Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Institution: see Organisers & Supporters

Programme of study: International Research Workshop

Lecturer: Dr. Jonas Buche, Leibniz University Hannover

Date: see Workshop Programme

Max. number of participants: 20

Credit Points: 5 CP for participating in the whole IRWS

Language of instruction: English

Contents: Since the publication of the seminal work “The Comparative Method” by Charles Ragin in 1987, set-theoretic methods and especially Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) have become a common research strategy in the social sciences. Set-theoretic methods analyse cases with regard to the identification of sufficient and necessary conditions and assume set relations to be equifinal, conjunctural and asymmetric. Not least since so-called fuzzy sets have been introduced to the method, there has been a rising interest in QCA as a welcome alternative to both small-n case studies and large-n statistical analyses. In short, QCA is recommended if ‘if…then’ hypotheses are analysed; if the goal is to derive sufficient and necessary conditions; if a comparison is planned; and if there is a mid-sized number of cases (between 10 and 60+).

The course offers a comprehensive introduction to QCA and is both conceptually and technically oriented. It starts off with an overview of the basics of set theory and demarcates QCA as a case-oriented method from both the quantitative and the interpretive-qualitative research paradigm. Through the notion of necessary and sufficient conditions and of truth tables, the single elements are built into the Truth Table Algorithm. However, this algorithm is not free of problems. Therefore, some pitfalls and strategies on how to overcome them are presented. On the third day, the software tool fsQCA will be introduced and applied to published studies.

Requirement of students: No prior knowledge is required. We will use the software fsQCA2.5 which can be downloaded at www.fsqca.com.

Recommended literature and pre-readings:

Buche, Jonas. 2017. “Assessing the Quality of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) – Evaluation, Improvement, Application”. Hannover: Leibniz Universität (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323749578_Assessing_the_Quality_of_Qualitative_Comparative_Analysis_QCA_Evaluation_Improvement_Application)

Cebotari, Victor, and Maarten P. Vink (2013). “A Configurational Analysis of Ethnic Protest in Europe.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 54(4), 298-324.

Schneider, Carsten Q./Wagemann, Claudius, 2012. Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences. A Guide to Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

You have to register for the International Research Workshop to participate in this course.