Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Fuzzy Set Theory and Concepts: A Proposal for Concept Formation and Operationalization

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

AbstractThe quantity-quality debate in social sciences also concerns concept formation and operationalization. The first approach has strong naturalist assumptions, while the second one focuses on the historical specificity of concepts. The solution to overcome this divide would be finding a path which balances the two perspectives. In this article we argue that fuzzy set theory can be a helpful tool for concept formation and operationalization. The application of fuzzy set theory to concept formation and operationalization provides, first, the opportunity of looking at concepts as complex constructs made up of attributes logically interconnected one with the other and, second, of measuring them accordingly. Thus, after presenting our general argument, we show a theoretical and an empirical application of how to use fuzzy sets in concept formation and operationalization.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political ScienceLUISS “Guido Carli” –


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Adcock Robert , Collier David "“Measurement Validity: A Shared Standard for Qualitative and Quantitative Research”" American Political Science Review 2001 Vol 25 3 529 546
2. Aus Jonathan P. "“Conjunctural causation in comparative case-oriented research”" Quality and Quantity 2009 Vol 43 2 173 183
3. Barnes Samuel H. , Kaase Max Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies 1979 Beverly Hills Sage
4. Becker Howard S. Tricks of the Trade. How to Think About Your Research While You’re Doing It 1998 Chicago Chicago University Press
5. Belohlavek Radim , Klir George J. , Lewis Harold W. III , Way Eileen C. "“Concepts and fuzzy sets: Misunderstandings, misconceptions and oversights”" International Journal of Approximate Reasoning 2009 Vol 51 1 23 34
6. Bollen Kenneth , Jackman Robert W. "“Democracy, atability, and dichotomies”" American Sociological Review 54 1989 612 621
7. Bourdieu Pierre Science of Science and Reflexivity 2004 Chicago University of Chicago Press
8. Bendix Richard "“Concepts and generalizations in comparative sociological studies”" American Sociological Review 1963 Vol 28 4 532 539
9. Bevir Mark , Kedar Asaf "“Concept formation in political science: An anti–naturalist critique of qualitative methodology”" Perspectives on Politics 2008 Vol 6 3 503 517
10. Collier David , Adcock Robert "“Democracy and dichotomies: A pragmatic approach to choices about concepts”" Annual Review of Political Science 1999 Vol 2 537 565
11. Collier David , Gerring John Concepts and Method in Social Science. The Tradition of Giovanni Sartori 2008 London Routledge
12. Collier David , Levitsky Steven "“Democracy with adjectives: Conceptual innovation in comparative research”" World Politics 1997 Vol 49 3 430 451
13. Collier David , Mahon James E. "“Conceptual “stretching” revisited: Adapting categories in comparative analysis”" American Political Science Review 1993 Vol 87 4 845 855
14. Crozier Michel , Huntington Samuel , Watanuki Joji The Crisis of Democracy 1975 New York New York University Press
15. Dahl Robert Polyarchy. Participation and Opposition 1971 New Haven Yale University Press
16. Dahl Robert Democracy and its Critics 1989 New Haven Yale University Press
17. Dalton Russell J. Citizen Politics in Western Democracies. Public Opinion and Political Parties in the United States, Great Britain, West Germany, and France 1988 Chatham Chatham House
18. Dalton Russell J. Democratic Challenges. Democratic Choices. The Erosion of Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies 2004 Oxford Oxford University Press
19. Della Porta Donatella , Keating Micheal Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences. A Pluralist Perspective 2008 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
20. Diamond Larry , Leonardo Morlino Assessing the Quality of Democracy 2005 Baltimore John Hopkins University Press
21. Easton David A System Analysis of Political Life 1965 New York Wiley
22. European Social Survey ESS Round 5 (2010/2011) 2012 London Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, City University London
23. Fox John Applied Regression Analysis and Generalized Linear Models 2008 Thousand Oaks Sage
24. Gelman Andrew , Weakliem David "“Of beauty, sex and power”" American Scientist 2009 Vol 97 310 316
25. Gerring John "“What makes a concept good? A criterial framework for understanding concept formation in the social sciences”" Polity 1999 Vol 31 3 357 393
26. Goertz Gary Social Science Concepts: A User’s Guide 2006 Princeton Princeton University Press
27. Klingemann Hans-Dieter , Fuchs Dieter Citizen and the State 1995 Oxford University Press
28. Komatsu Lloyd "“Recent views on conceptual structure”" Psychological Bullettin 1992 Vol 112 3 500 526
29. Kosko Bart Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic 1993 New York Hyperion
30. Kvist Jon "“Welfare reform in the nordic countries in the 1990s: Using fuzzy-set theory to assess conformity to ideal types”" Journal of European Social Policy 1999 Vol 9 3 231 252
31. Kvist Jon "“Fuzzy set ideal type analysis”" Journal of Business Research 2006 Vol 60 474 481
32. Kvist Jon Rihoux Benoit , Grimm Heike M. "“Diversity, ideal types and fuzzy sets in comparative welfare state research”" Innovative Comparative Methods for Policy Analysis. Beyond the Quantitative–Qualitative Divide 2007 Heidelberg Springer Verlag 167 184
33. Lakoff George "“Hedges: A study in meaning criteria and the logic of fuzzy concepts”" Journal of Philosophical Logic 1973 Vol 2 4 458 508
34. Lakoff George Woman, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveals About the Mind 1987 Chicago University of Chicago Press
35. Lazarsfeld Paul F. "“Some remarks on typological procedures in social theory”" Zeitdchrift fur Sozialforshung 1937 Vol 6 119 139
36. Levi Margaret , Stoker Laura "“Political Trust and Trustworthiness”" Annual Review of Political Science 2000 Vol 3 475 507
37. Mahoney James , Goertz Gary "“A tale of two cultures: Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research”" Political Analysis 2006 Vol 14 3 227 249
38. Mantzavinos Chrysostomos Naturalistic Hermeneutics 2005 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
39. Milbrath Lester W. , Goel Madan L. Political Participation: How and Why Do People Get Involved in Politics 1977 Lanham University Press of America
40. Newton Kenneth Dalton Russell J. , Klingemann Hans-Dieter "“Social and Political Trust”" The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior 2007 Oxford Oxford University Press 342 361
41. Norris Pippa Critical Citizens 1999 Oxford Oxford University Press
42. Norris Pippa Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism 2002 New York Cambridge University Press
43. Parry Geraint , Moyser George , Day Neil Political Participation and Democracy in Britain 1992 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
44. Partee Barbara H. , Meulen Alice ter , Wall Robert E. Mathematical Methods in inguistics 1990 Dordrecht Kluwer Academic Publishing
45. Pharr Susan , Putnam Rober Disaffected Democracies: What’s Troubling the Trilateral Democracies 2000 Princeton Princeton University Press
46. Przeworski Alan , Alvarez Michail E. , Cheibub Jose A. , Limongi Fernando Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950–1990 2000 New York Cambridge University Press
47. Ragin Charles C. The Comparative Method. Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies 1987 Berkley and Los Angeles University of California Press
48. Ragin Charles C. Fuzzy-Set Social Science 2000 Chicago University of Chicago Press
49. Ragin Charles C. Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy Sets and Beyond 2008 Chicago The University of Chicago Press
50. Ragin Charles C. , Zaret David "“Theory and method in comparative research: Two strategies”" Social Forces 1983 Vol 61 3 731 754
51. Russell Bertrand "“Vagueness”" Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1923 Vol 1 2 4 92
52. Sartori Giovanni "“Concept misformation in comparative politics”" American Political Science Review 1970 Vol 64 4 1033 1053
53. Sartori Giovanni Sartori Giovanni , Riggs Fred , Teune Henry "“The tower of babel”" The Tower of Babel 1975 University of Pittsburgh International Studies Association 7 38 Occasional Paper no. 6
54. Sartori Giovanni Sartori Giovanni "“Guidelines for concept analysis”" Social Science Concepts: A Systematic Analysis 1984 Beverly Hills Sage 15 85
55. Sartori Giovanni , Riggs Fred , Teune Henry The Tower of Babel 1975 University of Pittsburgh International Studies Association Occasional Paper no. 6
56. Schmitter Philippe C. "“The nature and future of comparative politics”" European Political Science Review 2009 Vol 1 1 33 61
57. Schneider Carsten Q. , Wagemann Claudius "“Reducing complexity in qualitative comparative analysis (QCA): Remote and proximate factors and the consolidation of democracy”" European Journal of Political Research 2006 Vol 45 751 786
58. Schneider Carsten Q. , Wagemann Claudius "“Standards of good practice in qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and fuzzy-sets”" Comparative Sociology 2010 Vol 9 3 397 418
59. Schneider Carsten Q. , Wagemann Claudius Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences 2012 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
60. Smithson Michael , Verkuilen Joy Fuzzy-Set Theory. Application in the Social Sciences 2006 Thousands Oaks Sage
61. Tarrow Sidney Brady Henry , Collier David "“Bridging the quantitative-qualitative divide”" Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards 2004 Lanham Rowman & Littlefield 171 180
62. Teorell Jan , Torcal Marian , Montero Josè R. Van Deth Jan W. , Montero Josè R. , Westholm Anders "“Political participation: mapping the terrain”" Citizenhip and Involvement in European Democracies. A Comparative Analysis 2007 London and New York Routledge 334 357
63. Verba Sidney , Nie Norman H. Participation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality 1972 New York Harper and Row
64. Verba Sidney , Nie Norman H. , Kim Jae-On Participation and Political Equality: A Seven Nation Comparison 1978 Chicago The University of Chicago Press
65. Verkuilen Joy "“Assigning membership in a fuzzy set analysis”" Sociological Methods & Research 2005 Vol 33 4 462 496
66. Weber Max The Methodology of the Social Sciences 1997 New York Free Press
67. Wittgenstein Ludwig Philosophical Investigations 1958 London Prentice-Hall
68. Zadeh Lofti A. "“Fuzzy sets”" Information and Control 1965 Vol 8 338 353
69. Zadeh Lofti A. "“Fuzzy logic”" IEEE Computer 1988 Vol 21 4 83 93

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Comparative Sociology — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation