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Phase 1

Review of mechanisms

The first phase of the project concerns collecting the mechanisms and CMO configurations used in published realist evaluations. What a mechanism exactly is, is a contentious issue in realist methodology. Many papers and book chapters have been written on the issue, yet defining 'mechanisms' seems to be like defining 'love': the more words you use the farther away you get from the actual meaning. We therefore complement the more theoretical route with an empirical route in order to understand what a generative mechanism is.


Whereas the initial idea was to make a selection of mechanisms and CMO configurations that were deemed of good quality by a panel of experts, it soon became clear that this was not feasible (see reports below). I therefore decided to change the course a little bit and move to an annotated CMOC database. This database entails the different CMOCs described in the literature and comments from experts on the CMOC. 

Parallel I have created a database including mechanisms derived from substantive theories and theoretical and conceptual papers and books. Books and papers from analytical sociology are some of the sources from which the mechanisms are being derived, but also theories from scientific disciplines like among others economics, sociology, (social) psychology, politcal science.

This phase's main objectives are:


1. To create a database of mechanisms and their related CMO-configurations that have been used in published realist evaluations.

2. To create a database of mechanisms found in scientific theories and in theoretical and conceptual papers and books.

The continuously updated database of empirical CMOCs can be found here: Annotated CMOC database

The database comprising theoretical mechanisms can be found here: Theoretical mechanism database

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