¹ 3 - 2003
Sartori G.

Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics

The article now presented to the Polis’ readers, of which the English-language version was published more than thirty years ago (see: The American Political Science Review, 1970, vol. 64, ¹ 4), deals with problems of concept formation in comparative political science. According to the author’s conclusion, a major drawback of the comparative expansion of the discipline is that it has been conducive to indefiniteness, to undelimited and largely undefined conceptualizations: our gains in extensional coverage tend to be matched by losses in connotative precision. The issue discussed in the now published first part of the article is that of correlation and heuristic faculties of quantitative and qualitative analyses. The author argues that quantification enters the scene after, and only after, having formed the concept, and the “stuff” of quantification — the things underpinned by numbers — cannot be provided by quantification itself. Before we proceed to answering the question “how much”, it is to be determined, how much in what, in what conceptual container. In view of the above stated, the author concludes that the logic of quantitative analysis (either — or) cannot be replaced by the logic of more — and less. Actually the two logics are complementary, and each has a legitimate field of application.