Interpretations of Interpretism”
Qualitative Methods (Fall 2003) 2-6.

“What Makes a Concept Good?: An Integrated Framework for Understanding Concept Formation in the Social Sciences”
Polity 31:3 (Spring 1999) 357-93.

“Ideology: A Definitional Analysis”
Political Research Quarterly 50:4 (December 1997) 957-94.


“Strategies of Research Design with Confounding: A Graphical Description”
(with Adam N. Glynn)

“An Ordinal, Concept-driven Approach to Measurement: The Lexical Scale”
(with Daniel Pemstein and Svend-Erik Skaaning)

“The Inference in Causal Inference: A Psychology for Social Science Methodology”
(with Jason Seawright and Alejandro Avenburg)

“Length Limits: Is Shorter Better?” In Colin Elman, John Gerring, & James Mahoney (eds), The Production of Knowledge: Enhancing Progress in Social Science
(with Lee Cojocaru)

Research: Comparative Politics


A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance, Cambridge University Press, 2008
(with Strom Thacker)
This book sets forth a relatively novel theory of democratic governance, applicable to all political settings in which multi-party competition obtains. Against the prevailing decentralist theory (deriving from Madison and Montesquieu), we argue that good governance arises when political energies are focused toward the center. Two elements must be reconciled in order for this process of gathering together to occur. Institutions must be inclusive and they must be authoritative. We refer to this combination of attributes as “centripetal.” While the theory has many potential applications, in this book we are concerned primarily with national-level political institutions. Among these, we argue that three are of fundamental importance in securing a centripetal style of democratic governance: unitary (rather than federal) sovereignty, a parliamentary (rather than presidential) executive, and a closed-list PR electoral system (rather than a single-member district or preferential-vote system). We test the impact of these institutions across a wide range of governance outcomes.

  • Stata (use Notes command to access codebook)
  • Text (tab-delimited)
  • Stata commands used to produce column 1 of Tables 6.1-6.11



Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)

Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA)

Global Leadership Project



Knutsen, Carl Henrik, Jan Teorell, Tore Wig, Agnes Cornell, John Gerring, Haakon Gjerløw, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Daniel Ziblatt, Kyle L. Marquardt, Dan Pemstein, Brigitte Seim. 2018. “Introducing the Historical Varieties of Democracy Dataset: Political Institutions in the Long 19th Century.” Journal of Peace Research. Forthcoming.

Gerring, John, Erzen Oncel, Kevin Morrison, Daniel Pemstein. 2019. “Who Rules the World? A Portrait of the Global Leadership Class.” Perspectives on Politics (forthcoming).

Gerring, John, Daniel Pemstein, Svend-Erik Skaaning. 2018. “An Ordinal, Concept-driven Approach to Measurement: The Lexical Scale.” Sociological Methods and Research (on-line first).

“A General Theory of Power Concentration: Demographic Influences on Political Organization.” European Political Science Review (forthcoming). Gerring, John, Matthew Maguire, Jillian Jaeger. 2018. 

Knutsen, Carl Henrik, John Gerring, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, Matthew Maguire, Michael Coppedge, Staffan Lindberg. 2018. “Economic Development and Democracy: An Electoral Connection.” European Journal of Political Research (early view).

“Party Strength and Economic Growth.” World Politics 70:2 (April) 2018. Bizzarro, Fernando, John Gerring, Allen Hicken, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Michael Bernhard, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Michael Coppedge, Staffan I. Lindberg.

Gerring, John, Strom C. Thacker, Yuan Lu, Erzen Oncel. 2017. “When Are Minorities Worse Off? A Systematic Investigation of Size and Status.” Journal of Development Studies 53:12, 2086-2101.

Gerring, John, Michael Hoffman, Dominic Zarecki. 2018. “The Diverse Effects of Diversity on Democracy.” British Journal of Political Science 48:2 (April) 283-314.

“Demography and Democracy: A Global, District-level Analysis of Electoral Contestation” 
American Political Science Review 109:3 (August 2015) 574-91. (with Maxwell Palmer, Jan Teorell, and Dominic Zarecki).


“A Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy”
Comparative Political Studies 48:12 (October 2015) 1491-1525. (with Svend-Erik Skaaning and Henrikas Bartusevičius).

“Does Diversity Impair Human Development? A Multi-Level Test of the Diversity Debit Hypothesis.”
World Development 66 (February 2015), 166-88 (with Strom C. Thacker, Yuan Lu, Wei Huang).

“V-Dem: A New Way to Measure Democracy.”
Journal of Democracy 25:3 (July 2014) 159-169 (with Staffan I. Lindberg, Michael Coppedge, Jan Teorell, et al.).

“Assessing Public Health Performance: A Model-Based Approach.”
Social Science & Medicine 93 (September 2013) 21-28 (with Strom Thacker, Ruben Enikolopov, Julian Arevalo, Matthew Maguire).


“Democracy and Human Development.”
Journal of Politics 74:1 (January 2012) (with Strom Thacker and Rodrigo Alfaro)


“Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: A New Approach” 
Perspectives on Politics 9:1 (June 2011) 247-67 (with Michael Coppedge).

“An Institutional Theory of Direct and Indirect Rule” 
World Politics 63:3 (2011) 377-433 (with Daniel Ziblatt, Johan Van Gorp, and Julian Arevalo)


“Democracy, History, and Economic Performance: A Case-study Approach” 
World Development 39:10 (October, 2011) (with Peter Kingstone, Matthew Lange, and Aseema Sinha)

“Are Parliamentary Systems Better?” 
Comparative Political Studies 42:3 (2009) 327-359 (with Strom Thacker and Carola Moreno)

“Do Neoliberal Policies Kill or Save Lives?”
Business and Politics 10:3 (2008) (with Strom Thacker)

“Global Justice as an Empirical Question”
PS: Political Science & Politics 40:1 (January 2007)

“Do Neoliberal Policies Deter Corruption?”
International Organization 59:1 (Winter 2005) 233-54 (with Strom Thacker)


“Centripetal Democratic Governance: A Theory and Global Inquiry”
American Political Science Review 99:4 (November 2005) 567-81 (with Strom Thacker and Carola Moreno)

  • Stata (use Notes command to access codebook
  • Excel (contains codebook for all versions of the dataset)
  • Text (tab-delimited)

“Democracy and Growth: A Historical Perspective”
World Politics 57:3 (April 2005) 323-64 (with Philip Bond, William Barndt, and Carola Moreno).


“Minor Parties in Plurality Electoral Systems”
Party Politics 11:1 (January 2005) 79-107

“Political Institutions and Corruption: The Role of Unitarism and Parliamentarism”
British Journal of Political Science 34:2 (April 2004) 295-330 (with Strom Thacker)

  • Stata (coming soon)
  • Excel
  • Text (coming soon)




Research: American Political History


Party Ideologies in America: 1828-1996, Cambridge University Press, 2001
Is American politics “ideological,” or relatively consensual? Do the American parties differ from one another and, if so, how? This work offers a synthetic history and analysis of the ideologies of the major American parties from the early nineteenth century to the present. It draws on party platforms and campaign speeches, analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. The author argues that the American parties have always articulated relatively coherent, differentiated, and enduring ideologies, though the content of those ideologies has changed considerably over the past century and a half. In order to understand the party battles of the present it is necessary to understand the content of past party struggles. The parties of today, though still ideological, have relatively little in common with the parties of yesteryear.
View the Appendix.




"APD from a Methodological Point of View"
Studies in American Political Development 17:1 (Spring 2003) 82-102.

“Does Party Ideology Matter?: A Roll-Call Analysis of Key Congressional Votes, 1833-1992”
Journal of Policy History 11:4 (1999) 399-42.

"The Perils of Particularism: Political History after Hartz"
Journal of Policy History 11:3 (1999) 313-22.

"Culture versus Economics: An American Dilemma"
Social Science History 23:2 (Summer 1999) 129-72.

"Continuities of Democratic Ideology in the 1996 Campaign"
Polity 30:1 (Fall 1997) 167-86.

“Party Ideology in America: The National-Republican Chapter (1828‑1924)”
Studies in American Political Development 11:1 (Spring 1997) 44-108.

"A Chapter in the History of American Party Ideology: The Nineteenth-Century Democratic Party, 1828-1892"
Polity 26:4 (Summer 1994) 729-68.

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