Charles C. Ragin: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative by The Comparative Method

By The Comparative Method

Professor Ragin proposes a man-made new technique, in response to an software of Boolean algebra, that may mix the strengths of either qualitative and quantitative sociology. Elegantly obtainable and germane to the paintings of all of the social sciences, this e-book will garner curiosity, debate, and compliment from many quarters.

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Extra resources for Charles C. Ragin: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies

Sample text

The comparative method would consider both configurations of conditions relevant since both result in the phenomenon of interest. Smelser's argument implies that the comparative method is inferior to the statistical method. Is it? The comparative method is superior to the statistical method in several important respects. First, the statistical method is not combinatorial; each relevant condition typically is examined in a piecemeal manner. Thus, for example, the statistical method can answer the question: what is the effect of having a history of class struggle net of the effect of industrialization?

As already noted, the comparative method attends to configurations of conditions; it is used to determine the different combinations of conditions associated with specific outcomes or processes. More- COMPARATIVE SOCIAL SCIENCE 15 over, the comparative method is based on "logical methods" (see Gee 1950); it uses two of Mill's methods of inductive inquiry: the method of agreement and the indirect method of difference (Mill 1843; see also Skocpol 1979 : 36; Skocpol and Somers 1980; Zelditch 1971; Ragin and Zaret 1983).

The case-oriented strategy attempts to approximate experimental rigor by identifying comparable instances of a phenomenon of interest and then analyzing the theoretically important similarities and differences among them. This approach provides a basis for establishing modest empirical generalizations concerning historically defined categories of social phenomena. Of course, there is rarely a sufficient variety of cases to prove or disprove causal arguments. Typically, several possible explanations can be supported 32 HETF.

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