The Coleman Diagram, Small N Inquiry and Ethnographic Causality


  • Peter Abell London School of Economics
  • Ofer Engel De Montfort University



Coleman diagram, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, causality, Bayesian narratives


Certain key ideas have served to stimulate thought about the nature of sociological inquiry by presenting frameworks which are adjustable to the varying demands of different sorts of data. They provide, as it were, heuristics which enable a systematic debate about the optimal simplifications that are enjoined by varying types of data, notably what are sometimes labelled as quantitative and qualitative. In so doing they facilitate a variety of analyses, generate hypotheses and eventually lead to discoveries that transcend inherited boundaries. Our claim is that the Coleman diagram, though largely interpreted within a quantitative tradition, is one such framework for formalizing qualitative methods and for understanding the interplay between different types of data in the social sciences.


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How to Cite

Abell, P., & Engel, O. (2018). The Coleman Diagram, Small N Inquiry and Ethnographic Causality. Sociologica, 12(2), 115–125.