Evaluating Alternatives to Ethnofederalism: The Logic of Same-System Comparative Analysis

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My research focuses on the effectiveness of granting territorial autonomy to compact ethnic groups (ethnofederalism) as a means of easing ethnic tensions in divided societies. The general consensus among scholars is that ethnic autonomy is an unwise institutional choice because it increases the likelihood that dissatisfied ethnic groups will separate from a parent state. However, few critics seem willing to offer and defend convincing alternatives to ethnofederalism that are both politically feasible to implement and that can plausibly succeed in cases where ethnofederalism fails. In a recent journal article, I evaluated alternatives to ethnofederalism using the logic of a “same-system” comparative approach, applied to a medium-N universe of cases. This case study examines the difficulties involved in the systematic comparison of political institutions when the number of relevant cases is too small for statistical analysis but too large for detailed case studies. I then outline the logic of a same-system design, which compares the same state at two different points in time and under different institutions, and highlight the benefits and limitations of this approach.



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