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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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(p.192) Chapter 15 Generalizations
A Tale of Two Cultures

Gary Goertz

James Mahoney

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the typical modes of generalization used in the qualitative and quantitative research traditions. Generalization can be descriptive or causal. A descriptive generalization often involves one variable that “describes” some state of affairs within a population of cases. By contrast, a causal generalizations always involves at least two variables, A and B. Causal generalizations ideally specify the form and strength of the relationship between A and B within a population of cases. The two research cultures have trouble seeing and analyzing each other's typical kind of generalization. The chapter first examines generalizations in qualitative research before discussing the use of 2 x 2 tables to present set-theoretic generalizations. It then explains a well-known problem in statistical analysis involving the so-called “perfect predictors” and concludes with an assessment of the statistical significance of control variables.

Keywords:   generalization, qualitative research, quantitative research, 2 x 2 tables, set-theoretic generalization, statistical analysis, perfect predictors, control variables

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