Fuzzy-Set Social Science

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Overview

In this innovative approach to the practice of social science, Charles Ragin explores the use of fuzzy sets to bridge the divide between quantitative and qualitative methods. Paradoxically, the fuzzy set is a powerful tool because it replaces an unwieldy, "fuzzy" instrument—the variable, which establishes only the positions of cases relative to each other, with a precise one—degree of membership in a well-defined set.

Ragin argues that fuzzy sets allow a far richer dialogue between ideas and evidence in social research than previously possible. They let quantitative researchers abandon "homogenizing assumptions" about cases and causes, they extend diversity-oriented research strategies, and they provide a powerful connection between theory and data analysis. Most important, fuzzy sets can be carefully tailored to fit evolving theoretical concepts, sharpening quantitative tools with in-depth knowledge gained through qualitative, case-oriented inquiry. This book will revolutionize research methods not only in sociology, political science, and anthropology but in any field of inquiry dealing with complex patterns of causation.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226702766
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 370
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Ragin is professor of sociology and political science at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy-Sets and Beyond and The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
Pt. 1 Diversity-Oriented Research
1 Diversity-Oriented Research: Between Complexity and Generality 21
2 Constituting Populations 43
3 Studying Cases as Configurations 64
4 Causal Complexity 88
5 The Logic of Diversity-Oriented Research 120
Pt. 2 Fuzzy-Set Methods
6 Fuzzy Sets and the Study of Diversity 149
7 Using Fuzzy Sets to Constitute Cases and Populations 181
8 Fuzzy Sets and Necessary Conditions 203
9 Using Fuzzy Sets to Study Sufficient Conditions 230
10 Causal Complexity: Applying Fuzzy-Set Methods 261
11 Fuzzy Sets and the Dialogue between Ideas and Evidence 309
Bibliography 335
Index 345
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