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Visiting Scholars Seminar: New Research on Europe

How Asymmetric Is the Social World?


January 31, 2018
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall Directions
January 31, 2018
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall Directions

Social scientists often treat causal processes as inherently symmetric: If an increase in X leads to an increase in Y, a decline in X will lead to a corresponding decline in Y. We challenge this conventional approach and argue that many social processes are inherently asymmetric. While many researchers are in principle aware of this, it is often not reflected in research practice. This presentation calls on social scientists to pay more attention to the possibility of asymmetric processes in their research. It will offer a typology of asymmetric processes, demonstrate the empirical relevance of asymmetry by replicating empirical studies from political science, suggest strategies to deal with asymmetry, and discuss the relevance of asymmetry for policy-making.

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