Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Qualitative Comparative Analysis
Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) was first introduced to the social sciences by Charles Ragin to identify complex patterns of causation by processing social science data with Boolean algorithms. By conducting a formalized comparison, QCA introduces the logic of qualitative research to the study of a larger number of cases than are usually examined with qualitative methods. QCA usually is employed with a middle-sized number of cases (10–30). The approach taken by QCA has been described as a middle course between case-oriented and variable-oriented methods. In his initial presentation, Ragin (1987) argues that variables should not be examined detached from the cases, as this is done in purely variable-oriented approaches. Based on the assumption that a causal explanation of social phenomena always must include considerations about contextual factors as well as the possibility of conjunctural combinations of relevant conditions, QCA does not process individual variables but includes cases as configurations in ...