Skip to main content

A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting Quantitative and Qualitative Research

  • James Mahoney (a1) and Gary Goertz (a2)

The quantitative and qualitative research traditions can be thought of as distinct cultures marked by different values, beliefs, and norms. In this essay, we adopt this metaphor toward the end of contrasting these research traditions across 10 areas: (1) approaches to explanation, (2) conceptions of causation, (3) multivariate explanations, (4) equifinality, (5) scope and causal generalization, (6) case selection, (7) weighting observations, (8) substantively important cases, (9) lack of fit, and (10) concepts and measurement. We suggest that an appreciation of the alternative assumptions and goals of the traditions can help scholars avoid misunderstandings and contribute to more productive “cross-cultural” communication in political science.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 273 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 2468 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 4th January 2017 - 24th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.