Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Comparative Policy Analysis
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Comparative Policy Analysis

Edited by B. Guy Peters and Guillaume Fontaine

Public policy research has become increasingly comparative over the past several decades, but the methodological issues involved in this research have not been discussed adequately. This Handbook provides a discussion of the fundamental methodological issues in comparative policy research, as well as descriptions and analyses of major techniques used for that research. The techniques discussed are both quantitative and qualitative, and all are embedded in the broader discussion of comparative research design.
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Chapter 18: Using ethnography in comparative policy analysis: premises, promises and perils

Raul Pacheco-Vega


Undertaking comparative public policy analysis requires us to think broadly about types of policies we are required to analyse, tools we should use to investigate them and strategies to implement research projects and policy analytical programmes. While there are numerous other approaches to studying and engaging in policy analysis from a comparative perspective, ranging from qualitative to quantitative to spatial, ethnographic research strategies can yield insights we would not be able to gain through other methods. Ethnography enables a researcher to embed him/herself in a specific community in a way that can provide in-depth coverage and analysis of policy issues that are often rendered invisible if we use other methods, even qualitative ones. Frequently, the only way to properly uncover thorny issues with comparative public policy implications is undertaking in-depth ethnographic fieldwork. Thus, it is important to include ethnography in the repertoire of research strategies available to comparative policy analysts. This chapter provides a brief but broad overview of ethnography as a field-based research method for comparative policy analysis. The author argues that comparative ethnographies can provide insights that can be used for policy analytical purposes, and presents a framework for the application of ethnographic research strategies to different comparative policy analysis issues.

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