Set Diagrams and Qualitative Research

James Mahoney*, Rachel Sweet Vanderpoel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Political scientists have developed important new ideas for using spatial diagrams to enhance quantitative research. Yet the potential uses of diagrams for qualitative research have not been explored systematically. We begin to correct this omission by showing how set diagrams can facilitate the application of qualitative methods and improve the presentation of qualitative findings. Set diagrams can be used in conjunction with a wide range of qualitative methodologies, including process tracing, concept formation, counterfactual analysis, sequence elaboration, and qualitative comparative analysis. We illustrate the utility of set diagrams by drawing on substantive examples of qualitative research in the fields of international relations and comparative politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-100
Number of pages36
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 2015


  • necessary and sufficient conditions
  • qualitative methods
  • sets
  • visual aids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Set Diagrams and Qualitative Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this