News‎ > ‎

Workshop: Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets, University of Reading

posted Jan 31, 2018, 2:17 AM by Eva Thomann   [ updated Mar 17, 2018, 7:33 AM ]
Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets
The Cedars, University of Reading, UK
3 May 2018
A Seminar led by Dr Eva Thomann


Social scientists often face a trade-off between identifying regularities among cases and accounting for the complexity of social reality. Achieving more “breadth” often comes at the cost of the “depth” of analysis. Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is a technique that combines elements of both. QCA enables a systematic, context-sensitive comparison of intermediate (ca. >10) up to large numbers of cases, which is enriched with in-depth case knowledge. As such it helps researchers to model several aspects of causal complexity, such as equifinality – meaning that many ways may lead to Rome – and the configurational nature of cases, for example intersectionality and contextually contingent patterns. Rather than focusing on isolated net effects, QCA if identifies necessary and sufficient conditions for an outcome. This makes it attractive for researchers interested in finding prerequisites for a given phenomenon, or the conditions under which outcomes (such as compliance, successful revolutions, democratic consolidation, etc.) come about.


 Topics covered in the seminar

  • Origins, dissemination, variants and uses of QCA; Causal complexity: equifinality, configurations, asymmetry; The notions of necessity and sufficiency, compared to correlation

  • Sets, calibration, and the structure of social science concepts; Set relations, their consistency and coverage

  • Truth table analysis and logical minimization; Limited empirical diversity and counterfactual arguments

  • Post-QCA case selection: identifying typical and deviant cases

  • Hands-on exercises and introduction to fs/QCA software

  • Replication of a published QCA study

  • Inputs from the participants’ own research projects


    The seminar commences at 10.00 am and closes at 16.30