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The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods

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The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods

David Byrne & Charles Ragin

Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 30, 2014 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781446249413 | Print ISBN: 9781412930512 | Online ISBN: 9781446249413 | Publisher:SAGE Publications Ltd

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13. On the Duality of Cases and Variables: Correspondence Analysis (CA) and Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Ronald L. Breiger

One of the most innovative, most highly developed, and most widely influential strategies for moving beyond the well-worn dichotomy of ‘qualitative’ versus ‘quantitative’ approaches to comparative social research is the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) approach of Charles Ragin (e.g., Ragin, 1987, 2000, in press). In this chapter, I build on one of the foundations of QCA: the duality of cases and variables. By ‘duality’ I mean co-constitution, as in Breiger (1974, 2000) and Breiger and Mohr (2004). Within QCA, cases are productively understood as configurations of variables, that is, ‘as combinations of aspects and conditions’ (Ragin 2000, p. 13). At the same time, variables may be seen as configurations of cases. This idea, I believe, is fundamental to QCA, although it is not as prominently articulated as the other side of the duality. In this chapter I will illustrate some of the insight that results from thinking in this way, ...

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