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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Addressing Methodological Challenges, with particular reference to survey data

A research project of the School of Education.

Background

Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is an innovative case-based research method which aims to establish the configurations of necessary and/or sufficient conditions for an outcome. It is used increasingly within the social sciences. QCA reflects Ragin's assumption that much theorising in the social sciences concerns sets of cases, especially the causal properties of their characteristics, considered singly and in combination. Cases are treated as combinations of characteristics, with the latter described using sets. QCA has a form employing crisp sets where a case is either simply in or out of some set and a form employing fuzzy sets where a case can have partial membership in a set.

Funding

The project is funded by the following grant.

  • Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Addressing Methodological Challenges, With Particular Reference To Survey Data (£351526.85 from ESRC)

Aims

Given that, compared to more established methods, QCA is still in its early stages of development, there are various unresolved problems that need to be addressed. This project addresses these under three headings: sampling, technical problems (especially those arising when fuzzy set are employed) and the interpretation of QCA results. The project will undertake some mathematical-logical work, but also exploratory work with existing datasets. The latter work will serve as a test bed for the more abstract arguments developed, providing illustrative and educative case studies of the use of QCA.

Findings

Publications:

Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2013): Logical paradoxes in fsQCA: a Systematic Treatment. Working paper, URL http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/profiles/616/QCA-AMCworkingpaper1LogicalparadoxesinfsQCA.pdf

 Cooper, B., Glaesser, J. & Thomson, S. (2013): Schneider and Wagemann's proposed Enhanced Standard Analysis for Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis: some unresolved problems and some suggestions for addressing them. Conference paper, given at the conference “Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Applications and Methodological Challenges”, Goethe University, Frankfurt, 22-23 November 2013

Published Results

Working Paper

  • Cooper, B., Glaesser, J. & Thomson, S. (2014). Schneider and Wagemann's proposed Enhanced Standard Analysis for Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Some unresolved problems and some suggestions for addressing them. COMPASSS Working Paper 2014-77. COMPASSS (COMPArative Methods for Systematic cross-caSe analySis) 22.

Journal Article

  • Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). Analysing necessity and sufficiency with Qualitative Comparative Analysis: how do results vary as case weights change? Quality & Quantity 50(1): 327-346.
  • Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). Exploring the robustness of set theoretic findings from a large n fsQCA: An illustration from the sociology of education. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 19(4): 445-459.
  • Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). Qualitative Comparative Analysis, necessary conditions and limited diversity: some problematic consequences of Schneider and Wagemann’s Enhanced Standard Analysis. Field Methods 28(3): 300-315.

Staff

From the School of Education

From other departments