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It Depends

The article introduces the main topics covered in Tilly’s edited volume (with R. Goodin), The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis. The primary objective of the volume is to demonstrate that acquiring systematic political knowledge requires analysts to get context “right”. The authors distinguish between three classes of contextual effects that impact the study of political processes: (1) the level of an analysts’ understanding of the political processes they are attempting to study, (2) the nature of evidence available for the empirical examination of specific political processes, and (3) the nature and context of the political processes themselves. Additionally, the authors review alternative approaches to political analysis, discuss the necessity of explanatory stories in political analysis, and detail the strategies used by current political science researchers to either control or correct for context.