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For the third installment in our special series on interpretive political and social scientific research, Frederic C. Schaffer joins us to discuss his Elucidating...

For the third installment in our special series on interpretive political and social scientific research, Frederic C. Schaffer joins us to discuss his Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide (Routledge, 2015). In it, Fred explains why social scientists doing interpretive work need to be especially attentive to concepts and conceptualization. Contrasting positivist reconstruction of concepts with interpretivist elucidation of them, he proposes and spells out three elucidating strategies: grounding, locating and exposing.

Elucidating Social Science Concepts is both a hands-on text for social scientific conceptualization and an agenda-setting publication that emerges out of Fred’s longstanding commitment to interpretivist methodologies and methods. The second of the Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods featured on New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science, this is a book that is clear in its goals, patient in its explanations and economical in its prose, accessible to graduate students but also full of instructive reminders and cautions for seasoned researchers.

Listeners to this episode might also be interested in the symposium on Elucidating Social Science Concepts published in Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, available for free download and another, in European Political Science, here.

And to download or stream episodes in this series, please subscribe to our host channel: New Books in Political Science.


Nick Cheesman is a fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University, and a committee member of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group. He co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asian Studies channel.