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A Tale of Two CulturesQualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences$
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Gary Goertz and James Mahoney

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149707

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149707.001.0001

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Concepts: Definitions, Indicators, and Error

Concepts: Definitions, Indicators, and Error

(p.127) Chapter 10 Concepts: Definitions, Indicators, and Error
A Tale of Two Cultures

Gary Goertz

James Mahoney

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers two fundamental differences between the quantitative and qualitative research traditions with respect to conceptualization and measurement: these differences are related to the relative emphasis placed on definitions versus indicators in the two cultures. The first difference concerns the relative importance assigned to issues of concept definition versus issues of concept measurement. Qualitative researchers are centrally concerned with definitional issues and the meaning of their concepts, whereas their quantitative counterparts are more interested in the quantitative measurement of latent variables. The second difference concerns error and the coding of cases. The chapter examines how characteristics versus indicators are defined in the qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. It also discusses the relationship between “error,” which is central to all statistics, and “fuzziness,” which is important in qualitative research.

Keywords:   qualitative research, conceptualization, measurement, definitions, indicators, concepts, error, characteristics, quantitative research, fuzziness

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