Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences
A Guide to Qualitative Comparative Analysis


Part of Strategies for Social Inquiry

  • Date Published: August 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107601130
Average user rating
(2 reviews)

£ 30.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Request inspection copy

Lecturers may request a copy of this title for inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and other set-theoretic methods distinguish themselves from other approaches to the study of social phenomena by using sets and the search for set relations. In virtually all social science fields, statements about social phenomena can be framed in terms of set relations, and using set-theoretic methods to investigate these statements is therefore highly valuable. This book guides readers through the basic principles of set theory and then on to the applied practices of QCA. It provides a thorough understanding of basic and advanced issues in set-theoretic methods together with tricks of the trade, software handling and exercises. Most arguments are introduced using examples from existing research. The use of QCA is increasing rapidly and the application of set-theory is both fruitful and still widely misunderstood in current empirical comparative social research. This book provides the comprehensive guide to these methods for researchers across the social sciences.

    • A useful tool for scholars interested in learning the methods, instructors who teach courses, users who want to improve their skills, and readers and reviewers who need to evaluate manuscripts based on set-theoretic methods
    • Features 'At a Glance' boxes which summarise the most important issues required for the reader to understand the subsequent arguments
    • Gives state of the art, innovative and new solutions to long-standing method-inherent problems
    • Contains many real-life examples, clearly demonstrating the fields where QCA can be applied
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'We have long needed a volume that comprehensively, clearly, and systematically covers Boolean and fuzzy set methodologies. Schneider and Wagemann have filled this need with their book, and it will certainly play a central role in guiding research and teaching.' Gary Goertz, University of Arizona

    'For relationships that can be viewed in terms of sufficiency or necessity, set-theory provides a powerful tool to model causality. QCA, in its various forms, provides a bridge between single case studies and quantitative analysis of linkages among interval-level or ratio variables across multiple cases by providing the tools to examine relationships in set-theoretic terms among dichotomies or concepts defined as fuzzy sets. This clearly written and comprehensive introduction to QCA, which insists on causal analyses that are explicitly intended to study possible multiple pathways to given outcomes, is must-reading for social scientists who wish to expand their methodological horizons and get away from the all too common 'throw as many variables as possible into the regression hopper and see which ones come up statistically significant' form of barefoot empiricism.' Bernie Grofman, University of California, Irvine

    'This is the first volume that bridges the fundamentals of set-theoretic methods with the many ongoing innovations. A must for anyone aiming to exploit the full potential of the QCA toolbox.' Benoît Rihoux, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, and COMPASSS international network

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    18th Jan 2014 by Dti

    I have read this book up and including to Chapter 9 in regards to a course I took at my university, for which I am about to write an exam in a few days. Therefore, I have thoroughly dealt with the contents of this part of the book. I have enjoyed the easy style of writing used and the clear introduction into the topic throughout chapter 1 to 4. Unfortunately, the explanatory quality of the book tends to decline when it comes to more complex matters. I personally had the greatest problems when it came to the intermediate solution and how it can be approached. Even though the path is described, it lacks important details, which left me completely in the dark when trying to logically comprehend the process. Furthermore, the vocabulary used is not unified. E.g., the authors talk about easy counterfactuals in one part, easy assumptions in another part, then again show very diffent notions in graphics, which actually aimed at reducing complexity, however failed in that point. In sum, the book is quite good for a first touch upon the topic of QCA, then however starts to lack explanatory power when it comes to more complex matters. I think, since the authors explicitly claim this book to be for beginners and advanced students, there is a need for clearer explanations of certain topics.

    16th Jun 2016 by JaHa

    This is a supremely well structured, easy to read book that gives a good and thorough introduction to QCA. It covers the underlying set-logic, the steps in conducting an analysis, potential pitfalls, als well as different functions of QCA in the research process and in mixed-methods. The book is of great help for conducting QCA research, but I also heavily rely on it for teaching. Additionally, the online resources, which include exercises, are extremely helpful. Anything that is not as thoroughly covered in the book, such as software issues, is adressed in a very practical manner in the additional resources, which even include numerous data sets. I couldn't recommend this book more, for research, learning as well as for teaching.

    See all reviews

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107601130
    • length: 370 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 173 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • contains: 37 b/w illus. 55 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Set-Theoretic Methods: The Basics:
    1. Sets, set membership, and calibration
    2. Notions and operations in set theory
    3. Set relations
    4. Truth tables
    Part II. Neat Formal Logic Meets Noisy Social Science Data:
    5. Parameters of fit
    6. Limited diversity and logical remainders
    7. The truth table algorithm
    Part III. Potential Pitfalls and Suggestions for Solutions:
    8. Potential pitfalls in the standard analysis procedure and suggestions for improvement
    9. Potential pitfalls in the analysis of necessity and sufficiency and suggestions for avoiding them
    Part IV. Variants of QCA as a Technique Meet QCA as an Approach:
    10. Variants of QCA
    11. Data analysis technique meets set-theoretic approach
    12. Looking back: looking ahead

  • Resources for

    Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences

    Carsten Q. Schneider, Claudius Wagemann

    Find resources associated with this title

    Type Name Unlocked * Format Size

    Showing of

    Back to top

    This title is supported by one or more locked resources. Access to locked resources is granted exclusively by Cambridge University Press to lecturers whose faculty status has been verified. To gain access to locked resources, lecturers should sign in to or register for a Cambridge user account.

    Please use locked resources responsibly and exercise your professional discretion when choosing how you share these materials with your students. Other lecturers may wish to use locked resources for assessment purposes and their usefulness is undermined when the source files (for example, solution manuals or test banks) are shared online or via social networks.

    Supplementary resources are subject to copyright. Lecturers are permitted to view, print or download these resources for use in their teaching, but may not change them or use them for commercial gain.

    If you are having problems accessing these resources please contact

  • Authors

    Carsten Q. Schneider, Central European University, Budapest
    Carsten Q. Schneider is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Imperfections in Democracies at Central European University, Hungary.

    Claudius Wagemann, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
    Claudius Wagemann is Lecturer in the Doctoral Program in Political Science at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (SUM), Florence.

Browse by related subject

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.