American Sociological Association

Courses and Conferences

This educational component provides opportunities for attendees to get in-depth training in special subject areas. Intensive 2.5- to six-hour courses are held pre-convention on Friday, August 19 and led by expert faculty. Registrants will receive certificates documenting their participation and completion of these courses.  Attendance at each course is limited.  Prepaid registration is required; fees are $75.00. Reservations for the course are accepted in order of receipt registration payment.

A total of two courses will be offered at the 2016 Annual Meeting. 

Course 05. Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets (Friday, August 19, 10:00am-5:30pm)

Organizer and Leader: Charles C. Ragin, University of California, Irvine

Description: The analytic challenge of case-oriented research is not simply that the number of cases is small, but that researchers gain useful in-depth knowledge of cases that is difficult to represent using conventional forms (e.g., representations that emphasize the "net effects" of "independent variables"). The researcher is left wondering how to represent knowledge of cases in a way that is meaningful and compact, but which also does not deny case complexity. Set-theoretic methods such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), the central focus of this workshop, offer a solution. QCA is fundamentally a case-oriented method that can be applied to small-to-moderate size Ns. It is most useful when researchers have knowledge of each case included in an investigation, there is a relatively small number of such cases (e.g., 10-50), and the investigator seeks to compare cases as configurations. With these methods it is possible to construct representations of cross-case patterns that allow for substantial heterogeneity and diversity. This workshop offers an introduction to the approach and to the use of the software package fsQCA (a free download from Both the crisp (i.e., Boolean) and fuzzy-set versions of the method will be presented.
Fuzzy set analysis is gaining popularity in the social sciences today because of the close connections it enables among verbal theory, substantive knowledge (especially in the assessment of degree of set membership), and the analysis of empirical evidence. Fuzzy sets are especially useful in case-oriented research, where the investigator has a degree of familiarity with the cases included in the investigation and seeks to understand cases configurationally—as specific combinations of aspects or elements. Using fuzzy-set methods, case outcomes can be examined in ways that allow for causal complexity, where different combinations of causally relevant conditions combine to generate the outcome in question. Also, with set-theoretic methods it is a possible to evaluate arguments that causal conditions are necessary or sufficient. Analyses of this type are outside the scope of conventional analytic methods.
Specific topics addressed in the course include: the differences between set-theoretic and correlational methods; conventional crisp sets versus fuzzy sets; the calibration of fuzzy sets; how calibration differs from conventional forms of measurement; analyzing fuzzy set relations; the correspondence between concepts and fuzzy set membership scores; the correspondence between theoretical statements and the analysis of fuzzy set relations; using fuzzy sets to study cases as configurations; and using fuzzy sets to unravel causal complexity, with a special focus on equifinality.

  • Fee: $75.00

Course 06. Incorporating American Community Survey and US Census Data into Undergraduate Courses (Friday, August 19, 1:30-5:30 pm)

Organizer and Co-Leaders: Organizer William H. Frey, Brookings Institution; Co-Leaders:  John Paul DeWitt, University of Michigan; Jill Bouma, Berea College; Katherine R. Rowell, Sinclair Community College; and Esther Isabelle Wilder, Lehman College

Description: This course will focus on how professors can integrate analyses of U.S. Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data in relevant, user-friendly ways in such courses as Intro Sociology, Social Problems, Stratification, Race Relations, the Family, Sociology of Aging, Population, and more. Adding data analysis to substantive undergraduate sociology courses supports the American Sociological Association initiatives to introduce students to data "early and often" throughout the curriculum.  This course will introduce resources available for integrating data analysis into a wide range of sociology course subjects and levels.

Participants will learn about the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) directed by Professor Frey at the University of Michigan. The course will begin with an overview of the SSDAN project and data analysis materials. Brief tutorials on the easy-to-use software tools will follow, with examples drawn from existing U.S. Census and ACS access tools. In a "hands-on" session, two person teams will "play the role of students" and conduct analyses of pre-tailored 1950-2010 Census, and 2010 ACS data.

  • Fee: $75.00


Boost your skills at one of these three specialized conference opportunities. They are held pre-convention on Friday, August 19 and led by expert faculty.  Attendance at each conference is limited. Prepaid registration is required. Reservations for the conferences are accepted in order of receipt registration payment.


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