Unpacking Configurational Dynamics: Sequence Analysis and QCA as a Mixed Methods Design
In this contribution, we bring together the strengths of sequence analysis (SA) and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) in a sequential mixed-methods design. Both methods rely on an epistemological framework that combines analytical and holistic elements. SA can be applied as a first step to analyze the unfolding of phenomena over time. Specifically, through discrepancy analysis of state sequences, one can identify the time points when trajectories (start to) diverge from each other. In a second step, QCA can be applied to investigate whether, at such crucial time points, some particular configurations of factors are logically-sufficient for the occurrence of a given state (or outcome). We provide an illustrative application to women’s employment trajectories in divided Germany by using data from the Adults Cohort of the German National Educational Panel (NEPS). By preserving the analytical and holistic perspective on trajectories, our proposed design unveils the dynamic of configurations sufficient for women to be employment or education over the life course. We conclude with an overview of research fields where our framework holds the promise of being fruitfully applied.
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