Gitte Sommer Harrits, "Understanding and Explaining Political Action: A Mixed-Method Strategy", February 2010

The popularity of mixed methods is exploding within social science, as can be seen from the growing body of literature and journal articles discussing everything from epistemological foundations to practicalities of mixing different data sources. In this paper, I argue that different mixed method strategies are framed in terms of different methodological or epistemological problems, and further that within political science, especially the problem of causal inference is being addressed in mixed method strategies such as the nested analysis. This, however, is a rather narrow understanding of mixed methods, and it is not well suited for analysing social and political practices at the level of the individual. Therefore, the paper calls attention to the problem of action and of Erklären and Verstehen, and presents a mixed method research strategy addressing this problem. Thus, the paper aims at furthering the use, discussions and pluralism of mixed methods within political science.