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Reversals of fortune: path dependency, problem solving, and temporal cases

  • Author(s): Haydu, Jeffrey
  • et al.
Abstract

Historical reversals highlight a basic methodological problem: is it possible to treat two successive periods both as independent cases to compare for causal analysis and as parts of a single historical sequence? I argue that one strategy for doing so, using models of path dependency, imposes serious limits on explanation. An alternative model which treats successive periods as contrasting solutions for recurrent problems offers two advantages. First, it more effectively combines analytical comparisons of different periods with narratives of causal sequences spanning two or more periods. Second, it better integrates scholarly accounts of historical reversals with actors’ own narratives of the past.

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