The method of comparative analysis, Comparison as a method of...

Comparative Analysis Method

Comparison as a way of knowing

The essence of this method is relatively simple: a comparison of individual social phenomena and processes in order to detect their similarities and differences. On the basis of the revealed similarity, a presumptive or sufficiently substantiated conclusion is made, for example, about their social homogeneity, more or less similar content, the general orientation of their development, etc. In this case, known data on one of the compared phenomena or processes can be used to study others. Identified in the course of the comparative analysis, differences in the phenomena and processes studied indicate their specificity and, possibly, the uniqueness of some of them.

It follows from the foregoing that the method of comparative analysis is largely based on such a general scientific method as an analogy. At the same time, in the comparative analysis of social phenomena, such general scientific methods of thinking and cognition as analysis and synthesis, modeling, induction, deduction, etc.

These methods also correspond to the category system, ie. the most common concepts in which the mental procedures of comparative analysis are performed: "compare", "similarity", "difference", "comparison object", "subject performing comparative analysis" (with his views, ideological attitudes and value orientations), the "angle of vision" compared phenomena, integer & quot ;, part & quot ;, segmentation (division of the whole into separate segments for the purpose of their investigation), "social homogeneity" and social heterogeneity researched phenomena and processes, comparison method and others

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The main significance of the comparative analysis is the receipt of new information not only about the properties of the phenomena and processes being compared, but also about their direct and indirect interrelationships and, possibly, about the general trends in their functioning and development. As the French researchers M. Dogan and D. Pelassi rightly point out, "although in the beginning the comparison may be caused by the search for information, it is also the key to knowledge. This is what makes it one of the most fruitful areas of thinking. "

Comparative analysis contributes to a critical review of the researcher's views on certain social phenomena and processes that have developed in the study of a particular country and which he is ready to consider universal, that is, acceptable to many other countries. Nevertheless, a comparative analysis will reveal specific features that are characteristic of different countries that were not previously known to the researcher. There will be an obvious baselessness of claims to the universality of his former views, which are characterized by the concept of "ethnocentrism" (close to the data of the study of one country, first of all its own).

So, a comparative analysis of various phenomena and processes of social life contributes to a deeper understanding of their common properties and differences, their development trends, as well as a more substantiated critical assessment of the experience of their country and other countries. This, in turn, raises the problem of mastering the experience of these countries, expanding cooperation with them in the economic, political, scientific and other areas of public life.

Comparative Analysis Mechanism

Some components of the mechanism of comparative analysis of social phenomena and processes have already been mentioned: general scientific methods of cognition (analogy, analysis, synthesis, etc.) and logical apparatus (primarily system categories used in logical operations of comparative analysis, inherent judgments and conclusions).

Consider now a procedure for comparative analysis, such as segmentation - dividing the whole into segments and selecting those that are subject to comparative analysis.

Thus, it is possible to identify such links in the economic process in a particular society as the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of created material goods, and then explore each of them. However, data on them can be compared with data on similar links in the economic process in other countries, and their comprehensive comparative analysis. From the system of political relations existing in different countries it is possible to single out, for example, the relations of the legislative power, and also to conduct their comparative analysis. In both cases, one-type phenomena are singled out, which makes it possible to carry out their comparative analysis more deeply.

The objects of comparative analysis can be themselves social processes, as well as their components, including subjects of these social processes: classes, nations, other social groups, different elites , individuals, as well as diverse social institutions.

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Segmentation as a method of comparative analysis involves studying not only the structural properties of the phenomenon under study, but also the nature of its functioning within the whole (for example, a comparative analysis of the activities of various elites or political parties in different societies). It should be remembered that it is only when studying the functioning of any social phenomenon within the whole, including the corresponding economic or political system or the whole society, that reliable knowledge of its real existence and role in society can be obtained, for it functions and always manifests itself in the context of this or that socium.

Important stages of the comparative analysis are the processing of the data obtained, their systematization and scientific interpretation, which includes both simultaneous analysis and synthesis, the search for empirical evidence and the formulation of concepts, and other logical operations. In any case, it is necessary to show the validity of the phenomena and similarities found in the comparative analysis, their similarities and differences, to reveal their social nature, the immediate causes of their appearance, and also their social significance. In this case, on the basis of a comparative analysis, useful practical conclusions can be formulated.

Comparative analysis can play a significant role in forecasting social processes. The most simple way of forecasting is direct comparison of data on the development of the studied processes in different countries.

It is claimed, for example, that the model of American democracy in the future will become a model of democracy in developed European countries, etc.

Another way to predict based on comparative analysis is to extrapolate (disseminate) the data to the future "based on a number of hypotheses."

It is asserted (and not without reason) that the forecast built on the basis of comparative analysis has good reliability, "especially in cases of short-term forecasts", and "remains one of the most promising approaches in the future sociology".


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