Call for SPA symposium papers: ‘The comparative research methodology of institutional continuity and change’

2015 Social Policy Association Annual Conference

Belfast Metropolitan College, Titanic Quarter, Belfast

6th-8th July 2015

Conference Theme: ‘Social Policy in the Spotlight: Change, Continuity and Challenge’.

Symposium: The comparative research methodology of institutional continuity and change

Call for papers: The growing popularity of historical institutionalism within the social policy literature has not witnessed yet a parallel attention to the methodological explorations of institutional change and continuity. Realising thus historical institutionalism as an approach to studying social policy, this symposium aims to facilitate a state-of-the-art discussion on the available research methodologies that explore the historical comparative institutional development of welfare institutions. We welcome empirical papers that ideally incorporate medium and small-N of international cases; utilise a range of quantitative and qualitative methods; and potentially bridge historical institutionalist with ideational frameworks. In doing so, the symposium first aims to address the challenges that comparative historical analysis face when shifting from aggregate to dis-aggregate levels of analysis that allow medium-N comparative research (e.g. regression analysis, fuzzy-sets) to be accompanied by within-case methods such as process tracing, causal narratives and pattern matching. Additionally the symposium aims to address how the application of within-case methods that explore empirically time and sequence can identify causal similarities and differences, test theoretical hypotheses, formulate new theoretical propositions and even explain particular outcomes.

This symposium is hosted by the SPA’s International and Comparative Special Interest Group and directly builds on discussions during the symposium ‘Innovative Comparative Methods’ for the 2014 Social Policy Association Conference, University of Sheffield. We specifically encourage contributions from postgraduate and early career researchers, but all inquires are welcome.

Please send a title and abstract of 350 words max. to Antonios Roumpakis ( or Stefan Kühner ( to express your interest in participating.

The deadline for expressions of interest is February 20th. If accepted, paper abstracts should be uploaded to the conference website no later than February 27th. The deadline for postgraduate bursary applications is March 27th 2015.