PS: Political Science & Politics


Process Tracing and Elite Interviewing: A Case for Non-probability Sampling

Oisín  Tansey  a1
a1 University of Reading

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This article explores the relationship between the method of process tracing and the data collection technique of elite interviewing. The process tracing method has become an increasingly used and cited tool in qualitative research, a trend that has recently accelerated with the publication of Alexander George and Andrew Bennett's text (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. That book outlines and explores the process tracing method in detail, highlighting its advantages for exploring causal processes and analyzing complex decision-making. Yet while the book presents a rigorous and compelling account of the process tracing method and its critical importance to case study research, the value of the method itself remains contested in some quarters, and there are aspects of George and Bennett's treatment of it that require further exploration.