Sequence analysis, the statistical study of successions of states, events, or actions, is one of the promising venues of sociological methodology. Since its introduction in the social sciences in the mid-1980s, it has grown steadily and spread to many social science disciplines. It provides innovative approaches to life course studies, transitions into and out of work, contemporaneous and historical careers, time use, residential trajectories, and political careers. A common conception of sequence analysis has emerged around standard rules for optimal matching and joined procedures such as clustering techniques and visualization options.
Yet, a lot remains to be done! We currently lack a broader and systematic debate that takes stock of the advances and limits of sequence analysis, that encourages a careful standardization of the approach beyond diverging orientations, and that opens and explores new methodological paths and combinations.
The Lausanne Conference on Sequence Analysis (LaCOSA) is an attempt to make a further step in this direction. It will encourage networking through the confrontation of different disciplinary and local orientations and different practices of sequence analysis. It will also debate alternative empirical fields beyond the individual life course perspective, such as sequences of institutions or events, small-N populations, and different time scales. Thirdly, it will offer a platform to discuss methodological options and practices of sequence analysis, combinations of sequence analysis with other methods, and innovative forms of visualization and representation.