This Is Not a Turn: Canadian Political Science and Social Mechanisms

Paquet, Mireille

With Jörg Broschek


Mechanism-based explanations are gaining in popularity in the social sciences. Canadian political science has somewhat embraced these debates. Recent work has explicitly identified with mechanismic explanation and, at the same time, there is a point to be made about the compatibility of CPS’s cannons with a mechanism-based understanding of causation. In this paper, we survey past and recent work aligned with this ontological approach. We demonstrate a heterogeneous engagement with the methodological literature regarding mechanisms and different understandings as well as uses of mechanisms in political analysis. This survey allows us to argue for the potential of mechanism-based explanations for CPS while also forcing us to advocate for a sober and discerning use of this approach.


Paquet, M., Broschek, J. (2017). «This Is Not a Turn: Canadian Political Science and Social Mechanisms», Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, no 1, p. 295-310.

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