Concept formation is inescapable because social scientists cannot study political reality without making tacit assumptions about the basic relevant concepts. An anti-naturalist approach offers a distinctive form of concept formation, one that avoids naturalist distortions like essentialism, reification, and instrumentalism. In order to make this case, this chapter draws on some of the most influential political science methodology literature as well as top research programs of empirical political science (including critical discussions of voter behavior, the study of so-called “contentious politics,” democratic peace, and selectorate theory, to name a few). The chapter concludes by elaborating on the way that an interpretive social science forges concepts that are sensitive to meanings and human agency.
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