GIGA Training Programm Winter Term 2023 – Course: Working with Concepts

Date and time: 12 – 13 Dec, 1 pm – 6 pm
Place: GIGA, online
Target group: Doctoral Researchers
Language: English

Description: Concepts are foundational to the social-science enterprise. This ten-hour workshop introduces participants to two distinct ways to think about and work with them. One is the positivist approach to what is called concept “formation” or “reconstruction” – the formulation of a technical, neutral vocabulary for measuring, comparing, and generalizing. This approach focuses attention on building concepts with a high degree of external differentiation, internal coherence, explanatory utility, and content validity. The other is an interpretivist approach that focuses on what Dr. Schaffer calls “elucidation.” Elucidation includes both an investigation into the language of daily life and a reflexive examination of social-science technical language. It is intended to illuminate both the world views of the people that social scientists wish to understand and the ways in which social scientists’ embeddedness in particular languages, historical eras, and power structures shapes the concepts with which they do their work.

About the lecturer: Dr. Frederic Schaffer is a Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is also a board member and past chair of the Committee on Concepts and Methods of the International Political Science Association, founding member of the Methods Excellence Network. His subfield of specialization is comparative politics, and his methodological areas of expertise are interviewing, working with concepts, and interpretivism.

*Participants need to register online by filling in the registration form that is available on our website.
Registration deadline: Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Confirmations of successful registration will only be sent after the deadline has passed.

For questions, please contact Alejandra Calderon at

GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies
Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
20354 Hamburg