Over the past 50 years, scholars across the social sciences have employed critical juncture analysis to understand how social orders are created, become entrenched, and change. In this book, leading scholars from several disciplines offer the first coordinated effort to define this field of research, assess its theoretical and methodological foundations, and use a critical assessment of current practices as a basis for guiding its future. Contributors include stars in this field who have written some of the classic works on critical junctures, as well as the rising stars of the next generation who will continue to shape historical comparative analysis for years to come. Critical Junctures and Historical Legacies will be an indispensable resource for social science research methods scholars and students.
David Collier is Chancellor's Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His scholarly contributions were recognized in 2014, when he received the Johann Skytte Prize, the preeminent international award in the discipline of political science. At Berkeley, he served as Department Chair and Chair of the Center for Latin American Studies. His research focuses on democracy and authoritarianism, Latin American politics, comparative-historical analysis, and methodology. Collier’s books include Shaping the Political Arena: Critical Junctures, the Labor Movement, and the Regime Dynamics in Latin America (with Ruth Berins Collier; Princeton University Press, 1991, reissued in 2002), which won the Best Book Prize of the APSA Comparative Politics Section and is a seminal work in the field of critical junctures and comparative historical analysis. His co-authored and co-edited methodological work includes Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, 2nd expanded edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010); Statistical Models and Causal Inference: A Dialogue with the Social Sciences (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Concepts and Method in Social Science (Routledge, 2009), and The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology (Oxford University Press, 2008). Within the American Political Science Association, he has served as President of the Organized Section for Comparative Politics, Vice President of the Association, and founding President of the Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research. Collier is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His more recent awards, along with the Skytte Prize, include the 2014 Frank J. Goodnow Award for Distinguished Service to Political Science and the American Political Science Association.
Gerardo L. Munck is Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California (USC). His books include Authoritarianism and Democratization. Soldiers and Workers in Argentina, 1976-83 (Penn State University Press, 1998); Regimes and Democracy in Latin America (Oxford University Press, 2007); Passion, Craft, and Method in Comparative Politics (with Richard Snyder; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); Measuring Democracy: A Bridge Between Scholarship and Politics (Johns Hopkins University, 2009); A Middle-quality Institutional Trap: Democracy and State Capacity in Latin America (with Sebastián Mazzuca; Cambridge University Press, 2020); and Contemporary Latin American Politics: The Quest for Democracy and Citizenship Rights (with Juan Pablo Luna; Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2022). He is currently completing a book manuscript on the evolution of knowledge about the social world, entitled How Advances in the Social Sciences Have Been Made: The Study of Democracy and Democratization Since 1789. His articles have been published in the Annual Review of Political Science, World Politics, Comparative Politics, and Comparative Political Studies. The awards he has received include the 2003 Award for Conceptual Innovation in Democratic Studies, of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) Committee on Concepts and Methods (C&M) and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Mexico; and the Frank Cass Prize for Best Overall Article in Democratization in 2016.
List of Figures and Tables
David Collier and Gerardo L. Munck
I. Basics: Core Concepts and Big Substantive Questions
1 Critical Juncture Framework and the Five-Step Template
2 Critical Junctures and Developmental Paths: Colonialism and Long-Term Economic Prosperity
James A. Robinson
3 Postwar Settlements and International Order: A Critical Juncture Perspective
G. John Ikenberry
4 Mobilization, Protest, and Conflicts of the 1960s: What Is the Legacy, and How Did It Unfold?
II. Framework and Methods: Historical Causation and Causal Inference
Gerardo L. Munck
Rachel Beatty Riedl and Kenneth M. Roberts
8 Quantitative Methods and Critical Junctures: The Strengths and Limits of Quantitative History
III. Substantive Applications I: States and Political Regimes
9 Nineteenth-Century State Formation and Long-Term Economic Performance in Latin America
Sebastián L. Mazzuca
13 Leninist Extinction? Critical Junctures, Legacies, and the Study of Post-Communism
Danielle N. Lussier and Jody LaPorte
IV. Substantive Applications II: Neoliberalism and Political Parties
Kenneth M. Roberts
Timothy R. Scully
Taylor C. Boas
Robert R. Kaufman
Appendix I Conceptions of a Critical Juncture and Cognate Terms
Appendix II Glossary of Terms Used in Critical Juncture Research
Appendix III Bibliography of Substantive Research on Critical Junctures
Appendix IV Examples of Critical Juncture Research
About the Contributors
The notion of a critical juncture has become a key idea in social science to capture the interaction of structure and agency in ways that open up new intellectual horizons and free us from outdated frameworks. This volume brings together the leading scholars on the topic and will become the standard reference work.
This book consists of wide-ranging essays on “critical junctures,” rapid, discontinuous transformations of societies which leave a historical legacy partially constraining subsequent actions. Most essays are empirical case studies, but there are also theoretical contributions. Several focus on colonialism’s legacies. The essays are intelligent and well-balanced, ably discussing both the utility and the limitations of the model. I recommend it as an important contribution to macro-sociology.
The essays in this volume do more than explore definitively the implications (and ambiguities) of the concept of “critical junctures.” They highlight a much neglected generic element in scientific political analysis, namely, the crucial importance of temporality—when something happens and, especially, when it happens relative to something else can be much more significant than either the immediate magnitude or direction of what happens.
At last, we have the definitive work on critical junctures. Ranging widely across time, continents and methodological issues, this stellar volume considers and advances the many debates about how political systems change, setting new research agendas for the field. With a wide ambit and a distinguished set of contributors, this book will be indispensable reading for all scholars interested in how politics evolves over time.
In merging the frameworks of critical junctures with that of historical legacy, this volume provides substantive insights into how we have come to be where we are. A heuristic which allows the scholar to combine structural deterministic accounts with the agency of chance and choice. It represents a much needed alternative to current approaches.
This shrewdly designed and wonderfully executed collection will invigorate the work of historically-oriented social scientists. The concept of critical junctures has a rich tradition, but the editors and their stellar team of authors bring much-needed clarity to the term. Equally important, they demonstrate how it can be effectively deployed to illuminate matters of the greatest significance.
Critical junctures implicitly or explicitly inform much social science research. Collier, Munck, and a top-notch roster of authors, provide the definitive treatment of this vital conceptual, methodological, and substantive tool. Collectively, the volume's contributors convincingly assess what has endured, which refinements and critiques are most compelling, and new directions for the development and application of the critical junctures approach. The book is a must-read for social scientists from diverse disciplines.
Social scientists have a growing interest in historical explanation and in the dramatic events that shape subsequent history, but that research tradition has often suffered from theoretical imprecision and insufficient methodological self-consciousness. Collier and Munck’s volume marks a sharp break, giving historical researchers important new tools to sharpen their arguments. Other equally distinguished scholars have added chapters laying out the full range of methods and controversies in the study of critical junctures. This is a must-have book.
Kudos to Collier and Munck. They have assembled a wonderful group of scholars and produced the definitive volume on critical junctures and their historical legacies. The chapters bring terrific insight to current conceptual, methodological, and substantive debates (especially about structure and agency, as well as timing and sequence); they specify systematic procedures for identifying critical junctures and their consequences; and they address substantive questions to illustrate the empirical and theoretical power of this approach. This book will become an indispensable reference for social science theorizing about historical ruptures that generate enduring political change.