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The Use of Court Records in the Reconstruction of Village Networks: A Comparative Perspective1

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Taking a comparative study of peasant collective action as a starting point, this paper demonstrates how certain methodological techniques can improve the two-case contrast-oriented comparisons. The study, which is built on two comparative strategies (case versus case and case versus theory), is further upheld through case-level internal analyses reinforcing the implied causality across cases. Substantively, it argues that a better understanding of peasant behavior can be gained by embedding actors in networks of interaction within and across villages, presenting this as a fruitful bridge between micro (rational choice) and macro (institutional) analyses. In the process, new sources of historical evidence (court records) are proposed to reconstruct this middle level-horizontal structure of relations in villages indicating the degree of organization of rural communities.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, U.S.A.


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