Idealtyper og fuzzy mængdelære i komparative studier - nordisk familiepolitik i 1990´erne som eksempel

  • Jon Kvist


Ideal types and fuzzy sets -Exemplified by Nordic family policy in the 1990s Fuzzy-set theory is a new method for the social sciences. It allows for a precise operationalisation of theoretical concepts, the configuration of concepts into analytical constructs such as idealtypes, and the categorisation of cases. In a Weberian sense ideal types are analytical constructs used as yardsticks to measure the similarity and difference between concrete phenomena. Ideal type analysis involves differentiation of categories and degrees of membership of such categories. In social science jargon, this means analysis involving the evaluation of qualitative and quantitative differences or, in brief, of diversity. Fuzzy set theory is useful for ideal type analysis as it combines the study of qualitative and quantitative differentiation in a single instrument. It allows the measurement and computation of theoretical concepts and analytical constructs in a manner that is true to their original formulation and meaning. This paper sets out elements and principles of fuzzy-set theory that are useful for ideal type analysis and presents an illustrative example of how it can be used in comparative studies. The example concerns changing Nordic family policies in the 1990s in relation to their conformity to the ideal typical Social Democratic family policy model characterised by generous family allowances coupled with universal child care of a high quality. All Nordic countries expanded the universality of childcare, but its quality remained only fairly good, when measured by number of children, staff, which was 4.7 in 1993 in Denmark. Generosity was increased in Denmark, but reduced in Sweden and Finland. As a result of numerous changes, the most traditional country, Norway, got more in line with the other Nordic countries and Sweden lost its role as the examplar country of Social Democratic family policy. However, none of the countries experienced a qualitative shift in family policy towards a Conservative or Liberal model of family policy. The analysis demonstrates how fuzzy-set theory allows for fine-grained assesments, and is particularly well-suited to the analysis of diversity for a medium number of cases.