This course introduces participants to set-theoretic methods and their application in the social sciences with an emphasis on Qualitative Comparative Analysis and fuzzy sets. The introductory course is complemented by an advanced course that is taught during the ECPR Winter School in Vienna. The course starts out by familiarising students with the basic concepts of the underlying methodological perspective, among them the central notions of necessity and sufficiency, formal logic and Boolean algebra. From there, we move to the logic and analysis of truth tables and discuss the most important problems that emerge when this analytic tool is used for analysing social science data. All analytic issues will be introduced based on crisp sets and later expanded to fuzzy sets. Right from the beginning, the course will also teach the use of the available software packages (predominantly R and fsQCA). When discussing set-theoretic methods, in-class debates will further engage on broad, general comparative social research issues, such as case selection principles, concept formation, questions of data aggregation and the treatment of causally relevant notions of time. Real-life published applications are used throughout the course. If available, participants are also encouraged to bring their own data. Some basic empirical comparative training is useful to get more out of the course, but this is no prerequisite in a strict sense.
Carsten Q. Schneider is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Central European University (Hungary). His research focuses on regime transitions, the consolidation and qualities of democracy, and measuring political regimes. His book The Consolidation of Democracy in Europe and Latin America has been published with Routledge in 2009. His second field of interest consists in methodology, especially set-theoretic methods, with a focus on Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). He has published in Sociological Methods and Research, European Journal of Political Research, Political Research Quarterly, and others. His book Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Science, co-authored with Claudius Wagemann, has been published with Cambridge University Press in 2012.
Patrick A. Mello is a research associate and lecturer at the Chair of International Politics, Technische Universität Dresden. His research interests include international relations theory, the influence of domestic politics on foreign policy and comparative and case study research methods. He has recently published in the European Journal of International Relations and the Journal of International Relations and Development. His book ‘Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict: Military Involvement in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq’ will be published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.