Favorite papers in sequence analysis

Here, we have too many options! As a relatively recent, marginal technique, promoted by sociologists who like fine-grained descriptions and thinking about time, sequence analysis has produced many papers that we like – not just because they explain the technique rather clearly, but because they tend to care about their sources and categories. So if you want to read just one paper after reading our overview, you should choose among the following depending on your substantive research interests. They are all clear and accessible as regards sequence analysis per se.

  • Mary Blair-Loy’s “Career Patterns of Executive Women in Finance” (situated in the late 20th-century USA) is particularly interesting as it disentangles age effects from generation effects. It is also commendable, especially for a paper published in a mainstream journal in sociology, for its discussion of the interest of a small sample (of life histories, i.e. a small prosopography), its back-and-forth between quantification and interviews, and its ad hoc, well explained categorization scheme (p. 1354-1355). For us, it is a good example of a categorization anchored in specific data and research questions.
  • Fabien Accominotti’s “Creativity from interaction: Artistic movements and the creativity careers of modern painters” (focused on painters active in France in the early 20th century) might annoy art historians, at first glance, as the author revisits the work of economist David Galenson, endorsing his measurement of “creativity” by illustrations reproduced in books. But you should not stop there. Accominotti duly criticizes this “proxy” of creativity and addresses what is really measured (the production of reference books in art history). Even if he takes Galenson’s theses seriously and answers in quantitative terms, all his interpretations are informed by art history.
  • (to be continued)

Note also that the authors of TraMineR maintain a page listing publications that use their package. It is a good way to discover new papers in sequence analysis.


Author: Claire Lemercier

CNRS research professor of history in Paris / Directrice de recherche au CNRS en histoire, au Centre de sociologie des organisations

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