Set-Theoretic Methods

Course Description: 

This is an advanced methodological course on set-theoretic methods for the social sciences. While the spectrum of a set-theoretic methods is broad, including techniques such as Mill’s meth- ods or typological theory, this course primarily focuses on the crisp-set and fuzzy-set versions of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). Invented by Charles Ragin [1987], this technique has undergone various modifications, improvements, and ramifications [Ragin, 2000, 2008]. These methods are applied in fields as diverse as political science, public policy, international relations, sociology, business and management studies, or even musicology (see This course aims at enabling students to produce a publishable QCA of their own. In order to achieve this, this course provides both the formal set theoretical underpinnings of QCA and the technical and research practical skills necessary for performing a QCA. The practical part is exclusively performed in the R software environment.

Learning Outcomes: 

The overall grade will primarily indicate the ability of the students to comprehend two things: (a) to understand the distinct logic of social inquiry that one is buying into when applying set-theoretic methods such as QCA and (b) to master the practical tricks of the trade when performing a QCA. The learning outcomes of the doctoral program are supported and measured by the present course in the following ways: The ability to re ect on some of the major methodological schools in the discipline; to deploy eective oral presentation and discussion skills as measured primarily by the in-class participation. The skills to employ cutting-edge methods are re ected by the mid-term paper and the final paper.