A tale of two cultures: Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research

James Mahoney*, Gary Goerts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

348 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-249
Number of pages23
JournalPolitical Analysis
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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