Chapter 2: Case-Driven Theory-Building in Comparative Democratization: The Heuristics of Venezuela’s “Democratic Purgatory”

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Contribution to Book

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Doing Qualitative Research in Politics: Integrating Theory Building and Policy Relevance






This chapter outlines the utility for employing case study methodologies to provide sufficient external validity upon which to craft policy relevant to maintaining healthy democratic politics. The broader theoretical context is an investigation into the conditions that might structurally condition democracies to fail via democratic means. Venezuela’s democratic decline serves as the basis for the heuristic case study, wherein the objective is to identify the failures of the Venezuelan case in a larger framework that addresses the complexity of institutional design in democratic political systems states broadly. Cases are selected based upon the objective of the researcher, and similarly, the case study methodology chosen rests firmly on their research goals. Lastly, the chapter outlines the research design necessary for satisfying broader inquiry within the more modest approach to how heuristic case studies can be used to inform both theory and policy.