Two cases of ethnography: Grounded theory and the extended case method

Iddo Tavory, Stefan Timmermans

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sociological ethnography largely draws upon two epistemologically competing perspectives - grounded theory and the extended case method - with a different conceptualization of sociological case-construction and theory. We argue that the sociological case in the extended case method is foremost a form of theoretical framing: relying on theoretical narratives to delineate the boundaries of an empirical field. Grounded theory follows the tenets of Chicago School ethnography where the sociological case is elicited from ethno-narratives of actors in the field: the institutionally and interactionally delimited ways members in the field 'case' their action. This difference in sociological casing, in turn, is reflected in the ways theory is used. Where the extended case method uses theoretical narratives as a denouement of the case, grounded theory employs theory to construct a grammar of social life.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)243-263
    Number of pages21
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2009


    • Epistemology
    • Ethnography
    • Extended case method
    • Grounded theory
    • Methodology
    • Narrative
    • Theory construction

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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