The enduring influence of historical-structural approaches

Jennifer Cyr, James Mahoney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


The historical-structural approach proposed by Cardoso and Faletto is distinguished by three de ning features. First, the approach is designed to explain speci c outcomes in particular cases. Rather than examine the average e ects of variables within large populations of cases, historical-structuralism is fundamentally “case-oriented” and geared toward identifying the causes of outcomes in speci c cases. Second, historical-structural work is centrally concerned with the temporal dimensions of political explanation. It is “historical” in part because it pays attention to the duration, pace, and timing of events when developing explanations. Such a temporal orientation contrasts with other approaches in political science that rely mainly or exclusively on cross-sectional data or “snapshots” in time to derive inferences. Finally, historical-structural work is macro-oriented and focuses centrally on patterned relationships among aggregate groups and societies. The “structural” dimension of the approach is embodied in its focus on the relations among groups within societies and the interrelationships among societies themselves. This kind of macro orientation di ers markedly from other approaches in political science that put rationally behaving individuals at the center of the analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Latin American Politics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781135280307
ISBN (Print)9780415875226
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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