NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1136904
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0049-1241
Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis for Identifying Causal Chains in Configurational Data: A Methodological Commentary on Baumgartner and Epple (2014)
Thiem, Alrik
Sociological Methods & Research, v44 n4 p723-736 Nov 2015
In a recent contribution to "Sociological Methods & Research," Baumgartner and Epple (B&E) employ Coincidence Analysis (CNA) to explain the outcome of the vote on the Swiss minaret initiative of 2009. Although the authors also present a substantive argument, their principal objective is to prove the superiority of CNA over Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) due to the former's capability of identifying causal chains in configurational data without resort to Quine-McCluskey (QMC) optimization, whereby logical contradictions are allegedly introduced into the latter's minimization process that trivialize the results. In this methodological commentary, I demonstrate that CNA does not challenge QCA "per se" but merely seeks to find fault with QMC. However, the link between QCA and QMC has never been inextricable, and alternative algorithms not beset by the "one-difference restriction" B&E consider problematic have long been in use. Hence, it follows that CNA introduces a new algorithm but does not perforce offer a superior method. To support this argument, I showcase the untapped potential of QCA for identifying causal chains in data that even incorporate multivalent factors. In employing the eQMC algorithm, whose general approach to Boolean minimization resembles that of CNA in decisive parts, I extend the authors' original analysis in several directions, without generating logical contradictions along the way. I conclude that future research should continue to explore the methodological implications of the issues which CNA's introduction has raised for QCA. Ultimately, however, the integration of their individual strengths represents one of the most promising avenues for the further development of configurational comparative methods.
SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 800-818-7243; Tel: 805-499-9774; Fax: 800-583-2665; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A