Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is said to be a method that can be used to uncover social complexity. However, this complexity is often ‘missing in action’ in actual empirical applications of the method. We aim to rearticulate the properties of social and causal complexity in their relationship to QCA. We first discuss the reasons why this relationship is not fully articulated in the current research. Rooted in a realist understanding of social emergence, we identify four possible strategies to bring social complexity back on focus when performing QCA: the use of thick case descriptions; the opening of the black box of conditions, by stacking and/or by developing them in a grounded manner; the integration of time in the method itself; and the combination of QCA with other, more time-sensitive methods.

Causality, complexity, emergence, qualitative comparative analysis, realism
dx.doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2020.1799636, hdl.handle.net/1765/129412
International Journal of Social Research Methodology

Gerrits, L.M, & Pagliarin, S. (Sofia). (2020). Social and causal complexity in Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA): strategies to account for emergence. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. doi:10.1080/13645579.2020.1799636