Integrating Evidence for Social Mechanisms: Lessons from Growth Diagnostics

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Pinni B building, lecture hall B1097, address: Kanslerinrinne 1

Recent methodological debates on the concept of social mechanism, often associated with the methodological movement of analytical sociology, have concentrated on the appropriate form of sociological explanation and theorising. I discuss the value of mechanism-based thinking in the evaluation of the relevance, reliability, and strength of evidence. My specific focus is on conceptualising the integration of multiple and diverse kinds of evidence. As an inspiration and illustration, I briefly present a recent and popular methodological school in development economics: growth diagnostics. Growth diagnostics is an analytic framework for identifying the most important constraints on economic growth for specific countries, aiming at directing “the diagnostician” to look for the tell-tale signals that the economy would give, if the main obstacle for growth were A, rather than B. The overall aim is to arrive at the most binding constraint on growth, and consequently the most effective development policy, given limited time and data resources. I discuss what lessons could be derived from this methodology for broader social scientific inquiry.

The Speakers Series of the University of Tampere is a series of Studia Generalia Lectures in the Study of Society organised weekly by the University of Tampere's Institute for Advanced Social Research (IASR) in cooperation with the New Social Research Programme (NSR). The lectures are given by the Research Fellows as well as the distinguished guests of the IASR and the NSR. For the programme, please check the IASR website Most doctoral students can also earn 2 ECTS for attending a minimum of six IASR Lectures, altogether 6 ECTS at the maximum. These 2 ECTS for attending 6 lectures can be earned during two successive terms.

Additional information

Research Secretary Marjukka Virkajärvi,, 050 318 6697