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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2014). Exploring the consequences of a recalibration of causal conditions when assessing sufficiency with fuzzy set QCA. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(4): 387-401.

Author(s) from Durham


The use of Charles Ragin’s Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is increasing in the social sciences. However, some of its characteristics, especially those of its fuzzy set variant, are still not well understood by users. QCA, a set theoretic method, aims to describe, in a Boolean form, the configurations of conditions that are necessary and/or sufficient for some outcome. The calibration of set memberships is a central feature. We discuss how two alternative calibrations of a condition affect the assessment of consistency with sufficiency. Using first an abstract example and then an empirical one from the sociology of education, we explain why “stricter” calibration of conditions results in higher consistency with sufficiency. We demonstrate that conventional truth table analysis is not an ideal way to compare the analytic consequences of alternative calibrations and therefore employ an alternative which allows a more direct comparison of consistency indices while keeping comparative configurational contexts intact.

School of Education