The method of sorting is a flexible, easily-used (and enjoyable) technique well suited to exploring and mapping conceptual domains, to the study of subjective or folk-classifications, and to comparing existing classifications one with another. Originating in linguistics and psychology, sorting methods (also known as "own categories", and "pile-sorting") have diffused to a wide range of other social sciences.
This book provides the first systematic introduction to the method of sorting and draws material from new and widely-scattered sources. It covers the collection and analysis of data, using free-sorting as the main focus, but includes other variants. Methods are provided for describing and comparing sortings, drawing on recent developments in partition theory and combinational analysis and for measuring their similarity. Appropriate methods are presented for the representation of both individual sortings and of the objects themselves: multidimensional scaling, correspondence analysis, and clustering techniques. Applications and available software are covered.
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