Counterfactual Cases and Comparative Analysis

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Time: 12:00 – 1:30 PM Pacific / 3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern
Host Location: Santa Monica, conference room 1232
Other Locations: Pittsburgh (room 6208) & Washington, DC (room 4130)


A leading quantitative methodologist has recently argued: "Contemporary case-study methods are difficult to explicate in conventional statistical theory, and yet they are frequently quite powerful and successful in ways that no statistical methods could match. An important clue is that they often carry out an implicit comparison against known background relationships, most obviously so in single-case studies." But what is the precise inferential logic of this step and why is it so successful? No one knows. Ragin will attempt to explain how this logic works and why it is so successful.

About the Speaker

Charles Ragin’s main interests are methodology, political sociology, and comparative-historical research, with a special focus on such topics as the welfare state and ethnic political mobilization. His books include Handbook of Case-Based Methods (Sage, with David Byrne), Configurational Comparative Methods: Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Related Techniques (Sage, with Benoit Rihoux), Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy Sets and Beyond (University of Chicago Press), Fuzzy-Set Social Science (University of Chicago Press), The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies (University of California Press), Issues and Alternatives in Comparative Social Research (E.J. Brill), What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Research (Cambridge University Press, with Howard S. Becker), and Constructing Social Research: the Unity and Diversity of Method (Pine Forge Press; second edition with Lisa Amoroso). He is also the author of more than 150 articles in research journals and edited books, and he has developed two software packages for set-theoretic analysis of social data, Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy-Set/Qualitative Comparative Analysis. He has been awarded the Stein Rokkan Prize by the International Social Science Council, the Donald Campbell Award for Methodological Innovation by the Policy Studies Organization, and received honorable mention for the Barrington Moore, Jr. Award of the American Sociological Association. He has conducted academic workshops on comparative methodology in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and for diverse audiences in the United States.

Visiting RAND

Visitors to RAND’s Santa Monica and Pittsburgh locations are welcome to attend & must RSVP at least one day prior to the seminar.

Sponsored by the RAND Sociology Group