Quick Notes on Bartlett, L., and Vavrus, F.K., 2017. Rethinking case study research: a comparative approach. New York: Routledge.

Dave Harris

Chapter 1

There are to be multiple sites and scales, including ngos and sociall movements and effects on communies. We are to see policy formulation and appropriation as social practice, producing actual structures – this is the point of their case study (3), and this is the vertical dimension [ie policy and practie does not just flow from legislation]. The horizontal dimension shows unfolding in distinct locations, social productions. The transversal dimension traces the historical dimension. The example on p3 shows the influences on Tanzanian teachers of the push towards learner-centred approaches from the World Bank, national bodies, local bodies and communities and how this evolved from one school to another, as part of a global spread. This took place not without contradiction and resistance. Local factors in schools included who was funding them, and whether teachers migrated between schools and regions.  [ie clearly a massive study!]

The approach is about comparing and contrasting as the root of analysis, even in case studies. All 3 axes are important. There need be no exclusive focus on qualitative methods, but the memthod is not designedto trace causes and identify conventional variables and relation. It focuses on processes, iterations, emergence.

The key terms are:

Culture:  a process of symbolic production, the construction of meaning, making sense, now with a focus on performance or practice, including  ‘strategic essentialism' (10). There are multicultural possibilities,  and contestation. They focus on processes through power, and avoid essentialising [except strategic variants?],  examine cultural and linguistic repertoires and interactions.

Context:  especially the integrity of real-world situations, which can be multiple, constituted by social activities. The concept is like Bourdieu's notion of field, affected by power relations. It is not just territory or networks of social relations. There are no fixed local communities. Scale is an important factor and the relevance of scale should be identified in each case.

Comparison: often neglected. Comparisons are often variance-oriented, positivist and quantitative, but not process-oriented. They need to be interpretative, constructivist or critical, qualitative.  The  first approach has been dominant –eg where we attempt to control similar cases. This can be vague and abstract (interesting on work of Ragin pp 16). CCS looks at ‘linakges’,similarities, differences (17). One example videod critical incidents to be analysed by different educators. Analysis need not be comparison between nations – it could be between ‘policyscapes’ [There does seem to be a general theme of the the impact of colonialism, though]

Chapter 2

Problems arise when defining the term ‘case’. It depends on epistemology and methodology and the are differences beteen positivist and process-oriented approaches. The positivist approach is narrow:  you identify the variables and relations between them, the casual factors, gather the quantitative measures, assume a neo-positivist scientific process. Criticisms 29f - -context a problem, boundaries, strict generalizabilty. They claim to overcome all these, eg by allowing the case to emerge, be historical, iterative etc, allow participants to define boundaries [why should this be more accurate?]

Their own interpretivist approach  is social constructivist, creative, about meanings, particularistic, unique [ungeneralizable?], so a flexible design is required . They want to add power relationns though ( why exactly -- what if they are unperceived by the participants -- and the dimensions?]), and cases are deny always unique [they nearly admit researchers have the power to delimit boundaries 34]. What is the status of the generalisation that emeges from case studies? – the ideal-type? More mundane – the phenomenom?, ‘reality’? Often a vague sense of holism – in which lurks functionalism and traditional notions of culture they say (37), rather than processual and iterative etc [So what emerges for them -- endless process and iteration? endless demonstration of power?]

So – their own approach is process-oriented, emergent. It starts with ideas rather than prespecified methods or theories, and allows for the unexpected. It makes explicit its decision rules. It does not impose concepts (39) [not evenemergence or power or colonisation?]. It researches how a sense of place has been produced. The perspectives of actors are important, recording partly in their terms. It must [!] also be based on critical theory – ‘marxist, feminist and crtical among others’ ( 39). [So the classic problems remain of translating from one discourse to the other -- via symbolic violence?]. The aim is to deconstruct policy.

Supported by their ‘theory’: globalisationn has a local and practical dimension. It can produce unintended conseqs. It has to be reproduced. Nation state no longer privileged.

The extended case method is rooted in anthropology focused on’individual strategies and tactics in everyday life’ (41), especially resistance [Buroway rather than, say, deCerteau]. They opt for multi-site and multi-scale analysis. Their analysis is to be mobile ethnographic, translocal [I think of Stoller]. Field no longer fixed etc.
ANT in there somewhere.

[Must look at the rest of it sometime]