ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques 2014

Set-Theoretic Methods: Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Related Approaches

Patrick A. Mello (Week 1), Carsten Q. Schneider (Week 2), Priscilla Álamos-Concha, and Nena Oana (Teaching Assistants)

Methods Course taught for the European Consortium for Political Research at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, 24 July – 9 August 2014

Course Outline:This course introduces participants to set-theoretic methods and their application in the social sciences with an emphasis on Qualitative Comparative Analysis and fuzzy sets. The introductory course is complemented by an advanced course that is taught during the ECPR Winter School in Vienna. The course starts out by familiarising students with the basic concepts of the underlying methodological perspective, among them the central notions of necessity and sufficiency, formal logic and Boolean algebra. From there, we move to the logic and analysis of truth tables and discuss the most important problems that emerge when this analytic tool is used for analysing social science data. All analytic issues will be introduced based on crisp sets and later expanded to fuzzy sets. Right from the beginning, the course will also teach the use of the available software packages (predominantly R and fsQCA). When discussing set-theoretic methods, in-class debates will further engage on broad, general comparative social research issues, such as case selection principles, concept formation, questions of data aggregation and the treatment of causally relevant notions of time. Real-life published applications are used throughout the course. If available, participants are also encouraged to bring their own data. Some basic empirical comparative training is useful to get more out of the course, but this is no prerequisite in a strict sense. [Read Further]