“Cross-National Research as an Analytic Strategy” is an essay by Melvin L. Kohn that was published in American Sociological Review in 1987. The author of this essay is a well-known American expert in sociology and former president of the American Sociological Association, who serves as a professor at Johns Hopkins University currently. At present, Kohn is focused on researching social culture and personality. In the article under discussion, Kohn explores the value and meaning of cross-national research, as well as the dilemmas that accompany it. In his work, Kohn argues that cross-national research is detrimental to the validity and reliability of the interpretations of research findings revealed by studies focusing on a single nation. According to the author, cross-national research helps determine the generality of such findings in the global context.
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The main point expressed by Kohn in his essay revolves around his vision of cross-national research as an excellent method for the generation, testing, and formulation of sociological hypotheses and theories. The author emphasizes that cross-national research as an analytic strategy and a driver of theory development has been used for a long time. However, the author points out that, for a while, this strategy has been forgotten and underutilized due to the complexity of the processes and tasks involved. Kohn also mentions that in contemporary times, cross-national research is easier to accomplish than it ever used to be throughout the last century.
Moreover, when it comes to the resources required to enable an activity as global and complex as cross-national research, Kohn specifies that such undertaking can be costly and complicated. To be more precise, in addition to a large amount of funding, cross-national research projects also require expanded teams of professionals and may take years to complete. The author also states that, in many cases, findings of cross-national research studies end up raising more questions than they answer throughout the project. However, the author mentions that this is not as much a drawback as it is a pointer driving, guiding, and directing the future course and focus of cross-national research.
Finally, discussing the complexity of carrying out cross-national research, Kohn focuses on its multifaceted nature that complicates the interpretation of results. In this regard, the author points out that a variety of cultures can be found across the globe. As a result, sociological issues that are relevant and topical for one nation can be nonexistent for another. Moreover, when the prevalence of a certain issue is uneven throughout various nations, it is difficult to estimate how many nations need to be included as participants for the findings to be transferrable and reliable.
From the reading, it can be seen that cross-national research is an effective means for sociological theory development. In the contemporary globalizing world that the societal homogeneity clashes with fragmentation and division into groups, such research could be particularly applicable as the global nations are growing closer together in many aspects. However, it is still unclear whether or not this kind of research should focus on countries from significantly differing nations or be carried out regionally to assess issues in relatively similar cultures. The importance of cross-national research findings could be incredibly high, and their potential uses – numerous. Also, thorough preparation is required for every such project as it requires much planning and precision.
Kohn, M. L. (1987). Cross-National Research as an Analytic Strategy: American Sociological Association, 1987 Presidential Address. American Sociological Review, 52(6), 713. Web.