To foreshadow my argument, I would like to suggest that Clarno’s book offers us an exemplary study of how comparative and global analysis can be articulated to pursue a unique path to concept formation—which George Steinmetz and Phil Gorski have discussed under the heading of a “real type,” which they contrast with Max Weber’s well-known “ideal type” .
A conventional comparative analysis might stop here and declare this as the main puzzle for investigation. The goal would be to find out what accounts for these dissimilar political trajectories, and perhaps through applying the well-trodden path of Mill’s method of difference, to identify the necessary and sufficient causal factors that underlie successful political decolonization.
But that is not Clarno’s actual interest. Looking beyond the political side of the transitions in South Africa and Palestine/Israel, his puzzle is how despite these political differences, there are striking similarities in the socio-economic transformations in the same period: grow-ing inequality, racialized poverty, and advanced security systems for policing the racialized poor.
It does not take long until the book tells us the main suspect for these striking similarities: over the past two decades both contexts went through radical neoliberal restructuring. It also tells us that the adoption of neoliberal policies by the Palestinian Authority, on the one hand, and by the newly formed South African democratic state, on the other, were due both to power imbalances during political negotiations—including vis-à-vis international financial institutions and what Clarno calls the “global capitalist elite”—and by their inherent ideological appeal: market based economic policies with their quasi “color-blind” emphasis on individual achievement seemed to offer a meritocratic approach to overcome decades of racialized capitalism. The rest of the book then goes on to detail through an in-depth comparative analysis how exactly the opposite happened. Clarno gradually develops the concept of “Neo-liberal Apartheid” to argue that in both South Africa and Palestine/Israel a new form of socio-economic racial domination has emerged and to carve out the essential characteristics of this distinctive form of racial domination.
Now, let me return to my initial point about real types, which we can best understand if we contrast it with Weber’s definition of an ideal type. I quote:
“An ideal type is formed by the one-side accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct ... In its conceptual purity, this mental construct ... cannot be found empirically anywhere in reality” .
By contrast, a real type does not hinge on the abstract idealization of empirical phenomena in the above sense. Rather, it seeks to capture social structures in accordance with their actually existing ontological characteristics. Instead of the “one-sided accentuation” what is at stake is a mode of “conceptual abstraction” that seeks to “understand why a particular social structure or a particular class of social structures are the kinds of structures that they are and have the sorts of causal powers that they do” . In other words, the formation of a real type is, above all, about “identifying a set of elements and their interrelations without which those social structures would be something else and/or would not have particular kinds of causal powers” .
To better grasp how the idea of a real type is distinct from Weber’s ideal type, we need to recognize how it is grounded in a critical realist ontology. The latter differentiates between three ontological levels: the actual, the empirical, and the “deep” real (in a metaphorical sense) . The actual refers to observable events. The distinction of an empirical level underlines that any event can be experienced in rather different ways. The third level, the deep real, in turn, stresses that events do not simply happen, but are governed by various generative mechanisms or causal powers. In view of such a threefold stratification of reality, ideal type abstraction can be located at the level of the empirical, as the quote by Weber above conveys . Real type formation, in comparison, seeks to break through to the third, the “deep” dimension of reality--to delineate distinct kinds of social structures with distinct causal properties .
Having briefly sketched how Steinmetz and Gorski define a real type, let us look at how Clarno’s articulation of comparative analysis and a global outlook has served him in his own formation of a real type like concept.
On the one hand, the global perspective contributes to his comparative analysis, first of all, by helping to identify the common factors that stood at the beginning of the striking similarities in the systems of socio-economic racial domination that emerged, namely the adoption of neoliberal policies as they were propagated by international financial institutions and the “global capitalist elite” around that time. The message is clear: we cannot understand the developments in both contexts if we approach them solely in endogenous nation-state terms and look only e.g. at local elites and their negotiations. So far so good.
Yet, on the other hand: what is the job that the insertion of a comparative framework into a global perspective performs in his book and how does it serve his real type formation? On the surface, the book shows us how global dynamics--like the spread of a global policy paradigm--never play out homogeneously in local contexts. Rather, they become articulated with local histories, power structures, and cultures, entailing what he refers to at some point as “hybrid neoliberal
configurations.” For example, in both South Africa and Palestine neoliberalization went along with the growth of security systems: in one context this growth is driven by a private industry, in the other it is rather state led.
But that is, I believe, not the main innovation for theorizing in global analysis per se. We already have very insightful global comparative work by e.g. Marion Fourcade and Sarah Babb  or Monica Prasad , for example, which showed us exactly that in regard to neoliberal transformations for other cases. More generally, by now the argument to pay attention to the interaction of the global and the local is well-established for transnational theorizing, and there has been, indeed, a proliferation of various concepts to capture exactly that: not just hybridization, but also bricolage, localization, creolization, or glocalization etc.
But Clarno is actually not so much interested in developing yet another proof that there is no easy homogenization at work when we examine the diffusion of a global (economic) policy paradigm. I believe that in terms of transnational/global theorizing, something else is going on here, something that reveals how the comparative framework has served him in the construction of a real type:
By examining in detail how the adoption of neoliberal policies played out on the ground within divergent political transitions and within context-specific dynamics and configurations, Clarno creates a rich substantive basis that allows him to extract—in a grounded way and by exploiting the heuristic powers of analogy--what both settings share in the emerging systems of socio-economic inequality on a deeper level, despite empirical surface differences. That is, he looks for commonalities beneath epiphenomenal variation to carve out generic processes: namely marginalization, securitization and the proliferation of crises. The comparison thereby allows Clarno to identify these as necessary elements of a distinct kind of socio-economic racial domination, which he then interrelates in his core concept “Neoliberal Apartheid.”
Importantly, we should not equate this approach with mere induction. Induction operates from the specific to the general, but remains at the same ontological level. What seems to be at issue here, by contrast, is a movement across levels (as explicated above), from the actual and empirical to the real dimension. And this analytical movement is what Critical Realists distinguish as retroduction, as a step in theorizing that aims “to arrive at what is characteristic and constitutive” of certain social structures and their “causal processes” . In short, the comparative perspective on the local impact of a global policy paradigm provides the basis for an empirically grounded approach to abstraction that then draws upon retroduction to break into an ontologically deeper level of concept formation, which Steinmetz and Gorski so aptly call real type formation.
The specific comparative back and forth between South Africa and Palestine/Israel thereby informs also the particular critical charging of Clarno’s concept development. And it heightens the punch line for the moves of extension that he suggests at the end of the book: starting with South Africa, the apparently shining example of liberation and decolonization, that is, the exemplary case of a “post-apartheid state,” Clarno’s analysis uncovers growing inequality and a deeply racialized economy. Thus, he concludes, political apartheid has given way to economic apartheid. Once this conceptual move is made, and apartheid is extended beyond its legal-political definition, it becomes possible to transpose it further to Palestine/Israel, because on a deeper level of conceptual abstraction, the same generic processes of socio-economic racial domination are at work there too: growing inequality, marginalization, securitization and crises.
And once this generalization is made, and the real type “neoliberal apartheid” is constructed as a distinctive kind of social structure across two cases, Clarno concludes by suggesting that it might be extended to other contexts worldwide, too. In regard to the latter, I wished that the book would have told us more. Yet it might not be difficult to imagine how “neoliberal apartheid” can arm analysts with a sharp and critical concept to look at not only what goes on in the Global South, but also in the very centers of the Global North: the ghettos of exclusion in the big cities of the US, the banlieues of Paris, or the racialized outskirts of London, and their very entrenchment in neoliberalized systems of racial economic domination.
Nonetheless, the main point of this contribution is to highlight that—at a more general theorizing level—the book “Neoliberal Apartheid” offers us an intriguing view into how comparative and global analysis can be articulated to animate a particular kind of concept formation: namely that of a real type with potential global generalizability. And perhaps it is the fact that we are dealing with a concept that, as I suggest, was formed as a real type rather than a one-sided accentuated ideal type, that the book may offer us powerful conceptual am-munition for critical analyses beyond South Africa and Palestine/Israel.
 This essay was originally written as a contribution to a panel on “Globalizing Ethnography: Comparison in the Sociological Imagination,” organized Claudio Benzecry and Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz at Northwestern University in November 2017. I thank the organizers for the invitation and the participants/audience for the inspiring discussions. Special thanks go to George Steinmetz and Julian Go for comments on an earlier version.
 While the notion of real type has a longer history in the social sciences, George Steinmetz has introduced it into American Sociology from a critical realist perspective and has been collaborating with Phil Gorski on refining it as a distinctive realist approach to sociological concept formation, cf. Steinmetz and Gorski 2017. Weber 1903-1917/1949, 90.  Gorski in Steinmetz and Gorski 2017. Ibid.  Bhaskar 1978.  Steinmetz in Steinmetz and Gorski 2017.  Ibid.  Fourcade-Gourinchas and Babb 2002.  Prasad 2006.  Decoteau 2016, 71.
Bhaskar, R. 1978. A realist theory of science. Brighton: Harvester Press.
Clarno, A. 2017. Neoliberal apartheid: Palestine/Israel and South Africa after 1994. University of Chicago Press.
Decoteau, C. L. 2016. “The AART of ethnography: a critical realist explanatory research model.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 47(1), 58-82.
Fourcade-Gourinchas, M., & Babb, S. L. 2002. The rebirth of the liberal creed: Paths to neoliberalism in four countries. American Journal of Sociology 108(3), 533-579.
Gorski, P. S. 2013. “What is critical realism? And why should you care?” Contemporary Sociology 42(5), 658-70.
Prasad, M. 2006. The politics of free markets: The rise of neoliberal economic policies in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. University of Chicago Press.
Steinmetz, G. 1998. Critical realism and historical sociology. A review article. Comparative studies in society and history, 40(1), 170-186.
Steinmetz, G. and P. Gorski. 2017. “Ideal Types vs. Real Types,” Critical Realism Network Webinar Series, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOr5jvUJtQk
Weber, M. 1903-1917/1949. The Methodology of the Social Sciences. (E. Shils, H. Finch, Eds., E. Shills, & H. Finch, Trans.) New York: Free Press.