Beyond positivism: fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis and pragmatist research

  • Pablo Garcés Velástegui


The literature questioning posi­tivist research in the social sciences is increasing. One promising alternative, which has been gaining momentum, is pragmatism. This discussion, however, has been carried out mainly at the le­vel of the philosophy of (social) science. Consequently, this paper seeks to con­tribute to the discussion on methods and puts forward Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) as a re­search method useful for pragmatist inquiry. Beyond the quantitative-quali­tative divide, fsQCA is a set theoretical method that: i) can capture concept differences both in terms of kind (quali­tative) and degree (quantitative); and, ii) focuses on multiple conjunctural causa­tion. That is, it considers cases leading to an outcome as consisting of conditions (conjunctural causation). Moreover, different combinations of these con­ditions can lead to the same outcome (equifinality). Finally, the presence or absence of an outcome is explained by different reasons, not just the presence or absence of a condition (asymmetri­cal causality). As such, it moves beyond positivism and can be a fruitful tool for pragmatist research.

Escuela Multilingüe de Negocios y Relaciones Internacionales (LEAI)