I am a fan of "building theory," which is the heart of Luker's book and, yes, the heart of her historical-comparative method, perhaps because I was in English literature and I built theories or interpretations about texts out of textual evidence of one kind or another. A notion like "pattern recognition" (190) sounds good to me. However, Luker argues that historical sociology attempts to build theory by identifying particular relationships: either "what events in the past shaped how this turned out in the present?" or "why did things turn out this way in one place and another way in another place?" (191). These questions represent a particular kind of history, one that focuses on causes and effects. They aim to build generalizations.
I want think about my research in relation to her method because I recognize the power of causal explanation to make research seem valuable and important and original. (That's an assumption worth interrogating.) I want to say that certain experiences, represented in texts, influenced the development of certain social and cultural formations. I'm pretty sure they did, but I won't know until I do a lot more research. But what if they merely reflect those formations?