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We have come a long way from Evans-Pritchard’s famous dictum that “there is only one method in social anthropology, the comparative method - and that is impossible.” Yet a good 40 years later, qualitative social inquiry still has an uneasy relationship with comparison. This volume sets out “thick comparison” as a means to revive “comparing” as a productive process in ethnographic work: a process that helps to revitalise the articulation work inherent in analytical ethnographies; to vary observer perspectives and point towards “blind spots;” to name and create “new things” and modes of empirical work and to give way to intensified dialogues between data analysis and theorizing.

Contributors are Katrin Amelang, Stefan Beck, Kati Hannken-Illjes, Alexander Kozin, Henriette Langstrup, Jörg Niewöhner, Thomas Scheffer, Robert Schmidt, Estrid Sørensen, and Britt Ross Winthereik.
In: Comparative Sociology

Abstract

This short contribution is a response to Robert Prus’ commentary paper “Ethnographic Comparisons, Complexities and Conceptualities.” We agree with many of the points raised and merely reiterate three aspects of our position in order to reinforce the unique features of our notion of thick comparison: First, ethnography has an important role to play in social inquiry. Second, ethnographers appropriate fields by getting involved in them. This involvement enables the production of comparability, which we do not understand to be an inherent quality of the world. Third, producing comparability is an ongoing process at the heart of thick comparison. Its failure and limitations are productive.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Comparative Sociology
In: Thick Comparison