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WP Series » WP Series 2010

Quaranta, Mario. 2010. "Concept Structures and Fuzzy Set Theory: A Proposal for Concept Formation and Operationalization". COMPASSS WP Series 2010-62. Published online 16 November 2010.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Quaranta2010.pdf.

Abstract: Concept formation strategies can be divided in positivist or interpretivist approaches. The first relies on classification and taxonomy strategies as tools for concept formation, while the second draws on hermeneutics and uses the ideal type for the definition of concepts. I argue that both have limits concerning concept formation. The positivist approach has strong naturalist assumptions, which can be inadequate to take into account the contingency of the empirical world. By contrast, the interpretivist one is very focused on the historical specificity of concepts, which may lead to their inapplicability. A solution to these problems comes from fuzzy set theory. This holds a potential for concept formation because it has as its main strengths the possibility of configurational thinking and the use of the truth table. Concepts can be built including all the possible attributes into a table and this can have several advantages. Fuzzy set theory also contributes to the creation of partial concepts, representing configurations or sub-types. In this paper, I develop this strategy, illustrating, first, the weaknesses and the strengths of the classical approaches. Then, I discuss the ontology and logic behind fuzzy set theory and demonstrate that it can be a very useful approach to concept formation. In the end, I test applying this strategy to the concept of political participation.

Thiem, Alrik. 2010. "Set-Relational Fit and the Formulation of Transformational Rules in fsQCA". COMPASSS WP Series 2010-61. Published online 4 October 2010.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Thiem2010.pdf.

Abstract: Interest in the application of fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) has increased markedly among political scientists in recent years. Although fsQCA is often contrasted with regression analysis, questions of functional form have thus far been hardly addressed. However, functional form matters as much in the former tool kit of social enquiry as it does in the latter. This article demonstrates how coverage as a measure of set-relational fit can guide the formulation of transformational rules similar to the use of the coefficient of determination in regression-analytic tests of functional misspecification. Interaction effects between membership function and crossover anchor choice on coverage are analysed in the context of set-theoretic relations of sufficiency between condition and outcome. Depending on the relative location of the crossover anchor, changes in the transformational rules by which base variables are calibrated can increase or decrease coverage similar to the effect of changes in functional specification on the coefficient of determination. Most importantly, significant reductions in uncovered membership relative to total membership provide an explicit and transparent foundation on which calibration strategies can be based.

Emmenegger, Patrick. 2010b. "Non-Events in Macro-Comparative Social Research: Why we should care and how we can analyze them". COMPASSS WP Series 2010-60. Published online 29 September 2010.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Emmenegger2010b.pdf.

Abstract: This paper addresses the role of non-events in macro-comparative social research. Non-events are defined as critical junctures during which actors do not alter the policy path although the counterfactual case of policy change was a likely possibility. Macro-comparative researchers often overlook non-events. The reason for this is simple. Critical junctures are often identified on the basis of change that took place during these critical junctures. In contrast, there is no approach to identify critical junctures in the absence of change. Thus, although more or less explicit decisions to not change policy paths can be very informative, comparative researchers overlook these non-events because they do not realize that there were considerable possibilities for change during these critical junctures. In this paper, we discuss the role of non-events in macro-comparative social research. First, we explain how counterfactual theorizing can be used to integrate non-events in explanatory statements. Second, we demonstrate, using an example from our own research, how the consideration of non-events can advance our knowledge. Finally, we suggest a procedure, which can be used to analyze non-events and which is based on the combined usage of fsQCA to identify notconsistent cases, process tracing to determine the relevant critical junctures and disciplined counterfactual theorizing to probe whether change was really a possibility.

Emmenegger, Patrick. 2010a. "How good are your Counterfactuals? Assessing Quantitative Macro-Comparative Welfare State Research with Qualitative Criteria". COMPASSS WP Series 2011-59. Published online 29 September 2010.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Emmenegger2010a.pdf.

Abstract: All causal statements based on historical data - both in qualitative and quantitative social research - rely on counterfactuals. In quantitative research, scholars attempt to arrive at valid counterfactuals by emulating an experimental design. However, because of treatments that are impossible to manipulate and the non-random assignment of data to treatment and control groups, causal statements are often based on invalid counterfactuals. In contrast, in qualitative research, scholars attempt to arrive at valid counterfactuals by probing the historical and logical consistency of counterfactuals and by acknowledging the interconnectedness of events. Criteria to evaluate counterfactuals have been developed, especially in the international relations literature. These criteria allow for a discussion of the quality of counterfactuals used in causal statements. In this article, we suggest using these qualitative criteria to evaluate counterfactuals in quantitative macro-comparative welfare state research. We argue that these criteria can help us identifying erroneous causal inferences in quantitative research based on historical data. The usefulness of such an approach is illustrated using the seminal contribution of Alesina and Glaeser (2004) on racial-linguistic fractionalization and social expenditure.

Delreux, Tom and Delphine Hesters. 2010. "Solving Contradictory Simplifying Assumptions in QCA: Presentation of a New Best Practice". COMPASSS WP Series 2010-58. Published online 4 May 2010.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\DelreuxHesters2010.pdf.

Abstract: One of the strongest features of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is the possibility for explicit use of remainders in order to contribute to more parsimonious results. However, as a consequence of the way in which QCA procedures are currently executed, simplifying assumptions made about the remainders can be in contradiction with each other. As contradictions - the same configuration of conditions leading to different outcomes - go against the underlying principles of the methodology and make the research results invalid, researchers using QCA should control for contradictory simplifying assumptions (CSA) and solve them if they have emerged during the analysis. In today's literature, one way of solving CSA has been introduced and replicated by different scholars. The purpose of this paper is to introduce an alternative technique for solving CSA and to demonstrate with real-life data how our solution can be applied in practice. We believe our technique is a refinement and improvement on both the process and result level; it remains closer to the fundamental principles of QCA and the results are possibly more parsimonious. Hence, we propose it as a new best practice.

Cebotari, Victor. 2010. "Protesting Ethnic Minorities in Europe: A Fuzzy-Set Analysis". COMPASSS WP Series 2010-57. Published online 8 March 2010.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Cebotari2010.pdf.

Abstract: This study analyzes the contextual nature of ethnogroup mobilization in Europe. The focus is on ethnopolitical protest, a form of group mobilization involving peaceful protest. The analysis is based on the "Minorities at Risk" dataset which consists of data on ethnic minorities that are most vulnerable to discrimination practices within European countries. The paper assesses the status of necessity and sufficiency for several conditions in relation to both the presence and the absence of strong ethnopolitical protest for 29 selected minority groups: democracy level, political discrimination, geographical concentration, ethnic fractionalization and the degree of national pride among members of the minority group. The fuzzy-set analysis highlights that minority groups are engaged in strong, but peaceful protest when they (1) are mobilized in a democratic environment, (2) live in a county with a high degree of ethnic fractionalization, and (3) either have weak feelings of national pride or are ethnically concentrated in compact territorial locations. On the other side of the outcome, minority groups without strong ethnopolitical protest (1) have strong feelings of national pride among members of the group, (2) face no political discrimination, and (3) reside in emerging democracies. These results demonstrate the utility of fuzzy set analysis for the investigation of causal complexity in the area of ethnic mobilization.


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