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To Explain Political Processes

Invariant Modeling, Political Contention, Social Mechanisms

The article critiques the method of invariant modeling of macro social processes. He claims that this practice leads researchers to focus on "improving the model" as opposed to understanding that the regularities between macrosociological processes do not operate in the form of recurrent structures and processes. Thus, the construction of invariant models of political revolution is a waste of time and the poor fit accounts for the slow accumulation of knowledge.

As an alternative to invariant modeling Tilly recommends the mechanism approach which consists of the following steps: (1) construct valid ontologies, (2) clearly specify the variation within the field, (3) break complex sequences into smaller events, and (4) form contingent predictions (i.e. "insofar as…") instead of attempting to form invariant general laws.