Researching Politics in Africa: Reflections on Comparative Design Using Written Materials in Understanding Identity Politics Within the Context of African Societies
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Comparative politics is a linchpin of understanding systemic politicization of identities. The motivation to study identity politics in the context of Africa was generated by the general view that situates ethnic politics as being messy in mainstream scholarly debates. The comparative approach was applicable in determining conditions that explained the divisive nature of ethnicity in Kenya and stabilizing effects of tribal party politics in Zambia. To meet the study’s objectives, a comparative design using written materials was employed. The research followed a descriptive and interpretative design in comparing the two countries’ political history and social spheres. Generally, principles that guide comparative research design are flexible. Comparative methods in politics as a field of study are often binary as they are used to demystify linear ways of studying societies which are neither homogeneous nor static. The discrepancies and consistencies in the cases studied were helpful in the process of integrating and interrogating literature. The practicalities of using comparative case analysis in the study of politics for African nation-states are based on both the diversity and shared sense of settings.
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