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

In: Comparative Sociology
Mario Quaranta Department of Political Science LUISS “Guido Carli” – Rome

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The 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.

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