Data Scarcity and Historical Institutionalisms
Data scarcity concerns all historical inquiries but is particularly significant in the long-term study of institutional transformations. While ancient historians have already systematized much data relating to historical institutions, longitudinal data scarcity has frustrated the application of interpretive models and analytical tools utilized by social scientists in the study of institutional diffusion. However, through innovating adaptive means of deploying and interpreting our scarce historical data, there exists promise for enriching both institutionalist theories and historical accounts through the study of the millennium-long process of institutional convergence and divergence in the ancient Mediterranean. By facilitating the collaboration of historians and archaeologists with researchers from economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, and statistics, this workshop aims to produce an interdisciplinary discussion of not only research methodologies for studying institutional change but also the context, nature, and intensity of the diffusion processes leading to shared social, political, and economic institutional formations. The workshop will provide a formal venue for regular interdisciplinary conversations on historical perspectives, research methods, and theoretical contributions to the study of institutional change, particularly in light of scarce and problematic historical data to develop a better understanding of the diffusion processes leading to shared organizational and institutional formations in the ancient Mediterranean. The strength of the workshop derives from the overlapping research interests of faculty and graduate students based not only in Classics and the Stanford Archaeology Center but also in departments including Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Anthropology. By opening an accessible forum to such shared institutional research agendas, the workshop will contribute to the development of new questions and a refinement of analytical tools and models.