Why Small States Offer Important Answers to Large Questions

Wouter Veenendaal, Jack Corbett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Small states are conspicuously absent from mainstream comparative political science. There are a variety of reasons that underpin their marginal position in the established cannon, including their tiny populations, the fact that they are not considered "real" states, their supposedly insignificant role in international politics, and the absence of data. In this article, we argue that the discipline is much poorer for not seriously utilizing small states as case studies for larger questions. To illustrate this, we consider what the case study literature on politics in small states can offer to debates about democratization and decentralization, and we highlight that the inclusion of small states in various ways augments or challenges the existing literature in these fields. On this basis, we argue that far from being marginal or insignificant, the intellectual payoffs to the discipline of studying small states are potentially enormous, mainly because they have been overlooked for so long.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)527-549
    JournalComparative Political Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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